Today is the anniversary of the Donner Party's departure from Springfield, Illinois, en-route to a new life in California. Nearly half of them perished along the way due to several factors including getting a late start, taking a "shortcut" that had never been tested by wagons, and a terrible snowstorm in the Sierra Nevada mountains hindering their ability to continue.
There is an excellent free space page for the Donner Party, here on WikiTree. Those of us with relatives and others who were among the first to arrive in California appreciate the hard work that went into this page. Thank you!