Inventory of the Eliza Poor Donner Houghton Papers, 1820-1978

Processed by Brooke M. Black; machine-readable finding aid created by Xiuzhi Zhou
Manuscripts Department
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2203
Fax: (626) 449-5720
Email: lgarcia@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org/huntingtonlibrary.aspx?id=554
© 2000
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.

Inventory of the Eliza Poor Donner Houghton Papers, 1820-1978

The Huntington Library



San Marino, California

Contact Information

  • Manuscripts Department
  • The Huntington Library
  • 1151 Oxford Road
  • San Marino, California 91108
  • Phone: (626) 405-2203
  • Fax: (626) 449-5720
  • Email: lgarcia@huntington.org
  • URL: http://www.huntington.org/huntingtonlibrary.aspx?id=554
Processed by:
Brooke M. Black
Date Completed:
February 8, 1999
Encoded by:
Xiuzhi Zhou
© 2000 The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Eliza Poor Donner Houghton Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1820-1978
Collection number: HM 58111-58197
Acquisition number: 1738
Creator: Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner
Extent: 4 boxes
Repository: The Huntington Library
San Marino, California 91108
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Provenance

This collection was a gift to the Huntington Library from John S. Houghton and Anne Houghton Smith in March 1995.

Access

Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

Publication Rights

In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Eliza Poor Donner Houghton Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Biographical Note

Eliza Poor Donner Houghton (1843-1922), the youngest daughter of George and Tamsen Donner, was three years old when her family left their home in Illinois to head out west to California. This group of travelers, who became trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1846, ultimately became known as the ill-fated Donner Party. In March 1847, after several months of entrapment, Eliza and her sisters were rescued by the third relief party to reach the camps. George and Tamsen Donner both died in the mountains, and Eliza and her sister Georgia were taken in by Christian and Mary Brunner, elderly immigrants from Switzerland. In 1854, Eliza moved to Sacramento to live with her oldest half-sister, Elitha Donner Wilder, also a survivor of the Donner Party.
In 1861, Eliza married Sherman Otis Houghton (1828-1914), the widower of Mary Donner, Eliza's cousin and fellow Donner Party survivor. Sherman Houghton was a prominent lawyer in San Jose who served in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1871-1875. Eliza's experience with the Donner Party was the defining event of her life; she kept in contact with fellow survivors and documented their stories. Eliza wanted to tell the true account of the Donner Party, and while doing her research for her book, she became very interested in the history of California and the pioneers who came to this new land. In 1911 she published her book, The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate. The first half of this book gives Eliza's account of the events in the winter of 1846-47. In the second half of the book, Eliza tells of her life growing up in Sonoma and Sacramento in the 1850s, and her memories of "gold fever." The book ends with her marriage in 1861. Eliza attended the dedication ceremony of the Pioneer (Donner) Monument, near Truckee, California, in 1918 with fellow survivors Francis Donner Wilder and Patty Reed Lewis. Eliza died in Los Angeles in 1922.

Organization

The collection contains 89 cataloged items, including 49 pieces of correspondence and three oversize items. The collection spans the period 1820-1978, but the bulk of the material is from 1900-1920. The collection is alphabetically arranged by author in the following series:
  • 1. Manuscripts and Notes (Box 1)
  • 2. Correspondence (Box 2)
  • 3. Manuscripts and Ephemera (Box 3)
  • 4. Land Tracts (Box 4)
  • 5. Oversize Items

Scope and Content

The collection contains correspondence, notebooks, manuscripts, land tracts, scrapbooks, cartes-de-visites and ephemera. Although the majority of the material in the collection deals with the Donner Party, several items written by Eliza Poor Donner Houghton deal with California history. These items are chiefly about the discovery of gold in California in 1849 and its effect on American history and the development of California as a state. In addition to Eliza, nine other Donner Party members are represented in this collection, both in correspondence and photographs.
About half of the 49 pieces of correspondence (1910-1918) deal with the planning, building and dedication of the Pioneer (Donner) Monument; most of this correspondence consists of letters between Eliza Poor Donner Houghton and C. W. Chapman, the Chairman of the Donner Monument Committee. There are also seven letters (1820-1842) by Tamsen Donner to her sister Elizabeth Eustis Poor, of which six were written before Tamsen's marriage to George Donner. The letter from Eliza to "My Children" was written immediately after her visit in 1884 with John Baptiste Trudeau, during which he gave his account of events at the mountain camps, his relationship with the Donners, his last words with George and Tamsen Donner, and his rescue by the third relief party. This letter contains material that Eliza did not publish in her book.
The notebooks and manuscripts, all written by Eliza, deal either with the Donner Party or the history of California. There is an incomplete handwritten draft of The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate. Although this draft is missing sections of the published book, it contains material that does not appear in the published version.
The scrapbooks (1860-1920) contain mostly news clippings concerning Sherman Houghton's political career in California, although there are some clippings concerning the Donner Party.

Container List

 

Manuscripts/Notes

Box 1

Grafton Publishing Corporation.

 

Publishing contract for The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate, (1920, June 22-Aug. 17). HM 58111.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

"California Before the Argonauts": essay, [1900], with hand written corrections. HM 58112.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Dedication of the Pioneer Monument: essay apparently written for the Springfield Illinois Journal, (1918, July 28). HM 58113.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

"Drops From a Pioneer Pitcher": essay, [1900], with hand written corrections. Note: includes letter from Collisto Willard Scott to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton, 1896, May 20. HM 58114.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Fragment re: Donner Party , [before 1915], collected by the author in an envelope labeled "The Finding of Gold and the Fortyniner, Feb. 4, 1915." HM 58115.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Fragment re: the Brunner's Farm, [before 1915], collected by the author in an envelope labeled "The Finding of Gold and the Fortyniner, Feb. 4, 1915." HM 58116.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Note on an illustration of the Pioneer Monument to be used in an edition of The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate, (1920, Oct.). HM 58117.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Notes re: California history, 6 p., [before 1916], collected by the author in an envelope labeled "Personal Reminiscences, Feb. 1, 1916." HM 58118.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Notes re: California history, 9 p., [before 1916], collected by the author in an envelope labeled "Personal Reminiscences, Feb. 1, 1916." HM 58119.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Notes re: Donner Party, 4 p., [before 1916], collected by the author in an envelope labeled "Personal Reminiscences, Feb. 1, 1916." HM 58120.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Notes re: Donner Party, 13 p., [before 1916], collected by the author in an envelope labeled "Personal Reminiscences, Feb. 1, 1916." HM 58121.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Notes re: George IV and Sir Robert Peel, 6 p., [before 1916], collected by the author in an envelope labeled "Personal Reminiscences, Feb. 1, 1916." HM 58122.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Notes re: gold discovery in California, 8 p., [before 1916], collected by the author in an envelope labeled "Personal Reminiscences, Feb. 1, 1916." HM 58123.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Notes re: Ulysses S. Grant's Inauguration, 6 p., [before 1916], collected by the author in an envelope labeled "Personal Reminiscences, Feb. 1, 1916." HM 58124.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Speech: to the members of the Van Nuys Woman's Club, re: California history, 28 p., [before 1915], collected by the author in an envelope labeled "The Finding of Gold and the Fortyniner, Feb. 4, 1915." HM 58125.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Speech [incomplete]: to the members of the Van Nuys Woman's Club, 1 p., [before 1915], collected by the author in an envelope labeled "The Finding of Gold and the Fortyniner, Feb. 4, 1915." HM 58126.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Speech [incomplete]: to the members of the Van Nuys Woman's Club, 2 p., [before 1915], collected by the author in an envelope labeled "The Finding of Gold and the Fortyniner, Feb. 4, 1915." On verso: Letter to "My Dear Elizabeth" by Eliza Poor Donner Houghton, incomplete. HM 58127.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Untitled essay beginning, "Doubtless most of you have heard. . .", 33 p., [before 1915], collected by the author in an envelope labeled "The Finding of Gold and the Fortyniner, Feb. 4, 1915." HM 58128.

 

------.

 

Review of The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate by Eliza Poor Donner Houghton, [1911], with hand written corrections . HM 58129.

 

Correspondence

Box 2

Alliott, Hector.

 

1 letter (1912, Jan. 25) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58130.

 

Bond, Frances "Frankie" Eustis.

 

2 letters (1879-1894) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58131-58132.

 

Brunner, Christian.

 

1 letter (1861, Mar. 25) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton and Georgia Ann Donner Babcock. HM 58133.

 

Brunner, Mary.

 

1 letter (1861, Jan. 12) to Georgia Ann Donner Babcock and Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58134.

 

Brunner, Christian, and Mary Brunner.

 

1 letter (1856, Sep. 10) to Georgia Ann Donner Babcock and Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58135.

 

Brunner, Mary, and Christian Brunner.

 

1 letter (1856, July 3) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58136.

 

Caldwell, Ben F----.

 

1 letter (1912, Jan. 3) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58137.

 

Chapman, C---- W----.

 

11 letters (1910-1918) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58138-58148.

 

Chapman, C---- W----.

 

1 letter (1918, Mar. 7) to Fred H. Jung. HM 58149.

 

Chapman, C---- W----.

 

1 letter (1918, Mar. 1) to "All Parlors of the Native Sons of the Golden West." HM 58150.

 

Chapman, C---- W----.

 

1 letter (1911, Jan. 31) to Douglas Tilden. HM 58151.

 

Donner, Tamsen, 1801-1847.

 

7 letters (1820?-1842) to Elizabeth Eustis Poor. HM 58152-58158.

 

Estrada, E---- M----.

 

1 letter (1918, Dec. 30) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58159.

 

Frémont, Jessie Benton, 1824-1902.

 

1 letter ([1890], Oct. 23) to Sherman Otis Houghton. HM 58160.

 

Guinn, J. M. (James Miller), 1834-1918.

 

1 letter (1897, Apr. 29) to Sherman Otis Houghton and Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58161.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

1 letter (1911, Aug. 9) to C. W. Chapman. HM 58162.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

1 letter (1912, Mar. 18) to Patty Reed Lewis, 1838 or 9-1923. HM 58163.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

1 letter (1912, Mar. 18) to Patty Reed Lewis, 1838 or 9-1923, typewritten copy of HM 58163. HM 58164. 

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

1 letter (1920, July 13) to C. F. (Charles Fayette) McGlashan, 1847-1931. HM 58165.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

1 letter (1884, Nov. 11-12) to "My Children". HM 58166. 

 

Houghton, Mary Donner.

 

1 letter (1860, Apr. 15) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58167. 

 

Jung, Fred H----.

 

1 letter (1918, Mar. 4) to C. W. Chapman. HM 58168. 

 

Lewis, Patty Reed, 1838 or 9-1923.

 

1 letter (1912, Mar. 6) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58169.

 

McGlashan, C. F. (Charles Fayette), 1847-1931.

 

3 letters (1911-1920) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58170-58172.

 

Murphy, William Green.

 

2 letters (1896) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58173-58174. 

 

Reed, Margret Wilson.

 

1 letter (1858, Apr. 5) to Mary Donner Houghton. HM 58175.

 

Tilden, Douglas, 1860-1935.

 

2 letters (1911) to C. W. Chapman. HM 58176-58177.

 

Wolfskill, Susan Cooper.

 

1 letter (1900, Feb. 2) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58178. 

 

Manuscripts & Ephemera

Box 3

A. C. McClurg & Co.

 

"A. C. McClurg & Co.'s Announcements: Fall 1911" (1911). Also: news clipping regarding publication of The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate. 2 items. HM 58179.

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Draft of The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate, [before 1911]. 2 items, they are not continuous or complete. HM 58180 (1) and (2).

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Notebook containing various anecdotes related to Donner Party and California history, [before 1911]. HM 58181. 

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Notebook re: Donner Party, [before 1911], typed transcripts of some of this material can be found in HM 58183. HM 58182. 

 

Houghton, Eliza Poor Donner.

 

Typed Transcript of Notebook [HM 58182] re: Donner Party, not complete [1990]. HM 58183. 

 

McCutchen Trace Association.

 

"McCutchen Trace Association Magazine, Volume 3- No. 2." (Nov. 1978). HM 58184.

 

Cartes-de-visite copy print of Eleanor Priscilla Eddy [before 1846]. HM 58185. 

 

Cartes-de-visite copy print of William Henry Eddy [before 1846]. HM 58186. 

 

Cartes-de-visite photograph of C. F. (Charles Fayette) McGlashan, 1847-1931 [1860]. HM 58187. 

 

Cartes-de-visite photograph of C. F. (Charles Fayette) McGlashan, 1847-1931 (1873). HM 58188. 

 

Cartes-de-visite copy print of Charles Tyler Stanton [before 1846?]. HM 58189.

 

Newspaper photo of William Green Murphy [before 1904]. HM 58190. 

 

Land Tracts

Box 4

Abstract of Title: Beaudry Tract #2, Los Angeles [c. 1890]. HM 58191. 

 

Abstract of Title: Main Street, Los Angeles [c. 1890]. HM 58192. 

 

Abstract of Title: Rancho Santa Anita [c. 1890]. HM 58193. 

 

Abstract of Title: Rancho Santa Anita [c. 1890]. HM 58194. 

 

Oversize Items

Oversize Oversize

Houghton, Sherman Otis.

 

Notarial Record (Sep. 1857-Jan. 1860). HM 58195. 

 

Scrapbook, Volume 1 - (1860-1920). HM 58196.

 

Scrapbook, Volume 2 - (1860-1920).

 

Contains letter (1896, March 23) from George W. Foote to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58197. 

Indexing: Subjects

 

Donner, George.

 

Subject in Tamsen Donner letter (1842, Apr. 3-May 14) to Elizabeth Eustis Poor. HM 58158. 

 

Donner, Jacob.

 

Subject in Francis "Frankie" Eustis Bond letter (1879, Mar. 30) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58131. 

 

Donner, Tamsen, 1801-1847.

 

Subject in Francis "Frankie" Eustis Bond letter (1894, Feb. 12) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58132. 

 

Donner, Tamsen, 1801-1847.

 

Subject in Ben F. Caldwell letter (1912, Jan. 3) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58137. 

 

Hastings, Lansford Warren, 1819-ca.1870.

 

Subject in Eliza Poor Donner Houghton essay "California Before the Argonauts" [1900]. HM 58112. 

 

Marshall, James Wilson, 1810-1885.

 

Subject in Eliza Poor Donner Houghton speech to the Van Nuys Woman's Club re: California history [before 1915]. HM 58125. 

 

Reed, James Frazier, 1800-1874.

 

Subject in Eliza Poor Donner Houghton letter (1912, Mar. 18) to Patty Reed Lewis, 1838 or 9-1923. HM 58163 and HM 58164. (original and copy). 

 

Reed, James Frazier, 1800-1874.

 

Subject in Patty Reed Lewis, 1800-1874 letter (1912, Mar. 6) to Eliza Poor Donner Houghton. HM 58169. 

 

Sutter, John Augustus, 1803-1880.

 

Subject in Eliza Poor Donner Houghton essay "California Before the Argonauts" [1900]. HM 58112. 

 

Sutter, John Augustus, 1803-1880.

 

Subject in Eliza Poor Donner Houghton speech to the Van Nuys Woman's Club re: California history [before 1915]. HM 58125. 

 

Sutter's Fort (Sacramento, Calif.).

 

Subject in Eliza Poor Donner Houghton essay "California Before the Argonauts" [1900]. HM 58112. 

 

Sutter's Fort (Sacramento, Calif.).

 

Subject in Eliza Poor Donner Houghton speech to the Van Nuys Woman's Club re: California history [before 1915]. HM 58125. 

 

Trudeau, John Baptiste, 1830-1910.

 

Subject in Eliza Poor Donner Houghton letter (1884, Nov. 11-12) to "My Children." HM 58166. 

Indexing: Name Added Entries

 

Houghton, Mary Donner.

 

Addressee of Margret Wilson Reed letter (1858, Apr. 5). HM 58175. 

 

Houghton, Sherman Otis.

 

Addressee of Jessie Benton Frémont letter ([1890], Oct. 23). HM 58160. 

 

Lewis, Patty Reed, 1838 or 9-1923.

 

Addressee of Eliza Poor Donner Houghton letter and copy (1912, Mar. 18). HM 58163 and HM 58164 (original and copy). 

 

McGlashan, C. F. (Charles Fayette), 1847-1931.

 

Addressee of Eliza Poor Donner Houghton letter (1920, July 13). HM 58165.