Guide to the Charles Fayette McGlashan Papers, 1847-1931

Processed by The Bancroft Library staff
The Bancroft Library.
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
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History --History, California --General History --History, California --History, Central Valley/Sierra

Guide to the Charles Fayette McGlashan Papers, 1847-1931

Collection number: BANC MSS C-B 570

The Bancroft Library

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Contact Information:

Processed by:
The Bancroft Library staff
Date Completed:
ca. 1965
Encoded by:
Charlotte Gerstein
© 1997 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Collection Title: Charles Fayette McGlashan Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1847-1931
Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 570
Creator: McGlashan, C. F. (Charles Fayette), 1847-1931
Extent: Number of containers: 3 boxes, 2 cartons, and 4 oversize folders
Repository: The Bancroft Library
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Abstract: Mainly material used in writing his book, History of the Donner Party, including letters from survivors and members of rescue parties and their relatives, newspaper clippings, photographs and relics. Included also: newspaper articles on the Mountain Meadows massacre and on the Truckee area, some family correspondence, and maps.
Languages Represented: English

Information for Researchers


Collection is open for research, except for the Donner Party relics previously contained in Carton I, access to which requires the permission of the Head of Public Services.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Charles Fayette McGlashan papers, BANC MSS C-B 570, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Material Cataloged Separately

  • Donner Party photographs (113 items) were removed to the Pictorial Collections. These include photographs of members of the Donner Party, rescue parties, and relatives (60 items); photographs of Donner Monument dedication ceremonies, other Donner campsite area markers, research activities and general views, rock ledge in Kansas upon which J. F. Reed and others carved their initials (53 items).
  • Identified portraits have been removed to the Portrait Collection.

Scope and Content

The papers, which relate mainly to McGlashan's work on the Donner tragedy, were given to The Bancroft Library by his grandson, Douglas McGlashan Kelley, in 1956 and by Mrs. Kelley in 1959. A Key to Arrangement follows.


Charles Fayette McGlashan was born in Wisconsin in 1847 and came overland with his father and sisters, arriving at Placerville in September 1854.
He attended Sotoyme Institute, Healdsburg, California, from 1861 to 1865 and Williston Seminary in Massachusetts, 1868-1870. From 1872, McGlashan lived in Truckee almost continuously. Until 1874 he was principal of the public schools, resigning in October to go to Utah as correspondent for the Sacramento Record. He wrote a series of articles on the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1657 and the arrest of John D. Lee, the accused leader of the Massacre. In 1875 he began the practice of law, in addition to becoming editor and then editor and owner of the Truckee Republican.
In 1878 a subscription to the Republican from a survivor of the Donner Party led to McGlashan's writing several articles on the subject. These resulted in correspondence and interviews with survivors, a series of articles in the Republican, and, in 1879, the publication of his book History of the Donner Party, A Tragedy of the Sierra. A revised and corrected second edition appeared in 1880 and has often been reprinted.
McGlashan was an active man with many and varied interests. In addition to his law practice and newspaper work, he was an amateur entomologist and astronomer, real estate developer, inventor, collector of Truckee area history and lore, and was actively involved in the financing and construction of the Donner Summit Memorials. He died at Truckee in 1931.

Key to Arrangement

Boxes I & II, folder 1-55

Letters written to Charles Fayette McGlashan by members of the Donner Party and rescue parties, 1878-1922. Arranged alphabetically (450 letters)

Box I, folder 1

App, Leanna Charity (Donner), 1834-1930


5 letters, 1879

folder 2-4

Babcock, Georgia Ann (Donner), 1841-1911


18 letters, 1879-1880

folder 5-10

Breen, James Frederick, 1842-1899


39 letters, 1878-1880

folder  11

Breen, John, 1832-1903


3 letters, 1879

folder  12

Breen, Simon Preston, 1839-1899


3 letters, 1879

folder  13

Clark, Nicholas, 1816-


3 letters, 1879-1880

folder  14-15

Clarke, Mary Ann (Graves), ca. 1826-


9 letters, 1879-1880

folder  16-18

Graves, William C., ca. 1828-


21 letters, 1879

folder  19-27 and bound volume in 28

Houghton, Eliza Poor (Donner), 1843-1922


135 letters, 1879-1921

Box II, folder  29-37 and bound volume in 38

Lewis, Martha Jane "Patty" (Reed), 1838-1923


93 letters, 1879-1922

folder 39

McCutchen, William, ca. 1816-


Letter, 1879

folder 40

McDonnell, Eleanor (Graves), 1831-


Letter, ca. 1879

folder  41

McMahon, Isabella M. (Breen), 1845-1935


Letter, 1879

folder  42-47 and bound volume in 48

Murphy, Virginia Elizabeth Backenstoe (Reed), ca. 1833-1921


94 letters, 1879-1914

folder  49

Murphy, William G., 1836-


2 letters, 1879

folder  50

Schenck, Naomi L. (Pike), 1843-1934


3 letters, 1879

folder  51-52

Tucker, George W., 1831-


8 letters, 1879

folder  53

Tucker, Reasin P., ca. 1806-


7 letters, 1879-1880

folder  54

Wilder, Frances Eustis (Donner), 1840-1921


3 letters, 1879

folder  55

Williamson, Nancy (Graves), ca. 1837-


Letter, 1879

Box III, folder 56-57

Letters written to C. F. McGlashan by relatives of the Donner Party and of the rescue parties, 1879-1928. Arranged alphabetically (30 letters)

folder  56

A - Q (14 letters)


Anderson, Nellie [Eleanor] P. (Eddy)


Letter, 1880


Bell, Harriet (McCutchen)


Letter, 1928


Bequette, Mrs. Paschal, Jr. (member of Graves family), 1854-


2 letters, 1879


Breen, Mrs. John


Letter, 1879


Donner, Margaret J. (Mrs. George Donner, Jr.)


Letter, 1880


Eddy, Alonzo H.


Letter, 1880


Green, Bessie B. (member of Graves family)


Letter, 1925


Houghton, Sherman Otis (husband of Eliza Poor Donner), 1828-1914


2 letters, 1879-1880


Houskens, Mrs. G. L. (member of Donner family)


Letter, 1906


Merritt, Almena (Stanton)


Letter, 1879


Murphy, Mrs. Daniel R. (member of Reed family)


Letter, 1915


Murphy, John M. (husband of Virginia E. B. Reed)


Letter, 1880

folder  57

R - Z (16 letters)


Reed, Frazier O.


2 letters, 1923-1924


Reed, Helen Ayer (Mrs. Frazier O.)


Letter, [ca. 1915]


Stanton, Sidney, 1809-


8 letters, 1879-1880


Taylor, O. C. (relative of Rhoads)


Letter fragment, n.d.


Wilder, Benjamin W. (husband of Elitha C. Donner)


3 letters, 1879


Wilder, Georgie E. O. (member of Donner family)


Letter, 1902, written to Eliza Poor (Donner) Houghton

folder  58-72

Letters written to C. F. McGlashan relating to the Donner Party and to his book, History of the Donner Party, a Tragedy of the Sierra, 1879-1929. These include replies to requests for information, letters about publication of the book, and letters written by readers. Arranged alphabetically (176 letters) with separate folders for the following:

folder  67

Bancroft, Hubert Howe, 1832-1918


Letter, 1880

folder  68

Brannan, Samuel, 1819-1889


2 letters, 1879

folder  69

Doten, Alf[red], 1829-1903


2 letters, 1879-1880

folder  70

Knowland, Joseph Russell, 1873-


6 letters, 1920-1929

folder  71

Stephens, William Dennison, 1859-1944


Letter, 1918

folder  72

Stoddard, Charles Warren, 1843-1909


2 letters, 1906

folder 73-75

Miscellaneous letters written to C. F. McGlashan about matters other than the Donner Party, 1880-1930. Arranged alphabetically (25 letters)

folder  73

A - L (8 letters)

folder  74

M (11 letters)

folder  75

N - Z (6 letters)

folder  76-77

Letters written by C. F. McGlashan, 1879-1930 (mainly copies). Arranged chronologically (23 letters)

folder  76

1879-1925 (11 letters)

folder  77

1926-1930 (12 letters)

folder 78-79

Letters written to members of the McGlashan family, 1923-1937. Arranged alphabetically by writer (27 letters)

folder 78

A - G (15 letters)

folder 79

H - Z (12 letters)

folder 80-81

Letters written by members of the McGlashan family, 1934-1946. Arranged chronologically (14 letters)

folder  80

1934 (6 letters)

folder  81

1935-1946 (8 letters)

folder  82

Miscellany, 1911-1946. Arranged chronologically (9 letters)

Carton I, folder 83-84

Newspaper articles concerning the Donner Party, 1871-1936. These include statements of survivors, information on survivors and their relatives, and obituaries. (36 items)

folder  84

Wells, Evelyn, "The Tragedy of Donner Lake." Statements of Martha Jane Reed Lewis (20 items).

folder  85-87

Newspaper articles concerning Donner Summit Memorials and research at the Donner campsite, 1891-1941 (30 items).

folder  86

Truckee Republican, 1893 (5 items)

folder  87

Grizzly Bear, 1918 (2 items)

folder  88

Newspaper articles concerning the Donner Party written by C. F. McGlashan, 1927 (3 items)

folder  89

Miscellaneous newspaper articles concerning the Donner Party, 1922-1950 (10 items)

folder  90-92

Newspaper articles concerning C. F. McGlashan, his activities other than those relating to the Donner Party, and obituaries, 1893-1934 (38 items)

folder  91

Obituaries, 1931 (19 items)

folder  92

Resolutions adopted on death of C. F McGlashan, 1931 (4 items)

folder  93

Newspaper articles written by C. F. McGlashan about matters other than the Donner Party, 1884-1895 (33 items).

Scope and Content Note

Include statements of Truckee residents about the Rocking Stone.
folder  94-95

Miscellaneous newspapers and articles, 1871-1930 (23 items)

folder  95

Truckee Republican, 1892-1893 (8 items)

folder  96-105

Manuscript material used by C. F. McGlashan to write his book, History of the Donner Party. These include copies of statements, letters, and diaries written by members of the Donner Party and rescue parties, as follows (26 items):

folder  96

Breen, Patrick, 1805-1868


Diary, 1846-1847

folder  97

Donner, Mrs. George, 1801-1847


2 letters to a friend, published in Springfield Journal, 1846

folder 98

Graves, William C., ca. 1828-


Crossing the Plains in 1846, [1877]

folder  99

Houghton, Eliza Poor (Donner), 1843-1922


Biographical data, ca. 1879


Murphy, Virginia Elizabeth Backenstoe (Reed), ca. 1833-1921

folder 100

Account of journey to Donner Lake, n.d.

folder 101

Letter to her cousin, 1847 (2 versions)

See also BANC MSS 89/127 c

folder  102

Reed, James Frazier, Jr., 1841-


Statement of Reed-Snyder affair, 1879

folder 103

Notes by Eliza P. (Donner) Houghton and by Lewis Keseberg, 1879 (1 vol.)

folder  104

Notes, letters, newspaper articles, and misc. information (1 vol.)

folder  105

Miscellany (15 items)

folder 106-107 and relics in 2 small boxes

Donner Party Miscellany (35 items)

Scope and Content Note

This includes an inscribed copy (and also author's working copy) of History of the Donner Party; pamphlet on the location of the Breen cabin site; diary of Patrick Breen published by Academy of Pacific Coast history; activities of the Donner Monument Committee; poems, speeches, and relics of the Donner Party as follows. (These artifacts are boxed separately. Permission of the Head of Public Services is required for access. Photographs of the artifacts are on file in the carton.)

10 sealed vials containing portions of the foundation log of the Murphy cabin, with tags inscribed by Virginia E. B. (Reed) Murphy


fish hook


metal button


rusted screw


chinaware fragment


stone fragment


heavy oval object with black crocheted cover and black and brown string


baby's tooth in sealed vial found in log of Murphy's cabin, 1894


French dollar, in watch case, part of the money buried near Donner Lake by Mrs. Graves.

folder 108-109

Photographs of C. F. McClashan, his home, and several unidentified photographs (25 items)

Carton II, folder  113

Commonplace book of C. F. McGlashan, 1865-1867

Scope and Content Note

Includes compositions, copies of poems and articles, and copies of letters from his sister Ann (1 vol.)
folder 114

Scrapbook of C. F. McGlashan, 1874-1890

Scope and Content Note

Contains mainly newspaper clippings of Truckee events and people, and miscellaneous poems and articles (1 vol.)
folder 115

Scrapbook of C. F. McGlashan, 1874-1876

Scope and Content Note

Contains newspaper articles written by McClashan including his account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre trial, and articles about McGlashan and other Truckee area people and events (1 vol.)
folder 116-123

Legal papers of C. F. McGlashan and family, 1887-1934

Scope and Content Note

Includes abstracts of titles, deeds, indentures, and miscellaneous papers. (10 items and 7 bound volumes)
folder 124

Patents granted to C. F. McGlashan 1874-1930 (23 items)

folder 125


Scope and Content Note

Includes receipts, programs, Knights of Pythias and Shrine membership items (40 items)
portfolio Oversize portfolio

Includes maps of Truckee, the McGlashan Addition, Donner Camp, Emigrant Trail, and state proclamation of thanks to Native Sons for gift of Donner Monument. (25 items)