Donner Party

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.

4 thoughts on “Donner Party”

  1. Well, of course the Donners weren’t cannibals. Being from the western part of North Carolina, they would have needed some sort of tomato sauce on their BBQ no matter its origins and where would a person come across a tomato in a high mountain pass in the middle of winter?

  2. Well, of course the Donners weren’t cannibals. Being from the western part of North Carolina, they would have needed some sort of tomato sauce on their BBQ no matter its origins and where would a person come across a tomato in a high mountain pass in the middle of winter?

  3. Because George and Jacob Donner were Tar Heels, the North Carolina Collection buys books on the ill-fated Donner party experience. As the person does book selection for the Collection, I’ve been amazed at the number of children’s books on the Donner Party. What lessons are being taught by this bit of history? (But don’t I remember that there is the threat of cannibalism in some classic children’s stories like Hansel and Gretel?)
    Eileen McGrath

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