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.