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James and Margaret Reed
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    Members of the Donner Party
    Originally from Springfield, Illinois
    James Frazier Reed (Nov. 14, 1800–Jul. 24, 1874), born in Born in County Armagh, northern Ireland; veteran of the Black-Hawk War, successful farmer, married in 1835
    Margaret Keyes Backenstoe Reed (1814-Nov. 25, 1861), widow with two daughters; later had four children with James
    Entire family, except for James, was snowbound for four months in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (1846-47)
    Were among the 48 survivors of the 87 members of the Party (and among only two family units to survive as a whole)
    Portrayed by Chris Cooper and Meredith Baxter in Disney's 'One More Mountain' (1994)
    Their motives for pursuing California have never been clear (some say business troubles, others claim the greed brought on by 'California Fever').
    Their elite snobbery apparently rubbed many members of the Party the wrong way.
    James held a grudge that George Donner had been elected leader of the wagon train over him.
    They were warned that the 'Hastings Cutoff' was not a reliable shortcut, but James ignored them and opted take it anyway, dooming the Party in the process.
    Margaret was known for having conveniently timed headaches (which stopped coming after her near-death experience).
    To accommodate her, James built a luxurious two-story wagon complete with an iron stove, spring-cushioned seats and bunks for sleeping (they called it 'The Palace Car').
    The car required eight oxen to pull it, which proved a hindrance as their trek wore on (they eventually had to abandon the 'Palace' wagon).
    Seven months into the journey, provisions had become so scarce, and tempers so short, that a heated argument resulted in James stabbing a member of the wagon train to death.
    The fallout from the killing resulted in James Reed being banished from the Donner Party (at least one member disliked him so intensely calls emerged for him to be hanged).
    Ironically, his banishment turned out to be beneficial, as a majority of the Party members either starved to death or suffered to the point of becoming emaciated beyond recognition (he was safely in California trying half-heartedly to arrange a rescue party).
    Their association with the Donner Party has led many to incorrectly assert that they resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. For certain James didn't, and no mention is made in recorded texts of Margaret or her children engaging in such acts (although its not impossible that they did and never publicly admitted to it).
    James emigrated to America from Ireland with his mother, shortly after the death of his father.
    Margaret had argued strongly against the move to California, but her husband overruled her.
    Her main reason, aside from not wanting to leave the comforts of home, was that she didn't want to leave her ailing mother (who could barely walk on her own).
    They had to put up with Lewis Keseberg (who was among the members calling for James to be hanged).
    James was very likely acting in self-defense during the confrontation that led to the stabbing (some claim he was trying to diffuse an argument between two men).
    When she was stranded for the winter with the remaining emigrants in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Margaret reportedly sustained her children on leather broth, snow, and bark, until being rescued by the First Relief.
    James was eventually able to round up volunteers and supplies in the Sonoma and Napa valleys, rescuing Margaret and his children (and later the rest of the Party).
    While he was stuck in California, James not only fought in the Mexican War, but secured a plot of land for him to take his family back to once they had been rescued.
    James virtually lost everything he had after the disaster, but managed to rebuild his wealth from scratch in California.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


    For 2018, as of last week, Out of 4 Votes: 50.0% Annoying
    In 2017, Out of 2 Votes: 100% Annoying
    In 2016, Out of 6 Votes: 50.0% Annoying
 
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