This is a photostatic copy of a manuscript entitled
Thrilling and Tragic Journal written by George McKinstry, Jr., chronicling his journey with the Donner Party from 1846-1847. This photostatic copy was
made in 1942 from the original in the Edward E. Ayer Collection at the Newberry Library in Chicago. A label on the front of
the file folder states that the diary was actually written by Patrick Breen, who gave the diary to George McKinstry in the
spring of 1847.
George W. McKinstry (c. 1810 -1882) arrived in California in 1846, after making the overland journey westward from Independence,
Missouri. He became the first American sheriff of California. McKinstry assisted in the rescue of the Donner Party and chronicled
the rescue expedition in the Breen Diary, which was submitted to Washington.Patrick Breen (ca. 1805-1868). Breen was born in Ireland, emigrated to Canada in 1828, and later moved to Iowa Territory,
marrying Margaret in 1831. Patrick and Margaret had seven children -- John, Edward, Patrick, Simon, Peter, James, and Isabella,
and in the spring of 1846, the family joined The Doner Party, bound for California. The party's ill-fated journey across the
Sierra Nevada Mountains was partially documented in the diary Breen kept while stranded in a mountain camp at Donner (then
called Truckee) Lake. After their rescue, the family arrived at Sutter's Fort, New Helvetia, in March of 1847. The Breens
then lived for a short time on the Consumnes River and then in San Jose. In February of 1848 they settled in San Juan Bautista
-- becoming its first non-Spanish-speaking residents -- where Breen would live as a rancher for the remainder of his life.
Patrick Breen died in 1868.
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