Wynkoops and the Donner Party.
Wynkoops and the Donner Party.

    In the winter of 1846 a group of settlers, now known as the Donner Party, became stranded in the high Sierra Nevadas, unable to move forward or to return from whence they came. Eventually food ran low and they began to die. The situation became so bad that some of the survivors resorted to cannibalism. A dark chapter indeed in our country's history.

    At the end of October, 1998 Gerard E. Wynkoop, [email protected], of Beaverton, Oregon mentioned this to me in an E-mail:

"I did hear a story from some Koops in Portland, Or., that a Wynkoop girl had married a survivor of the infamous Donner party--possible family lore?"

    Until recently that was all the information I had on the subject, but thanks to Kristin Johnson, [email protected], the mystery has been solved.

    Below is a list of possible candidates, men and boys who might have married one of the Wynkoops at a later date. (As it turns out one of the Wynkoops did marry a descendant of one of the male survivors, but the descendant was a female and the Wynkoop was a male, the complete opposite of the family story.) A list of the entire party can be found at:

Donner Party Roster


Key to codes:

  • (P) = preceded party to California
  • (S) = snowshoe party
  • (1) - (4) = rescued by relief party - by number

    Hiram Miller (P) 29 Teamster for Reeds - Left group early
    Walter Herron (P) 25 Teamster for Reeds - Left group to join James Reed
    James F Reed (P) 46 Husband of Margaret Reed - prominent
    William McCutcheon (P) 30 Husband of Amanda; went to Sutters Fort with Stanton
    William Foster (S) 28 Husband of Sarah Murphy Foster
    William Eddy (S) 29 Only survivor of the Eddy family
    James Reed Jr. (1) 5 Son of Reeds
    George Donner (1) 8 Son of Jacob Donner
    William Murphy (1) 11 Son of Lavina Murphy
    William Graves (9) 18 Son of Graves
    Edward Breen (1) 13 Son of Breens
    Simon Breen (1) 8 Son of Breens
    Noah James (1) 20 Teamster for the Donners
    Solomon Hook (2) 13 Son of Elizabeth Donner by a former marriage
    Thomas Reed (2) 4 Son of Reeds
    Patrick Breen (2 & 3) 51 Husband of Margaret Breen; prominent
    John Breen (2 8 3) 14 Son of Breens
    Patrick Breen. Jr (2 & 3) 9 Son of Breens
    James Breen (2 & 3) 5 Son of Breens
    Peter Breen (2 & 3) 3 Son of Breens
    Jonathon Graves (2 & 3) 6 Son of Graves
    Simon Murphy (3) 9 Son of Lavina Murphy
    John Baptiste Trubode (3) 18 Teamster for the Donners
    Lewis Keseberg (4) 32 Husband of Philipine: prominent, German

    * * *

        On June 30, 1999 I received the following information from Kristin Johnson, who runs the Donner Party Web Page at:

    New Light on the Donner Party.

        Kristin has been studying their history for many years and is considered one of the authorities on the Donner Party. She sent me the following information in response to some questions that I sent her a while back.

        "I was poking around in one of my Donner files looking for something else and discovered the link you were probably looking for:

    1. George and Jacob Donner had a brother named John (b. 09 Apr 1790, d. 21 Aug 1879) John married Sarah Lame (b. 19 Feb 1800, d. 24 Feb 1852).

    2. Their youngest daughter was Sarah (b. 09 Jul 1833, d. 26 Mar 1913) Sarah Donner married M. M. Lucas (1826-1895)

    3. Their eldest daughter Ella Lucas married-- Lyman WYNKOOP! They had 6 children:

    Asbury, Chester, Lloyd, Saylor, Warren, and Finley.

        Whew-- I thought that name was familiar.

        Kristin Johnson"


        Kristin, I can't thank you enough for your help in solving this family mystery. I really appreciate it. There's a little kernal of truth in every family story, isn't there.

        Gerard, thanks once again for another terrific mystery!

        Best wishes,


    Created April 27, 1999; Revised July 14, 2005
    Comments to [email protected]

    Copyright © 1999, 2001-2005 by Christopher H. Wynkoop, All Rights Reserved

    This site may be freely linked to but not duplicated in any fashion without my written consent.

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