Speaking of barbecue, the Donner Party is in the news again. The News & Observer recently ran a story entitled “Donners May Not Have Been Cannibals After All.” Why are we mentioning this here? It turns out that the most famous would-be man-eaters in American history were native Tar Heels.
George and Jacob Donner were born in Rowan County in the 1780s. Like many of their neighbors, they had a difficult time in North Carolina and headed for more promising lands out west. The Donners moved to Kentucky in 1818, then to Illinois ten years later. The family settled near Springfield for a few decades, but grew restless again and in 1846 they began their ill-fated trip to California.