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Orson Pratt Brown's Relatives through Granddaughter's Marriage

section header - History

Levinah W. Jackson Murphy 1916-1992

Jeremiah Byrd Burns Murphy

Born: March 3, 1805 at Union, Union, South Carolina
Died: October 5, 1839 at area of Dresden, Weakly [Weekly] County, Tennessee

Levinah W. Jackson Murphy

Born: December 15, 1809 at Spartenburg, Union, South Carolina
Died: (c.19) March 1847 at Donner's Pass, Placer County, California

Compiled by Lucy Brown Archer

Mrs. Murphy was born Levinah W. JACKSON, daughter of a prosperous Union County. South Carolina family on 15 Dec 1809. Said to have acted as her father's secretary, married in Union County, S.C in 1824 to Jeremiah Burns MURPHY b. 3 March 1805 in SC, son of Mark Simon Bird Murphy and Holly Ann Duke [or Dukes].

Kristin Johnson says, "Documents dating from her lifetime give her name as "Levinah" or "Levinah" (pronounced luh-VINE-uh). Her son William spelled the name "Levinah"; Wilford Woodruffís 1836 daybook gives the name as "Levinah W. MURPHY," as does a transcription of a family Bible".

In the early 1830's Jeremiah and Levinah moved with 5 of their children to the Dresden area of Weakley County, Tennessee along with their JACKSON, ALEXANDER, MURPHY and LEE kinfolk. Their last 2 children, William Green Murphy. and Simon Peter Murphy, were born in Weakley County, Tennessee.

Although raised as Baptists in South Carolina, Jeremiah and Levinah joined the Mormon faith about 1836 while living in Weakley County. Jeremiah's brother, Emmanuel Masters Murphy also joined the Mormon Church about the same time and went on to become a prominent leader of the Morman Church as they moved to Utah. It was their cousin, Randloph Alexander, who first allowed a Mormon missionary to preach on his land next to the Thompson Creek Baptist Church after he was not allowed to preach in the church. Randolph Alexander was a believer from that day on and must have influenced Jeremiah and Emmanuel. [Levinah's sister, Delilah M. Jackson, married Simpson ALEXANDER.]

Three years later, on Oct 5, 1839, Jeremiah MURPHY died in Weakley County, Tennessee. He was only 34 years old. Brother-in-law, Green T. LEE [married to Levinah's sister Harriet Charlotte Jackson], was appointed guardian of Jeremiah's minor children in 1839 - in those days, even if the Mother was alive, a guardian was appointed for minor children - [1845-1846 page 100-104 Guardian Book A ] He also stood surety for a bond when Levinah purchased two town lots in Dresden. Jeremiah left his widow, Levinah, with 7 children to raise. She never remarried.


The Story Below mostly follows the story by Eugene Edward Campbell:

The Mormons and the Donner Party

The Donner Party, led by George Donner [60 years old] who was elected captain of the newly formed Donner Party at the Little Sandy River in western Wyoming on or about July 20, 1846, pioneered the route that the Mormon pioneers followed to enter the valley of the Great Salt Lake.

One of the larger families in the Donner party was Mormon, the thirteen members of Mrs. Levinah W. Jackson Murphy family including  her daughter, Mary Miriam Maria Murphy Johnson Covillaud.  By coincidence members of the Church were instrumental in obtaining relief for the snowbound, stranded group.  Members of the Mormon Battalion returning from their service in San Diego and Los Angeles participated in the first successful Donner rescue attempt, and were the first to reach the scene of the disaster.

Daniel Tyler, in his Concise History of the March of the Mormon Battalion gives an account of his meeting with Mary Murphy Johnson, who was one of the survivors of the Donner Party.  Tyler was a member of the returnng battalion members who had marched from Los Angeles to Sutter’s Fort, where they had seen some of the survivors of the tragic affair, and who were continuing on their way to Salt Lake Valley.  About forty miles north of Sutter’s Fort, they arrived at Johnson’s ranch where the following incident took place as recorded by Tyler:

“The company traveled 18 miles today and arrived at Captain Johnson’s Mill on Bear Creek….This man Johnson…was said to have been one of Captain Fremont’s battalion and his young wife was one of the ill-fated party which had been snowed in at the foot of the Sierras.  Mrs. Murry [Murphy], who was a Latter-day Saint, was among the number that perished in that horrible scene of death.  The circumstances under which she became a member of that company were explained to us by her daughter, Mrs. Johnson.  The lady, being a widow with several children dependant on her for support, while residing at Nauvoo, heard of a chance to get employment at Warsaw. An anti-Mormon settlement 30 miles down the river. Thinking to better her condition, she accordingly moved to Warsaw and spent the winter of 1845-1846  there. In the spring of the latter year, a party emigrating to Oregon or California offered to furnish passage to her and her children on the condition that she would cook and do the washing for the party.  Understanding California to be the final destination of the Saints and thinking this a good opportunity to emigrate without being a burden to the Church, she accepted the proposition, but alas, the example of Sister Murry [Levinah W. Murphy], although her motives were good, is an illustration of the truism that “it is better to suffer affliction with the people of God and trust in Him for deliverance than to mingle with the sinful for a season and be
lured by human prospects of a better result…”

According to Brigham Henry (B.H.) Roberts, Wilford Woodruff said that he had baptized Mrs.Murphy while on his mission in Tennessee, but that “she apostatized and joined the mob.” Roberts indicates that by “joined the mob” President Woodruff meant “no more, perhaps than that she lived among those who were mobbing the saints in Illinois.”  Apparently the Murphy’s thought of themselves as Mormons, no matter what their situation was at various times.

The Murphy family consisted of the mother, Mrs. Lavina [or Levinah] Murphy [age 36, born on 15 December 1809 at Union County, South Carolina, widow of Jeremiah Byrd Burns Murphy since October 1839]; four sons, Lemuel Bird Murphy, John Landrum Murphy, William Green Murphy, and Simon Peter Murphy; three daughters, Mary Miriam Maria Murphy, Harriet Francis Murphy, and Sarah Ann Charlotte Murphy.

Harriet was married to William Montgomery Pike [on December 29, 1842], and had two infant daughters, Naomi Pike [born 13 November 1843] and Catherine Pike [born possibly in 1845, was nine months old during the trip] .

Sarah Ann Charlotte Murphy was married to William McFadden Foster [on December 29, 1842 at Clark County, Missouri], and they had an infant son, Jeremiah George Foster [born 25 August 1844 at St. Louis, Missouri]. Apparently both couples married on the same day. Both the sons-in-law accompanied the party.

The family endured the hardships of the entry into Salt Lake Valley, and the desert crossing with the rest of the company without unusual incident, but early in October in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, near the present site of Reno, Nevada, tragedy struck.  Charles Tyler Stanton, a member of the party who had gone on ahead to secure provisions, had just returned [to Truckee Meadow near Reno, Nevada] with a pack train furnished by Captain John Sutter, and assured the company that more supplies might be obtained if others went on ahead.  According to Charles Fayette McGlashan’s account, the two Murphy brothers-in-law, William Pike and William Foster, volunteered to go, and began making preparations. Pike was cleaning a pepper box pistol, while they were examining it someone called for firewood to replenish the fire. Pike handed the pepper box to Foster, but in the exchange, the pistol exploded, and Pike was fatally wounded. He died within twenty minutes. He left a widow and two very young children. This accident seemed to be a dark omen for the entire company.

After this tragic event the company pushed on, but found themselves caught in a heavy snowstorm just as they were about to reach the summit [8,018 feet], above Donner’s lake. Sadly they turned back and built the makeshift cabin that was to house the Murphy and Eddy families for so many weeks.  The date was November 3, 1846.

There was a cabin near the foot of the lake (then known as Truckee Lake from the name of an Indian guide of the party who built the cabin) where Moses Schallenberger spent the winter of 1844-5. This the Breens moved into; and the Kesebergs built a shed against it. The Murphys built a cabin against a boulder with a perpendicular side, nearer the lake. The Graves and Reed families built a double cabin a half mile or so down by Donner Creek. The Donners were about six or seven miles farther down in Alder Creek Valley; but they depended on tents and sheds made of brush and boughs. Attempts to catch fish in the waters were failures; and only two or three times was any game found. There were eighty-one persons.

Site of the Murphy cabin at Donner Pass

On November 12, an attempt was made to climb out of the valley, but the snow was deep and soft, and the party returned to camp.  Another attempt was made on November 21st; the group included Mrs. Murphy and three of her half-grown children, but this too was unsuccessful. An eight-day snowstorm made further attempts impossible.

In desperation the members of the camp began to manufacture snow shoes, and by the middle of December, sixteen pairs were ready for an attempt.  On December 16, 1846, seventeen members of the party, the “Forlorn Hope” group began their climb.  The Murphys were well represented as Mr. and Mrs. William Foster, Mrs. Harriet Murphy Pike, Lemuel Murphy, and William Murphy were with the group.  The latter two did not have snowshoes, and soon William, a boy of ten [born 15 January 1836 in Tennessee], was forced to turn back.  The rest of the group continued on, and the survivors, after thirty-three days of incredible hardship, reached Johnson’s Ranch.  Lemuel Murphy [barely 13 years old, born 17 October 1833 in South Carolina] had died, and Foster had lost his mind temporarily.  Eating human flesh had kept them alive, and the Murphy girls witnessed the dismemberment of their brother’s body.  During this time, John L. [or J.] Murphy [just 17 years old, born 15 November 1829] had died at the Donner’s Pass camp.

The Indians had fallen in the snow, apparently dying, at this point William Foster in turning back after the group had passed, found the Indians and shot them and took off their flesh to use. It would seem that these terrible experiences were bringing out the best in some men and the worst in others.

The first rescue party did not reach Donner’s Lake until February 18, 1847, and they were able to save only those who were strong enough to walk. Two of the seven men who risked their lives to rescue the emigrants were Mormons, John Rhoads and Daniel Rhoads.  The day after they arrived, little Catherine Pike passed away.  Mary Murphy [15 years old, born 15 Nov 1831] and William Green Murphy [10 years old, born 15 January 1836] were chosen to go out with the first rescue party, and finally, John Rhoads agreed to carry the infant Naomi
Pike, out with him. This left of the Murphy family only Mrs. [Levinah W. Jackson] Murphy, who was now half blind and childish, her son Simon Peter Murphy [8 years old, born 14 March 1838], and baby George Foster, unrescued.

When William Foster made a courageous rescue attempt in the middle of March, he found his baby dead, and his mother-in-law unable to move [traumatized, she was sure Keseberg had killed baby George, who was then cannibalized by the cabin inhabitants] The rescued children said afterwards that Mrs. Murphy accused Keseberg, who lived in the same cabin and had taken the child into his bed, of his death]. 

William Foster was able to rescue Simon, however.  Before another party could make their way in, Mrs. Levinah Murphy was dead [March 1847 at the Donner Camp, Nevada County, California] Mrs. Murphy was sick, exhausted and could not walk. Mrs. Murphy had starved to death after the provisions her son-in-law left her were gone. Later William Foster was vehement in accusing Johan Ludwig Keseberg of murdering his mother-in-law and his infant son George Foster, when he found, on returning with the last rescue party, that Keseberg was the only survivor of four persons in the Murphy cabin, and human bones and carcasses were strewn about.

Samuel Brannan, leader of the Mormons in San Francisco, and editor of the local newspaper, played an important part in the raising funds for the rescue attempts. Then in April 1847 he decided to ride through the Sierras and meet Brigham Young’s company and lead them to California.  He saw the emaciated survivors at Sutter’s Fort, and a few miles up the trail, came upon the last survivor, Johan Ludwig Christian Keseberg, crawling down the trail.  He shared his lunch with Keseburg and then continued his journey.

In June 1847, twelve members of the Mormon Battalion, chosen as a bodyguard by General Stephen Watts Kearny, who was taking John Charles Fremont back to Fort Leavenworth under arrest, came upon the scene of the Donner tragedy.  General Kearny detailed the men to bury the remains of the Donner party and clean up the camp.

Mary Murphy, who turned sixteen years old on November 15, 1846 , was married to William Johnson of Johnson’s Ranch in June 1847, a few months after her rescue.  In November of the same year she was advertised as having left “the drunken sot” who would not give up his Indian wives. In 1848 Mary married Charles Julian Covillaud of Nye’s Ranch.  In 1850, when the city of Marysville, was laid out, it was named in honor of Mary Miriam Maria Murphy Covillaud.

Of the thirteen members of the Murphy family, only seven survived.  They were Harriet and Sarah; the baby Naomi Pike, who was rescued by John Rhoads; Mary and William who hiked out with the first rescue party; and Simon Peter Murphy, who was rescued by his brother-in-law William George Foster, who had recovered and had accompanied the second rescue team.  This would be about average for the group as far as loss of life is concerned.  Of the eighty members in the Donner Party at Truckee Meadows, forty-four, just over half, survived.

["Old Lilburn Boggs is on the opposite side of the Bay & dare not come over for fear of the Mormons. wants to get back to the States but is so poor that he cannot raise the wind. Br. Brannan fell in with a company of Emigrants, who by quarreling & fighting amont themselves, delayed time until they got caught in the Snows on the Mountains last fall & could not extricat themselves. the Snows were much deeper in all this region than was ever Known before. their sufferings were incredible, manny of them perished with cold & hunger. all their cattle died & they were compeled to eat the flesh of those that died among them! In fact they Killd some & among the rest a Mormon woman by the name of Levinah Murphy, who formerly lived in Nauvoo. Those people were in a wretched condition. their Teams all gone, they cannot get away until assistance shall be sent from Orregon. Quarreling is a comon complaint among these Emigrants until they are divided & subdivided into Small parties. Cant agree to travel together in Peace, which fulfils Joseph Smith's Prophecy "that Peace is taken from the Earth." these are the men that have Mobed & Killed the Saints!"

Having traveled across the plains with the Donner-Reed company, Lilburn Boggs escaped their fate by taking the northern route after separating from them at the "Parting of the Way." He arrived at Sutter's Fort in October 1846. Unknown to most Mormons, Bogg's interactions with Mormons in California, including Samuel Brannan, apparently muted his hostility toward the Saints. Bogg's career in California, which included a significant political role for a time, is found in L. Dean Marriott, "Lilburn W. Boggs: Interaction with Mormons Following their Expulsion from Missiouri" 1979 Dissertation, BYU, pages 63-92.

--"The Mormon Vanguard Brigade of 1847: Norton Jacob's Record" Edited by Ronald O. Barney. Utah State University Press, 2005. Pages

["July 10, 1847: Camp fires were discovered about 3 miles from our camp. G. A. Smith & others went over to them And found it to be Mr. Miles Goodyier & several others with him. Some were from Calafornia going back to the States. Mr Goodyier goes by the name of Miles though it is his Christian name. He has setled at the Salt lake. Has A garding & vegitation of all kind He says dong well. He spoke of 3 rodes to the Lake & talked about the Country. The Missourian that was going to the States came through the 80 miles drive without water or grass. Had to leave 5 of his mules on the road. Could not get any through. This is on the Calafornia road. The subject was brought up again concerning the emigant [Donner] Company who perished in the Mountains last winter. They were mostly from Independance & Clay County Missouri And were A mob company & threatened to drive out the mormons that were in Calafornia & started for Calafornia with that spirit in there hearts. But it seemed as though they were ripe for Judgement. The snows fell upon them 18 feet deep on a level & they died & eat up each other. bout 40 persons parished & were mostly eat by those who survived them. Mrs. L Murphy of Tenn whom I baptized while on a mishion in that Country but since Apostized & joined the mob was in the company died or was killed & eat up. Her bones sawed to peaces for her branes & marrow & left strewed upon the ground." --Diary of Wilford Woodruff.]

Donner-Reed Memorial

Donner-Reed Tragedy Monument at Donner, Placier, California

Names of the Donner-Reed Party of 81 persons who were prevented by the snow from crossing the California mountains on October 31, 1846.
Listed are the ones who later arrived in California during December 1846 and February 1847 and March 1847

Lilburn W. Boggs and others had separated from the main party before October 31, 1846.

John Battiste
John Breen
Edward Breen
Isabella Breen
James Breen
Margaret Breen
Patrick Breen
Patrick Breen Jr.
Peter Breen
Simon Breen
Eliza Donner
Francis Donner
George Donner Jr.
Lean Donner
Loithy Donner
Mary Donner
Georgiana Donner
William Eddy
Sarah Fosdick
Sarah Ann Murphy Foster
William Foster (Murphy son-in-law)
Ellen Graves
Jonathan Graves
Mary Graves
Viney Graves
William Graves
Solomon Hook
Noah James
Johan Ludwig Christian Keseberg or Keyesburg or Keeseburg (32)
Mrs. Keysburg
Mary Miriam Murphy (15)
Simon Peter Murphy (8)
William Green Murphy (10)
Catherine Pike (infant)
Harriet F. Murphy Pike
Naomi Pike (baby)
James Reed Jr.
James Frazier Reed
Martha Reed
Mrs. Margaret Reed
Thomas Reed
Virginia Reed
Eliza Williams
Mrs. Woolfinger

Names of the Donner-Reed Party who did Perish in the Mountains
Antonio (New Mexican)
Charles Berger
Betsey Donner
Jacob Donner
John Denton
Patrick Dolan
George Donner Sr.
Isaac Donner
Lewis Donner
Mrs. Tamsen Donner
Samuel Donner
James Eddy (child)
Milton Elliott
Mr. Jay Fosdick
George Murphy Foster (infant)
Franklin Graves
Mr. F. Graves
Mrs. Graves
William Johnson
Bertha Keysburg (child)
Lewis Keysburg
John Landrum Murphy (17)
Lantron Murphy
Lemuel Bird Murphy (13)
Levinah Jackson Murphy (36)
Lewis (Sutter's Indian)
William Pike (Murphy son-in-law)
Joseph Rhinehart
Samuel Shoemaker
James Smith
Augustus Spitzer
Charles Tyler Stanton
Balis Williams


On the morning of April 26, 1847, Samuel Brannan, the California Mormon leader, and his two companions left Sutter's Fort and headed east to meet Brigham Young and the Illinois Mormon pioneers traveling to the Salt Lake Valley. Brannan, having left Johnson's Ranch wrote: "We traveled on foot and drove our animals before us, the snow from twenty to one hundred feet deep. When we arrived though [on the eastern side], not one of us could stand on our feet. The people of California told us we could not cross under two months, there being more snow on the mountains than had ever been known before; but God knows best and was kind enough to prepare the way before us." [Journal History, entry of April 26, 1847]

"Brannan mentions their passing the shacks and cabins of the Donner party, and the "heart-rending pictures" of the unburied dead. On the trail, shortly before arrival at the scene of horror the three men encountered the last member of the party to leave the mountains--a German by the name of Lewis Keseberg....But precious time allowed no immediate concern for Keseberg, or the ghoulish sights about the Donner campground...It was early in June when the three trail-wearied men rode into Fort Hall.....The meeting with Brigham Young did not go well.

Captain James Brown was selected by Brigham Young to take a message of instruction to the California Saints, deliver mail to the Battalion, and was given power of attorney to collect the pay for his detachment. Brannan was left out of the chain of authority. Brannan and Brown began a quarrelsome journey back to Sacrament together. They split up and Brannan rode ahead.

On June 21, 1847 General Kearny's company and Fremont's group, and the Battalion escorts "rested at Bear Creek Valley, where they found a cabin with many things left in it. When they reached Truckee Lake (now Donner Lake) on June 21, they camped near the head of the lake....They descended down to the lake and found the cabins used by the Donner party the winter before. Many of the Donner group starved to death. The soldiers had been told one man lived four months on human flesh, that he sawed heads open, ate brains, and mangled up bodies in a horrible manner. They called the place Cannibal Camp. Kearny called a halt and detailed Major Thomas Swords and a party of five Mormons to bury the bodies lying around. After they buried the bones of the dead, they set fire to the cabin.

'...we...cleared out an old cellar...and put the bones of 150 persons [the Donner party consisted of eighty-one/eighty-four people, thirty-six of whom perished from starvation and exposure] into it and covered them as best we could. This was the most awful sight that my eyes were ever to behold, There was not a whole person that we could find.' (Matthew Caldwell Journal, June 22, 1847)

...One mile beyond was another cabin and more dead bodies. General Kearny did not order them buried. They passed this chilling scene with disbelief at what they saw but without disturbing it." [The Mormon Battalion: U.S. Army of the West, 1846-1848 by Norma Baldwin Ricketts, page 164]

Another group of Mormons, members of the disbanded Mormon Battalion, came upon the Donner camp. After hearing the letter of instruction Captain James Brown had carried to California from the Mormon Church authorities, the group of soldiers divided nearly in half. One half stayed at Sutter's and the surrounding area to work through the winter, the so-called Hancock-Sierra company of approximately 100 men traveled to the Salt Lake Valley. The latter group divided into fifties and tens, they were led by Captain Jefferson Hunt, Levi Hancock, Lytle, Pace, Hyde, Tyler, and Allred.

"The Lytle party continued through the mountains in an easterly course and reached the first campsite of the Donner party where General Kearny's company had buried the bodies. [Stewart, Ordeal By Hunger, pages 141-149]  At sundown they reached the second "cannibal camp" just east of Donner Lake, where General Kearny had not had his men bury the bodies. The men were horrified at the sights--a skull covered with hair, mangles arms and legs with the bones broken. In another place, they found a whole body covered with a blanket and parts of other bodies scattered in all directions....The soldiers thought it was a scene of intense suffering as well as fiendish acts and were relieved to leave the tragic camp." [The Mormon Battalion: U.S. Army of the West, 1846-1848 by Norma Baldwin Ricketts, page 177]

Brown and several ex-battalion soldiers made the trip to California. The company included Abner Blackburn, Lysander Woodworth, Brown's son Jesse Sowell Brown, John S. Fowler (not a Mormon Battalion soldier), Gilbert Hunt, William Squires, and William Gribble.

Returning from Sacramento the group comes upon the Donner Pass "cannibal camp". Captain James Brown orders burial and clean up of the camp.

In the fall of 1842, John A. Sutter leased the land which would later become the City of Marysville to Theodore Cordua. Cordua raised livestock on the land and in1843 built a home and trading post at what is now the southern end of 'D' street.

In 1844, Cordua obtained an additional seven leagues of land, adjacent to that leased from Sutter, from the Mexican government.

Charles Covillaud, a former employee of Cordua, struck it rich in the gold fields and returned to buy one-half of the Cordua Ranch in 1848. The other half was purchased by Michael C. Nye and William Foster in January 1849. Nye and Foster, brothers-in-law to Covillaud's new wife Mary Murphy, then sold their interest to Covillaud. In October of the same year, Covillaud sold three-fourths of the rancho to Jose Ramirez, John Sampson, and Theodore Sicard.During the Gold Rush, the ranch became a point of debarkation for riverboats from San Francisco and Sacramento filled with miners on their way to the 'diggins'. In 1850, the four partners hired French surveyor Augustus Le Plongeon to create a master plan for a town.

This woodcut depicts Marysville as it looked during the early years of the Gold Rush.
There were no levees then and the Feather River was deep enough for riverboats

Newly arrived Attorney Stephen Fields purchased 65 lots and drew up a proper deed for the land being sold. Along with land development came government and the name 'Marysville', named for Covillaud's new wife, Mary Murphy. Mary was a survivor of the ill-fated Donner Party.

Shortly afterward, Marysville was incorporated by the new California legislature and the first mayor was elected in 1851.


James Frazier Reed and his wife, Margaret Reed.
Photo believed to have been taken after the ordeal, c. 1880.


This and more Information can be found at the website listed below:

Levinah W. Jackson

A widow from Tennessee traveling with her extended family.
Age: 36

Parents: Frederick Jackson (b. 11 Jun 1776, Union Co., SC; d. 6 Aug 1836, Union Co., SC) and Charlotte Vinson (b. 8 Oct 1770, d. 8 Nov 1844 Union Co., SC)

b. 15 Dec 1809 Union Co., SC
m. 19 Dec 1825 Union Co., SC to Jeremiah Burns Murphy (b. 3 Mar 1805, Union Co., SC; d. 5 Oct 1839, Weakley Co., TN)
Sarah Ann Charlotte, Harriet Frances, John Landrum, Meriam Marjory, Lemuel B., William Green, Simon Peter
d. March 1847 at the Donner Lake Camp, Nevada Co., CA

     Based on a late memoir by a grandson who had never met her, Mrs. Murphys name has sometimes been rendered "Lavinia," but this form is clearly incorrect. Documents dating from her lifetime give the name as "Levina" or "Levinah" (pronounced luh-VINE-uh). Her son William spelled the name "Levinah"; Wilford Woodruffs 1836 daybook gives the name as "Levinah W. Murphy," as does a transcription of a family Bible.
     She is often called
"old Mrs. Murphy" in the literature of the Donner Party, but Levinah Jackson Murphy was only 36 when she set out for California. She had been born to a prosperous family living in Union District (now County), South Carolina. Her father was a responsible landowner who sat on juries, administered estates, maintained public roads, and was active in the local Baptist church. Levinah is said to have acted as his private secretary.
     Four days after her sixteenth birthday she married Jeremiah Burns Murphy, son of a neighboring family and her first cousin once removed. The bride and groom were both descended from one Richard Murphy, who, according to family tradition, had been kidnapped from Ireland as a boy and sold as an indentured servant in Virginia. Jeremiah and Levinah had four children in South Carolina before they and several of their siblings moved to Weakley County, Tennessee, about 1833. The Murphys settled on a farm about 2 1/2 miles north of Dresden, the county seat. Three more children were born in Tennessee.
     In the summer of 1836 Jeremiah and Levinah frequently entertained Wilford Woodruff and Abraham O. Smoot, elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon church. On August 6, Woodruff recorded that he had baptized "Brother and Sister Murphy" into the LDS church. These were almost certainly Jeremiah and Levinah; however, Jeremiah
s brother Emanuel Masters Murphy and his wife also became Mormons about the same time, so the notation may possibly refer to them.
     Jeremiah died October 5, 1839, leaving his 29-year-old widow with seven children to support, the youngest a toddler of 19 months. Jeremiah left a fair amount of property, and Levinah also put her skills as a tailor and weaver to good use. She was still living in Weakley County when the census-taker passed by in 1840, but by 1841 she and her children had moved to the seat of the Mormon church in Nauvoo, Illinois. There Levinah and Sarah were among the first to perform a new LDS ordinance and were baptized in the Mississippi River as proxies for the dead. The four boys attended a school taught by Henry I. Young (no relation to Brigham) from August 25 to October 28, 1842, in the home of Benjamin L. Clapp, a fellow convert from Tennessee. Late that fall the family left Nauvoo. They boarded a steamship for St. Louis at Warsaw, Illinois, but didn
t get very far: the ship became icebound on the opposite shore of the river. On December 29 the two eldest daughters, Sarah and Harriet, were married on board the ship to William M. Foster and William M. Pike by a justice of the peace.
     After the ship was freed it continued on to St. Louis, where the Pikes and Fosters took up residence. Levinah and her younger children continued on to Tennessee; the Pikes joined them there after about a year. Two years after that the family had decided to emigrate to California. The Murphys and Pikes left Tennessee in March 1846 and picked up the Fosters in St. Louis, making a total of 13 people: Levinah, her five younger children, two married daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren. They traveled to Independence, where they heard that a large caravan had recently left, and caught up with the Russell train at the Big Blue River between May 26-29 while the larger group was waiting for the swollen waters to subside.
     Little emerges from the historical record about Levinah Murphy
s personality. Whether she left the Mormon faith when she left Nauvoo is unclear, but she was a devout woman. Her son William wrote, "She was noted for her extensive erudition in scripture, and the facility with which she handled the subjects then agitating the religious community, and the skill with which she rightly divided the truth."
     In August 1847 the Mormon Battalion's services were no longer needed in California. As the veterans traveled east to Utah they stopped at Johnson
s Ranch before crossing the Sierra. Young Mrs. Johnson, the former Mary Murphy, reportedly told them that her mother

being a widow, with several children dependent upon her for support, while residing in Nauvoo, heard of a chance of obtaining employment at Warsaw, an anti-Mormon town, thirty miles lower down the Mississippi. Thinking to better her condition, she, accordingly, removed to Warsaw, and spent the winter of 1845-46 there. In the spring of the latter year, a party about emigrating to Oregon or California, offered to furnish passage for herself and children on the condition that she would cook and do the washing for the party. Understanding California to be the final destination of the Saints, and thinking this a good opportunity to emigrate without being a burden to the Church, she accepted the proposition, but, alas! the example of Sister Murray [Murphy], although her motives were good, is an illustration of the truism, that "it is better to suffer affliction with the people of God" and trust in Him for deliverance, than to mingle with the sinful "for a season," and be lured by human prospects of a better result!

     This story, as reported, cannot be corroborated. The Murphys took a boat from Warsaw in late 1842 and returned to Tennessee, according to William G. Murphy, and Weakley County sources place the family there during the winter preceding their departure for California. There is no indication that the Murphys were closely associated with another family for whom Levinah might have cooked and washed. However, it was widely known that the Mormons were leaving Illinois, and California was rumored to be their destination. The Murphys very likely did emigrate in order to rejoin the Saints in their new home. According to her daughter Mary, Levinah was very unhappy in Tennessee. Mary also described her mother as "persecuted" and "long suffering," but the precise reasons for Levinahs unhappiness are a mystery.
     Little is known about the Murphys' experiences crossing the plains. When they finally arrived at Donner Lake, Levinah's remaining son-in-law William Foster and William Eddy built a cabin alongside a boulder, using its almost vertical eastern side as one wall. Located about 200 yards from the existing cabin which the Breens occupied, the Murphy cabin site was excavated archaeologically in the 1980s by Donald L. Hardesty of the University of Nevada-Reno. (See his article "Donner Party Archaeology" in Overland Journal 10: 3 (1992), p. 19-26
for more information.)  Here the Murphy clan and the Eddys spent the winter. (For photographs of the boulder, click here.)
     Christmas 1846 was bleak for the Donner Party. That night the Murphys had eaten their supper of boiled bones and Levinah's son William was reading her favorite psalm to her when she became seriously ill. She was blind for a time during the winter, and the Second Relief found that she had become "so reduced by famine, that she was helpless," alternately laughing and weeping. When the Third Relief arrived she was too weak to travel.
     Georgia Donner Babcock wrote to C. F. McGlashan,

Mrs. Murphy was so kind to the little children that we remember her affectionately. It was always my impression that the last [third] relief party took from the cabin Frances, Georgia and Eliza Donner, and Simon Murphy. As we were ready to start, Mrs. Murphy walked to her bed, laid down turned her face toward the wall. One of the men gave her a handful of dried meat.--She seemed to realize that we were leaving her, that her work was finished.

When the Fourth Relief returned a month later, they found her mutilated body.

Sarah Ann Charlotte Murphy

Daughter of Jeremiah Burns Murphy and Levinah W. Jackson; wife of William McFadden Foster.
Age: 19

b. 04 Nov 1826 Union County, SC
m. 29 Dec 1842 Clark Co., MO, to
William McFadden Foster
     Ch: Jeremiah George, Alice E., Georgiana C., William Budd, Minnesota "Minnie," Harriet "Hattie," Frances S.
d. 20 Dec 1906 San Francisco (?), CA

       Sarah Murphy Foster was one of the five young women who joined the Forlorn Hope snowshoe party, leaving her son behind. She and her husband never saw him again.
       Peter H. Burnett met Sarah two years later in Marysville and listened to her talk about the Donner Party:

Mrs. Foster was then about twenty-three years old. She had a fair education, and possessed the finest narrative powers. I never met with any one, not even excepting Robert Newell of Oregon, who could narrate events as well as she. She was not [only?] more accurate and full in her narrative, but a better talker, than Newell. For hour after hour, I would listen in silence to her sad narrative. Her husband was then in good circumstances, and they had no worldly matter to give them pain but their recollections of the past.

        After her husband’s death in 1874 Sarah stayed for a time with her brother William in Marysville but later moved to Mendocino County, where she lived for many years. She died in San Francisco and was buried at Fort Bragg. For a photo of her tombstone, click here.

William McFadden Foster

Husband of Sarah Ann Charlotte Murphy; son-in-law of Levinah W. Jackson;
Age: 30

Parents: David Foster (b. 1782; d. 11 Sep 1840, Crawford Co., PA) and Rebecca McFadden (b. 1786; d. 8 Mar 1861, Crawford Co., PA)

b. 25 Oct 1815 Meadville, Crawford Co., PA
m. 29 Dec 1842 Clark Co., MO to
Sarah Ann Charlotte Murphy
     Ch: Jeremiah George, Alice E., Georgiana C., William Budd, Minnesota "Minnie," Harriet "Hattie," Frances S.
d. 25 Feb 1874 San Francisco, CA

       Nothing is known about William Fosters youth. According to William G. Murphy, Foster was the mate on the boat the Murphy family took from Nauvoo in December 1842. The ship became icebound and two romances sprang up between the crew and the passengers. Foster and his shipmate William Pike were married to Sarah and Harriet Murphy respectively on December 29 by a justice of the peace in Clark County, Missouri, across the river from Nauvoo.
       Foster left the ship and appears to have followed the carpenter
s trade in St. Louis. He and Sarah were living there when their first child, George, was born.
       In the annals of the Donner Party William Foster is best remembered as the man who killed Sutter
s vaqueros, Luis and Salvador, for food. He does not seem to have been much blamed for this act; William Eddys account, related to J. Quinn Thornton, emphasizes that Foster was deranged at the time.
       Regarding his later personality, Peter H. Burnett wrote:

Foster was a man of excellent common sense, and his intelligence had not been affected, like those of many others. His statement was clear, consistent, and intelligible.

       After the disaster Foster worked as a carpenter in San Francisco, but later joined his brothers-in-law, Michael C. Nye and Charles Covillaud, in a ranching venture. During the gold rush he and Nye prospected for gold; Fosters Bar on the Yuba was named for him.
       Foster was a founder and prominent early settler of Marysville, but in the mid-1850s he and his growing family moved to Carver County, Minnesota. An attempt to found a community called San Francisco failed, and they returned to California about 1860.
       William Foster died of cancer in 1874 in San Francisco. A convert to Catholicism, he was buried in the cemetery of the old Mission Dolores.

Jeremiah George Foster

Son of William McFadden Foster and Sarah Ann Charlotte Murphy
Age: 1

b. 25 August 1844 St. Louis, MO
d. March 1847 at the Murphy Cabin, Donner Lake Camp, CA

       This child is referred to as George Foster in Donner Party sources, but Murphy family records indicate that this was actually his middle name.
       There has been some confusion about his age; McGlashan lists him among the nursing infants in the Donner Party, but his age elsewhere is given as four. He was in fact only one when the family set out from Missouri, but had turned two by the time the emigrants reached the lake.
       Sarah and William Foster left George behind with his grandmother when they departed with the Forlorn Hope in mid-December. Levinah did the best she could for him during the dreary winter, but was herself unwell. In February the Second Relief found George and little James Eddy lying in bed, filthy and crying from hunger. They washed the boys and did as much as they could for them, but the outlook was bleak.
       One night in March Louis Keseberg took George to bed with him, and in the morning the boy was dead; grief-stricken, Levinah accused Keseberg of killing him. The little body was cannibalized by the cabin’s inhabitants.

Harriet Frances Murphy

Daughter of Jeremiah Burns Murphy and Levinah W. Jackson; wife of William M. Pike.
Age: 18

b. 08 May 1828 Union Co., SC
m1. 29 Dec 1842 Clark Co., MO to
William M. Pike
     Ch: Naomi Levina, Catherine
m2. 24 Jun 1847 Sutters Fort, Sacramento Co., CA to Michael C. Nye (04 Apr 1821-1905)
     Ch: Harry, d. 21 Oct 1854, age 1 yr 10 mos.; possibly others
d. 1 Sept 1870 at The Dalles, Wasco Co., OR

       Levinah Jackson Murphys second daughter was only 14 when she married William Pike in 1842. They lived for about a year in St. Louis, then made their home in Tennessee with Levinah until the spring of 1846, when the families left to emigrate to California. Harriet lost her husband in a shooting accident along the Truckee River at the end of October 1846. On December 15 she, her brother Lemuel, sister Sarah, and brother-in-law William Foster set out with the Forlorn Hope, leaving her daughters Naomi and Catherine with their grandmother Levinah at the Murphy cabin. The First Relief rescued Naomi, but Catherine died the day after the relief arrived at the camp.
       On May 25, 1847, the Murphy girls wrote to their relatives back in Tennessee. Harriet
s brief note reads in part, "theare is know one that knows how to simpathise with mee left a widow in a strange cuntry with one por orpant childe to take care of I have not the hart nor minde to word all my suffering since I saw you..." A month later, Harriet had found someone to sympathize with her. On June 24, she married Michael C. Nye, who had come to California with the Bidwell-Bartleson Party of 1841 and was now working at Neu Mecklenburg as Theodor Corduas majordomo.
s marriage to the handsome young Nye seems to have been quite happy. In 1849 Mary Murphy wrote, "Harriet is married to Mr. Nye he is a very nice man... he loves Harriet very much." Nye prospected for gold with Foster during the gold rush, but his main interest was stockraising and dealing. He also established a livery stable in Marysville.
       The Nyes and Fosters were living in Marysville when they got to know Peter H. Burnett in 1849: "Mrs. Nye did not talk much, not being a talkative woman, and being younger than Mrs. Foster, her sister."
       Late in 1849 the Nyes and Fosters returned east for a visit via the Isthmus of Panama. There Harriet ran into an acquaintance, Heinrich Lienhard, who was escorting John Sutter
s wife and children from Switzerland to California. Lienhard happened to overhear "an attractive American woman" speaking of him and discovered that it was Mrs. Nye.
       The Nyes lived in Marysville for several years, but moved to Oregon in the 1860s. Harriet died at the relatively young age of 46 and was buried in Marysville, but her widower remained in Oregon until his death in 1905.

William Montgomery Pike

Husband of Harriet Frances Murphy; son-in-law of Levinah W. Jackson
Age: [32]

Parents: James Brown Pike (b. 01 May 1784, New York, d. 19 Apr 1855 Kirkville, Wapello Co., Iowa) and Mrs. Wolfries.

b. abt 1814 in Dearborn Co., Indiana
m1. 29 Dec 1842 Clark Co., MO to Harriet Frances Murphy
     Ch: Naomi Levina, Catherine
d. Late Oct 1846 along the Truckee River in Nevada

       William M. Pike, the illegitimate son of James Brown Pike and a Mrs. Wolfries, was a grandson of a Revolutionary War officer, Zebulon Pike, and a nephew of the explorer Zebulon Montgomery Pike, after whom Pike’s Peak in Colorado is named.
       In late 1842 Pike was the engineer aboard a riverboat which became icebound on the western shore of the Mississippi. One of the passengers was fourteen-year-old Harriet Murphy. The couple was married on board the ship on December 29, the same day that William Foster married Harriet’s sister Sarah. The Pikes spent about a year in St. Louis, then went to live with Harriet’s family in Weakley County, Tennessee.
       There Pike helped clear a 200-acre tract belonging to the family. His unfamiliarity with woodcutting amused the Murphy boys, who nevertheless thought him "the greatest man they ever met." According to William G. Murphy, Pike was "an extraordinary man, a real genius, a full fledged mechanic" and a "powerful ally" to Levinah Murphy.
       On the trail, Pike is recorded as going ahead with James F. Reed and Charles Stanton to overtake Hastings and get his advice about the route through the Wasatch Mountains. In 1871, however, Reed wrote that his companions were Stanton and William McCutchen. It has been suggested that Reed confused the mission to consult Hastings with the sending of Stanton and McCutchen ahead to Sutter’s Fort for supplies. Whatever the case, the earliest sources--an article which appeared in the California Star on February 13, 1847 and J. Quinn Thornton’s Oregon and California in 1848--report that it was Pike; survivors told McGlashan it was Pike; even Virginia Reed Murphy said it was Pike, contradicting her father.
       In October, while the company was traveling along the Humboldt, Pike returned from a hunting trip with William Eddy to discover that Mr. Hardcoop had been put out of Keseberg’s wagon and was now missing. When Hardcoop had not arrived at the camp the next morning, Pike, Eddy, and Milt Elliott volunteered to go on foot after him, but the company would not wait and they were forced to leave Hardcoop to his fate.
       William Pike met his own fate not long thereafter. As C. F. McGlashan told it

After the arrival of Stanton, it was still deemed necessary to take further steps for the relief of the train. The generosity of Captain Sutter, as shown to Stanton, warranted them in believing that he would send still further supplies to the needy emigrants. Accordingly, two brothers-in-law, William Foster and William Pike, both brave and daring spirits, volunteered to go on ahead, cross the summits, and return with provisions as Stanton had done. Both men had families, and both were highly esteemed in the company. At the encampment near Reno, Nevada, while they were busily preparing to start, the two men were, cleaning or loading a pistol. It was an old-fashioned "pepper-box." It happened, while they were examining it, that wood was called for to replenish the fire. One of the men offered to procure it, and in order to do so, handed the pistol to the other. Everybody knows that the "pepper-box" is a very uncertain weapon. Somehow, in the transfer, the pistol was discharged. William Pike was fatally wounded, and died in about twenty minutes. Mrs. Pike was left a widow, with two small children. The youngest, Catherine, was a babe of only a few months old, and Naomi was only three years of age. The sadness and distress occasioned by this mournful accident, cast a gloom over the entire company, and seemed an omen of the terrible fate which overshadowed the Donner Party.

Naomi Levina Pike

Daughter of William M. Pike and Harriet Frances Murphy
Age: 2

b. 13 Nov 1843 in St. Louis, MO
m1. 8 Sep 1864 in Marysville, Yuba Co., CA to Benjamin W. Mitchell
m2. abt 1877 to John L. Schenck
d. 3 Apr 1934 in The Dalles, Wasco Co., OR

       John Rhoads of the First Relief met Harriet Pike at Johnson’s Ranch, and, moved by her plight, determined to rescue her children. He may have been influenced by the fact that he, like Harriet, was or had been a Mormon. Catherine died the day after the relief arrived, but Naomi was still alive. Rhoads carried her slung on his back in a blanket to her mother. Decades later, Naomi wrote of him with gratitude.
       Harriet’s marriage to Michael C. Nye gave Naomi a kind stepfather. Mary Murphy wrote, "he loves Naomi as well as if she war his own child." She was often called "Naomi Nye."
       Naomi married Benjamin Mitchell, a physician, in Marysville and moved to Oregon; the Nyes later moved there as well. After Mitchell’s death she married John L. Schenck, an agent for a steamship company who later went into banking. When he died in 1913 he left Naomi a wealthy widow, but she was impoverished by the stock market crash of 1929. She had no children by either of her husbands.
       When Naomi died in 1934, the passing of the next to the last survivor of the Donner Party was widely reported in the press.

Catherine Pike

Daughter of William M. Pike and Harriet Frances Murphy
Age: [1]

       Catherine Pike was evidently named after her father’s sister, who had died in 1843 at the age of 22. Catherine’s exact age is unknown; her sister Naomi Pike Schenck wrote Kansas historian John Ellenbecker that Catherine was only "nine months old," but was that Catherine’s age when she died or when the family left Missouri for California?
       In mid-December Harriet Pike left her two small daughters behind in a desperate attempt to seek assistance:

Dear Mrs. Murphy had the most sacred and pitiful charge. It was the wee nursing babe, Catherine Pike, whose mother had gone with the "Forlorn Hope," to try, if possible, to procure relief. All there was to give the tiny sufferer, was a little gruel made from snow water, containing a slight sprinkling of coarse flour. This flour was simply ground wheat, unbolted. Day after day the sweet little darling would lie helplessly upon its grandmother’s lap, and seem with its large, sad eyes to be pleading for nourishment. Mrs. Murphy carefully kept the little handful of flour concealed--there was only a handful at the very beginning--lest some of the starving children might get possession of the treasure. Each day she gave Catherine a few teaspoonfuls of the gruel. Strangely enough, this poor little martyr did not often cry with hunger, but with tremulous, quivering mouth, and a low, subdued sob or moan, would appear to be begging for something to eat. The poor, dumb lips, if gifted with speech, could not have uttered a prayer half so eloquent, so touching. Could the mother, Mrs. Pike, have been present, it would have broken her heart to see her patient babe dying slowly, little by little. Starvation had dried the maternal breasts long before Mrs. Pike went away, so that no one can censure her for leaving her baby. She could only have done as Mrs. Murphy did, give it the plain, coarse gruel, and watch it die, day by day, upon her lap.

On February 22, 1847, Patrick Breen recorded, "I burried pikes child this moring in the snow it died 2 days ago."

John Landrum Murphy

Son of Jeremiah Burns Murphy and Levinah W. Jackson
Age: 16

b. 16 Nov 1829 Union Co., SC
d. 31 Jan 1847 at the Murphy cabin, Donner Lake Camp, Nevada Co., CA

       When Foster and Eddy left with the Forlorn Hope in mid-December, Landrum became the oldest male living at the Murphy cabin. On him no doubt fell the brunt of cutting firewood and shoveling snow, chores which became increasingly arduous as he weakened from starvation.
       Patrick Breen
s diary records his decline: on January 17, "Lanthrom crazy last night"; January 19: "Lanthrom very low in danger if relief dont come soon"; January 27: "Lanthrom lying in bed the whole of his time"; January 31: "Lantron Murphy died last night about one Oclock."
       As C.F. McGlashan described it,

Landrum Murphy was a large and somewhat overgrown young man. The hides and burnt bones did not contain sufficient nourishment to keep him alive. For some hours before he died, he lay in a semi-delirious state, breathing heavily and seemingly in little or no pain. Mrs. Murphy went to the Breen camp, and asked Mrs. Breen for a piece of meat to save her starving boy. Mrs. Breen gave her the meat, but it was too late, Landrum could not eat. Finally he sank into a gentle slumber. His breathing grew less and less distinct, and ere they were fairly aware of it life was extinct.

Meriam Marjory Murphy

Daughter of Jeremiah Burns Murphy and Levinah W. Jackson
Age: 14

b. 15 Nov 1831 Union Co., SC
m1. 24 Jun 1847 Sutter
s Fort, Sacramento Co., CA to William Johnson; divorced
m2. 25 Dec 1848 Sutter
s Fort, Sacramento Co., CA to Charles Julian Covillaud (b. 21 Nov 1816 in Cognac, France; d. 05 Feb 1867 Marysville, Yuba Co., CA)
     Ch: Mary Ellen, Charles Julian, William Pierre, Francis Theodore, Naomi Sabine
d. 27 Sep 1867 Marysville, Yuba Co., CA

       Although she is usually known as Mary, church and family records give her name as Meriam, a form that occurs several times in the Jackson and Murphy families. The middle name Marjory is from a transcription of a family Bible.
       Mary was rescued from the Donner Lake camp by the First Relief in February 1847. She was haunted by the tragedy. In May 1847 she wrote, "i hope i shall not live long for i am tired of this troublesome world and i want to go to my mother." A brief and troubled marriage to William Johnson, the proprietor of Johnson
s Ranch, was followed by a much happier union with Charles Covillaud. Yet in 1849, despite her greatly improved circumstances, Mary was still sad: "I shall always wish that it had been gods will for me to die with my Mother."
       During the gold rush a thriving town sprang up on the Yuba river at what had been known as Nye
s Ranch. The town was named Marysville after the wife of a prominent citizen, Mrs. Charles Covillaud--the former Mary Murphy.
       As a surviving photograph shows, Mary was a lovely young woman; Heinrich Lienhard remembered the first time that he saw "the beautiful Mary." Bostonian Franklin A. Buck met Mary Covillaud and her sister Sarah Foster in 1850. He acknowledged her looks but was otherwise unimpressed:
Mrs. C. and Mrs. F. are two of the party who came over the mountains in 1846 and came so near starving. You recollect the horrid sufferings they endured, even to eating each other. They are the elite of the place, of course. Mrs. Covilland is quite young and pretty but there is not the least refinement or taste about them. The fact is that there is no woman who can come to this country at present and have any refinement. Their finer feelings, if they have any, will soon get blunted with the life they must live here.

Although she did not meet Franklin Bucks standard of refinement, Mary was remembered as a kind and generous woman who enjoyed flowers. She seems to have lived happily in the town that bore her name. Charles Covillaud died in February 1867 and his widow followed him only seven months later, dying at the age of 35. She is buried in the Catholic cemetery at Marysville.

Lemuel Bird Murphy

Son of Jeremiah Burns Murphy and Levinah W. Jackson
Age: 12

b. 17 Oct 1833 Weakley Co., TN.
d. 27 Dec 1846 at Camp of Death, Nevada Co., CA.

         The birthplace of Lemuel Murphy, Levinah's second son, is uncertain but was it probably Tennessee.
         Lemuel set out with the Forlorn Hope in mid-December:

A boy about thirteen years old, Lemuel was dearly loved by his sisters, and, full of courage, had endeavored to accompany them on the fearful journey. He was feeble when he started from the cabins, and the overwhelming sufferings of the fatal trip had destroyed his remaining strength.... (C. F. McGlashan)

       At Camp of Death Sarah Foster sat holding Lemuel and trying to comfort him in his delirium. The sun set, the moon rose, and about two o’clock in the morning Lemuel died. Ever afterwards, Sarah told McGlashan, she could never "behold a bright moonlight without recurring with a shudder to this night on the Sierra."

Mrs. Foster spoke of this young hero with the greatest feeling. His patience and resignation were of the martyr type. When they were reduced to half a biscuit each, he insisted that she should eat his portion as well as her own; but this she refused. (Peter H. Burnett)

William Green Murphy

Son of Jeremiah Burns Murphy and Levinah W. Jackson
Age: 10

b. 15 Jan 1836 Dresden, Weakley Co., TN
m. 03 Dec 1861 Weakley Co., TN to Damaris Kathleen Cochran
     Ch: Tullulah "Lulie" T., Kate Nye, William Green, Jr., Charles Mitchell, Ernest H., Harriet F., Leander B.
d. 04 Feb 1904 Marysville, Yuba Co., CA

       Young William set out with the Forlorn Hope with other members of his family, but had no snowshoes and had to turn back. Had he not done so, he almost certainly would have met the same fate as his brother Lemuel. Two months later, on his way out of the mountains with the First Relief, William’s feet became so badly frostbitten that he couldn’t continue, but it came to a choice of walk or die. He walked.
       After their rescue and recuperation, the two surviving Murphy boys flourished in California. In 1849 their sister Mary Covillaud wrote, "William and Simon are large helthy boys and as like the other boyes was William can ride wild horses like a spaniard they can talk spanish and indian to[o]." William acted as an Indian interpreter at Bidwell’s Bar in 1848-49.
In December 1849 William and Simon Murphy accompanied their sister Harriet and brother-in-law Michael Nye east via the Isthmus of Panama. At Gorgona they met John Sutter’s family, who were on their way to Sacramento escorted by Heinrich Lienhard. After arriving at New Orleans, William and his companions traveled on to Dresden, Tennessee, where the family still owned property.
       The Nyes returned to California but the boys stayed on, living with a local family. Evidently William, as the eldest surviving son, was expected to continue his education. His schooling had been scanty, however, so he had to be tutored until he was ready to enter the University of Missouri at Columbia for the school year 1852-53. In 1854 he returned to California, helping to drive a large herd of cattle back to Marysville, but after a few years went back to Missouri and completed his education, graduating in 1861.
       William returned to Marysville, where he was admitted to the bar in January 1863. In August of that year he was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of Nevada and practiced law in Virginia City for three years, but in 1866 went back to Marysville for good. His law practice was very successful. He served as court commissioner for twenty-seven years and also as district attorney of Yuba County.
       Murphy stood more than six feet tall, loved children, was a noted orator, a staunch prohibitionist, and a founder of Marysville’s Christian  Church (Disciples of Christ). His passing in 1904 was sincerely mourned by his fellow citizens.

Simon Peter Murphy

Son of Jeremiah Burns Murphy and Levinah W. Jackson
Age: 8

b. 14 Mar 1838 Weakley Co., TN
m. 21 Sep 1859 Weakley Co., TN to M. C. Foster
Ch: John Robert, Naomi, Geneva, Emanuel Byrd
d. 31 Mar 1873 Weakley Co., TN

       Simon was rescued with the three little Donner girls by the Third Relief. Georgia Donner Babcock referred to him as "Simon Murphy, whom I remember so kindly."
       Simon and William Murphy returned to Weakley County, Tennessee in 1849. Simon remained there, but William returned West after graduating from college.
       When the Civil War broke out, Simon served as a private in Company L, Sixth Cavalry, USA, also called the West Tennessee Cavalry Regiment. His unit was described on May 6, 1864 as "a raw, undisciplined detachment" and for many months was reported as "dismounted and unassigned."
       Simon stayed in contact with his family in California -- his death was reported in a Sacramento newspaper -- but little known about his children. At least some of them had children of their own: In January 1952, when the passenger train City of San Francisco was trapped by snow for three days in the Sierra, the analogy to the Donner Party did not escape the notice of the media. A Tennessee newspaper article reporting the incident published information given by a descendant of Simon P. Murphy.


PAF - Archer files = Captain James Brown + (7) Phebe Abbott > Orson Pratt Brown + Angela Gabaldon > Bertha Brown + Everardo Navas > Lucy Navas + Michael Murphy < Glenn Eugene Murphy + Ila May Draper < Carmi Leo Murphy < Hiram Dexter Murphy < Enoch F. Murphy

Mark Simon Bird Murphy + Holly Ann Dukes > Emanuel Masters Murphy + Sarah Elizabeth Alexander : Susan Arberrilla Alexander + Isaac Bowman + also to Bertha Eyring (parents of Henry Eyring Bowman) < Jacob Bowman + Catherina Robbins (parents of Isaac Bowman).
Emanuel Masters Murphy and Jeremiah Byrd Burns Murphy are brothers.
Sarah Elizabeth Alexander Murpy and Susan Arberrilla Alexander Bowman are sisters.

For further information on the Murphy family and the Donner Party: http://www.xmission.com/~octa/DonnerParty/Murphy.htm#William%20M.%20Pike

Bryant, Edwin. "What I Saw in California". First Bison Book, University of Nebraska Press, 1985. [First published in 1848 by D. Appleton & Co.] 979.4 B915 wh.  Page 260-261, 263.




"Snowbound: The Tragic Story of the Donner Party" by David Lavender, identifies the top photo as Virginia E. Reed

BYU Studies, Historian’s Corner, “The Mormons and the Donner Party” by Eugene Edward Campbell. Spring 1971 Volume XI, Number 3, pages 307-311.

“History of the Donner Party: a Tragedy of the Sierras”, Charles Fayette McGlashan, Stanford University Press, 1968.

"The Mormon Battalion: U.S. Army of the West 1836-1848"  orma Baldwin Ricketts, 1996.

Additions, bold, [bracketed], some photos, etc., added by Lucy Brown Archer

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- Stephen Joseph Abbott of, PA 1804-1843

- Abigail Smith of Williamson, N.Y. 1806-1889

- John Fife of Tulliallan, Scotland 1807-1874

- Mary Meek Nicol, Carseridge, Scotland 1809-1850 


- Martha "Mattie" Diana Romney Brown 1870-1943

- Jane "Jennie" Bodily Galbraith Brown 1879-1944

- Elizabeth Graham MacDonald Webb Brown 1874-1904

- Eliza Skousen Brown Abbott Burk 1882-1958

- Angela Maria Gavaldón Brown 1919-1967


- (Martha) Carrie Brown (child) 1888-1890

- (Martha) Orson Pratt Brown, Jr. (child) 1890-1892

- (Martha) Ray Romney Brown 1892-1945

- (Martha) Clyde Romney Brown 1893-1948

- (Martha) Miles Romney Brown 1897-1974

- (Martha) Dewey B. Brown 1898-1954

- (Martha) Vera Brown Foster Liddell Ray 1901-1975

- (Martha) Anthony Morelos Brown 1904-1970

- (Martha) Phoebe Brown Chido Gardiner 1906-1973

- (Martha) Orson Juarez Brown 1908-1981

- (Jane) Ronald Galbraith Brown 1898-1969

- (Jane) Grant "Duke" Galbraith Brown 1899-1992

- (Jane) Martha Elizabeth Brown Leach Moore 1901-1972

- (Jane) Pratt Orson Galbraith Brown 1905-1960

- (Jane) William Galbraith Brown (child) 1905-1912

- (Jane) Thomas Patrick Porfirio Diaz Brown 1907-1978

- (Jane) Emma Jean Galbraith Brown Hamilton 1909-1980

- (Elizabeth) (New born female) Webb 1893-1893

- (Elizabeth) Elizabeth Webb Brown Jones 1895-1982

- (Elizabeth) Marguerite Webb Brown Shill 1897-1991

- (Elizabeth) Donald MacDonald Brown 1902-1971

- (Elizabeth) James Duncan Brown 1904-1943

- (Eliza) Gwen Skousen Brown Erickson Klein 1903-1991

- (Eliza) Anna Skousen Brown Petrie Encke 1905-2001

- (Eliza) Otis Pratt Skousen Brown 1907-1987

- (Eliza) Orson Erastus Skousen Brown (infant) 1909-1910

- (Eliza) Francisco Madera Skousen Brown 1911-1912

- (Eliza) Elizabeth Skousen Brown Howell 1914-1999

- (Angela) Silvestre Gustavo Brown 1919-

- (Angela) Bertha Erma Elizabeth Brown 1922-1979

- (Angela) Pauly Gabaldón Brown 1924-1998

- (Angela) Aaron Aron Saul Brown 1925

- (Angela) Mary Angela Brown Hayden Green 1927

- (Angela) Heber Jedediah Brown (infant) 1936-1936

- (Angela) Martha Gabaldón Brown Gardner 1940


- Stephen Abbott Brown 1851-1853

- Phoebe Adelaide Brown Snyder 1855-1930

- Cynthia Abigail Fife Layton 1867-1943

- (New born female) Fife 1870-1870

- (Toddler female) Fife 1871-1872


- (Martha Stephens) John Martin Brown 1824-1888

(Martha Stephens) Alexander Brown 1826-1910

(Martha Stephens) Jesse Stowell Brown 1828-1905

- (Martha Stephens) Nancy Brown Davis Sanford 1830-1895

(Martha Stephens) Daniel Brown 1832-1864

(Martha Stephens) James Moorhead Brown 1834-1924

(Martha Stephens) William Brown 1836-1904

(Martha Stephens) Benjamin Franklin Brown 1838-1863

(Martha Stephens) Moroni Brown 1838-1916

- (Susan Foutz) Alma Foutz Brown (infant) 1842-1842

- (Esther Jones) August Brown (infant) 1843-1843

- (Esther Jones) Augusta Brown (infant) 1843-1843

- (Esther Jones) Amasa Lyman Brown (infant) 1845-1845

- (Esther Jones) Alice D. Brown Leech 1846-1865

- (Esther Jones) Esther Ellen Brown Dee 1849-1893

- (Sarah Steadwell) James Harvey Brown 1846-1912

- (Mary McRee) George David Black 1841-1913

- (Mary McRee) Mary Eliza Brown Critchlow1847-1903

- (Mary McRee) Margaret Brown 1849-1855

- (Mary McRee) Mary Brown Edwards Leonard 1852-1930

- (Mary McRee) Joseph Smith Brown 1856-1903

- (Mary McRee) Josephine Vilate Brown Newman 1858-1917

- (Phebe Abbott) Stephen Abbott Brown (child) 1851-1853

- (Phebe Abbott) Phoebe Adelaide Brown 1855-1930

- (Cecelia Cornu) Charles David Brown 1856-1926

- (Cecelia Cornu) James Fredrick Brown 1859-1923

- (Lavinia Mitchell) Sarah Brown c. 1857-

- (Lavinia Mitchell) Augustus Hezekiah Brown c. 1859


- (Diane Davis) Sarah Jane Fife White 1855-1932

- (Diane Davis) William Wilson Fife 1857-1897

- (Diane Davis) Diana Fife Farr 1859-1904

- (Diane Davis) John Daniel Fife 1863-1944

- (Diane Davis) Walter Thompson Fife 1866-1827

- (Diane Davis) Agnes Ann "Aggie" Fife 1869-1891

- (Diane Davis ) Emma Fife (child) 1871-1874

- (Diane Davis) Robert Nicol Fife (infant) 1873-1874

- (Diane Davis) Barnard Fife (infant) 1881-1881

- (Cynthia Abbott) Mary Lucina Fife Hutchins 1868-1950

- (Cynthia Abbott) Child Fife (infant) 1869-1869

- (Cynthia Abbott) David Nicol Fife 1871-1924

- (Cynthia Abbott) Joseph Stephen Fife (child) 1873-1878

- (Cynthia Abbott) James Abbott Fife (infant) 1877-1878


- (Diana) Caroline Lambourne 18461979

- (Diana)  Miles Park Romney 1843-1904

- (Jane) Emma Sarah Bodily 1858-1935

- (Jane) William Wilkie Galbraith 1838-1898

- (Elizabeth) Alexander F. Macdonald 1825-1903

- (Elizabeth) Elizabeth Atkinson 1841-1922

- (Eliza) Anne Kirstine Hansen 1845-1916

- (Eliza) James Niels Skousen 1828-1912

- (Angela) Maria Durán de Holguin 1876-1955

- (Angela) José Tomás Gabaldón 1874-1915












Contact Us:
Orson Pratt Brown Family Organization
P.O. Box 980111
Park City, Utah 84098-0111