A Remarkable Person

Donner Pass

Tamsen Donner—accomplished and faithful to the end.

Tamsen Donner has been shoved to the rear of history—mainly because her husband, George, was the leader of the ill-fated Donner Party, which was trapped in the Sierra Nevadas in 1846-’47. Many of the survivors resorted to cannibalism.

Tamsen was an extraordinary woman. She was proficient in mathematics, geometry, and philosophy, fluent in French, an avid botanist, a painter, and a poet. When the party became stuck, she tended to her husband, who had a badly infected hand. She had four opportunities to be rescued but decided to stay with her dying husband—even unto her death.

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