Statue at Donner Memorial The Donner Party (sometimes called the Donner-Reed Party) was a group of American pioneers led by George Donner and James F. Reed who set out for California in a wagon train in May 1846. Delayed by a series of mishaps and mistakes, they spent the winter of 1846–47 snowbound in the Sierra Nevada. Some of the pioneers resorted to cannibalism to survive.
James F. and Margret Reed of the Donner Party. Oct.1846, Reed had a quarrel with teamsters and stabbed one of them to death. He was then banished from the wagon train. Leaving his family, he traveled alone for 22 days to Sutter's Fort. February 1847 a rescue party was sent. Reed was returning with some emigrants from the camp, when another blizzard trapped them for 2 days.