In 1846, a wagon train left Illinois, on the trail to California and Oregon. It was to be a disastrous journey, doomed by in-fighting, delays and one catastrophically poor decision to follow an untested ‘short cut’, ‘the Hastings Cut Off’. Within 100 miles of their destination, the Donner-Reed Party was trapped in deep snow in the Sierras. As food, and firewood ran out, in desperation, some (not all) of the settlers resorted to cannibalism.
An eight year old girl, Patty Reed, hid her last remaining toy in the pocket of her clothing. And therein lies our tale.
Hear me go on about the Donner-Reed Party and its surviving textiles, in the Interweave podcast here:
Also, stay tuned this week for exciting news about my new book ‘Their Darkest Materials’.
[RIGHT: Handwoven, woollen tape].