Return to
Home Page

Statistics

Many readers are fascinated by numbers and ask questions like, How many people were in the Donner Party? How many died? How many survived? Here are some answers.

Q. How many people were in the Donner Party?
A. 89 -- 87 emigrants plus Luis and Salvador, California Indians who were trapped with them in the Sierra Nevada. (There were never 89 people together at any one time, however.)
     Sarah Keyes and Hiram Miller, although listed in the Roster, are not considered members of the Donner Party. Mrs. Keyes had died and Miller had left the group before the Donner Party was formed.

Q. How many people were trapped in the mountains?
A. Of the 89, only 81 were trapped. There were several additions and subtractions en route:

Present when the Donner Party was formed on July 19, 1846 Donner, Reed, Breen, Eddy, Murphy, Foster, Pike, Keseberg, and Wolfinger families, plus most of the "teamsters and others" 71
Joined the Donner Party at Fort Bridger The McCutchens and Baptiste +4
Joined the Donner Party in the Wasatch Mountains The Graves family and John Snyder +12
Died before reaching the Sierra Halloran, Snyder, Hardcoop, Wolfinger, Pike -5
Left the wagon train to go ahead to California McCutchen, Stanton, Reed, Herron -4
Came from California with food Stanton, Luis, Salvador +3
Total number of people trapped in the mountains   81

Q. Where did they live?
A. There were two camps, one close to Donner Lake, the other about seven miles away in the Alder Creek Valley. We can locate most of the emigrants with certainty but some of the single men are harder to place; at the beginning of the winter there was some moving about between the camps. The following figures are more-or-less correct for the situation in early December:

At the Lake Camp The Breen, Eddy, Graves, Keseberg, Murphy, and Reed families; Amanda and Harriet McCutchen; Eliza and Baylis Williams; Charles Stanton, Luis, and Salvador; Antonio, Charles Burger, John Denton, Patrick Dolan, Milt Elliott, Augustus Spitzer 59
At Alder Creek The George and Jacob Donner families; Mrs. Wolfinger; Noah James, Joseph Reinhardt, James Smith, Samuel Shoemaker, Jean-Baptiste Trudeau 22
Total   81

Q.  Where did they die?
A.  There were more deaths at the Lake Camp, but a higher percentage of the people at Alder Creek died. As many people died trying to reach safety as died at the Lake Camp. Names are listed in chronological order of death:

Before reaching the Sierra Luke Halloran, John Snyder, Mr. Hardcoop, Mr. Wolfinger, William Pike 5
At the Lake Camp Baylis Williams, Louis Keseberg Jr., Charles Burger, Landrum Murphy, Harriet McCutchen, Margaret Eddy, Augustus Spitzer, Eleanor Eddy, Milt Elliott, Catherine Pike, George Foster, James Eddy, Levinah Murphy, Tamzene Donner 14
At Alder Creek Jacob Donner, James Smith, Samuel Shoemaker, Joseph Reinhardt, Lewis Donner, Elizabeth Donner, Samuel Donner, George Donner 8
Trying to escape from the mountains Charles Stanton, F. W. Graves, Patrick Dolan, Antonio, Lemuel Murphy, Jay Fosdick, Luis, Salvador, Ada Keseberg, John Denton, William Hook, Isaac Donner, Elizabeth Graves, F. W. Graves, Jr. 14
Total   41

Tables

A. Gender

Table 1. Donner Party Members by Gender

Male

Female

Total

55

34

89

Table 2. Mortality by Gender

 

Male

Female

Total

Died

32

9

41

Survived

23

25

48

Total

55

34

89


B. Age

Note:
Physically and socially, girls mature earlier than boys. This fact is reflected in the age categories below, in which males are considered adults at age 21, females at age 18. Readers dissatisfied by this decision are free to make up their own age categories and tables using the information on the Roster page.
Individuals whose ages are unknown are included in the "Adult" category by default.
 

3. Donner Party Members by Age Group

Adults

Children

Total

44

45

89

 4. Mortality by Age Group

 

Adults

Children

Total

Died

27

14

41

Survived

17

31

48

Total

44

45

89

 

C. Gender and Age Group Combined

Table 5. Survived

 

Adults

Children

Total

Male

7

16

23

Female

10

15

25

Total

17

31

48

Table 6. Died 

 

Adults Children Total

Male

22

10

32

Female

5

4

9

Total

27

14

41


Table 7. Mortality by Age Group and Gender
(Combines information from preceding tables)

 

Adults

Children

Total

 

Men

Women

Total

Boys

Girls

Total

Male

Female

Total

Died

22

5

27

10

4

14 32 9

41

Survived

7

10

17

16

15

31 23 25

48

Total

29

15

44

26

19

45 55 34

89

 
Interesting facts:

Two thirds of the women survived; two thirds of the men died.
Four girls aged three and under died; two survived. No girls between the ages of 4 and 16 died.
Four boys aged three and under died; none survived. Six boys between the ages of 4 and 16 died.
All the adult males who survived the entrapment (Breen, Eddy, Foster, Keseberg) were fathers.
All the bachelors (single males over age 21) who were trapped in the Sierra died. (Bachelor Walter Herron did survive, but he wasn't trapped in the mountains; Jean-Baptiste Trudeau and Noah James survived the entrapment, but were only about 16 years old and are not considered bachelors).
 

| Home Page | Chronology | Roster | Rescuers | Statistics | Documents | Myths | Recent Books
|
"Unfortunate Emigrants"Bulletin | Site Updates | Guestbook | Links | FAQ | Utah Crossroads |
Student Page | Sources | Donner Party News

E-mail to Kristin Johnson

Revised: 31 Jan 2006

Original content copyright 1997-2006 by Kristin Johnson. All rights reserved.