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The Wolfingers
[Donner Party Roster] [Rescuers and Others]

Mr. and Mrs. Wolfinger are two of the more obscure members of the Donner Party. They were among several German-speaking emigrants in the group and apparently did not interact much with the native-born Americans who left the documentary evidence.

----- Wolfinger

A German immigrant
Age: [?]

     Nothing is known for certain about Mr. Wolfinger except that he was from Germany. In October 1846, as the Donner Party was traveling along the Truckee, he stopped to cache his wagon. Augustus Spitzer and Joseph Reinhardt stayed behind to help, but returned without him. They reported that Indians had come down out of the hills and killed their companion, but Reinhardt later confessed to having murdered him.
     The suggestion that Wolfinger was one Jacob Wolfinger who emigrated to the United States in 1830 has been disproved. For more on this issue, see "Jacob" Wolfinger on the "Some Donner Party Myths in Brief" page.

Doris (Dorothea) ----

Wife of ---- Wolfinger
Age: [20?]

b. abt 1826 in Germany
m1. --- Wolfinger
m2. 20 Jun 1847 at Sutter’s Fort to George Zinns
     Ch: Rosa, Albert
d. 1861

     Mrs. Wolfinger’s first name is given as both Doris and Dorothea. She was a young woman at the time of the Donner Party, but the data about her age is conflicting; she may have been as young as 19 or as old as 26. She was remembered as a "tall, queenly-looking lady" who wore fine clothing and jewelry at the outset of the trip. After her husband’s disappearance she continued on with the Donner families and stayed with them at Alder Creek. She was taken out by the First Relief.
     A few months after her rescue she married George Zinns, a native of Lorraine, who had come to California with Heinrich Lienhard -- see his From St. Louis to Sutter’s Fort (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961). Mrs. Zinns helped her husband build the first brick house in Sacramento.

In 185[9?] a man named Zinz, now living in the northern part of the State, built a brewery at the corner of J and Twenty-ninth streets. Before many months it was burnt down, and on its site was erected Sutter Hall, which still stands there. A little investigation readily reveals to the visitor the cement floor of the old brewery. After the brewery was burnt down Mrs. Zinz, with an energy worth of imitation by a great many men, went at really hard work, and the venerable Binninger house on Front street, between M and N, exhibits bricks which are the results of her handiwork at that early day. Excellent bricks they are, too, and only excelled by the pioneer lady herself.
Sacramento Daily Union, June 15, 1872

     There are no known descendants of Doris/Dorothea Wolfinger Zinns of the Donner Party. Her son Albert died unmarried, as far as is known. Her daughter Rosa married Conrad Schuler in 1875 and in turn had a daughter, Rosa Schuler, who died unmarried in Mendocino County, California, in 1945.


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Revised: 31 Jan 2006

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