Searching for Tamsen Donner

Searching for Tamsen Donner

Book - 2009
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"This book tells of Burton?s search to solve the mystery of Tamsen Donner for herself. A graceful mingling of history and memoir, Searching for Tamsen Donner follows Burton and her husband, with their five daughters, on her journey along Tamsen?s path. From Tamsen?s birthplace in Massachusetts to North Carolina, where she lost her first family in the space of three months; to Illinois, where she married George Donner; and finally to the fateful Oregon Trail, Burton recovers one woman?s compelling history through a modern-day family?s adventure into realms of ultimately timeless experiences" --Cover, p. 2.
Publisher: Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, c2009.
ISBN: 9780803222854
Branch Call Number: BIO DONNER T. Burton
Characteristics: xii, 314 p. :,ill., maps ;,24 cm.


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Feb 25, 2014

Gabrielle Burton has a bit of an obsession with Tamsen Donner, who was the wife of George Donner and a prominent member of the eponymous and tragic Donner Party of 1846. In 1977, as part of her research for a novel she plans to write, Gabrielle packs her husband and five daughters into their station wagon and sets off from Illinois to retrace the steps of Tamsen Donner on her fateful journey West, passing the same landmarks, sleeping where Tamsen slept, and attempting to view the landscape, over 100 years later, through the eyes of those early pioneers.

I especially enjoyed the Burton family's own travelogue chapters, reminiscient of some other travel adventure memoirs I've read, but I think I wished that it the rest had been fleshed out more, and for that reason I struggled with whether to rate it three or four stars. Regardless, it sounds like Gabrielle Burton has an amazing family dynamic and five strong, confident, incredible, kick-ass daughters.


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