Born: 1790-XX-XX Rowan County, North Carolina
Died: 1846-12-20 California
Flourished: 1831-03-11 Sangamon County, Illinois
As a young man, Donner emigrated from North Carolina to Jessamine County, Kentucky with his family. He later moved to Indiana and finally settled in Sangamon County, Illinois, in 1828. He married Elizabeth Hook, who had two children from a previous marriage. Together, they had five more children. Jacob Donner was a leader of the ill-fated Donner Party, which departed from Springfield, Illinois for California in 1846. He may have been the first member of the group to die, while the family was encamped near Truckee Lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
John Carroll Power and S. A. Power, History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois (Springfield, IL: Edwin A. Wilson, 1876), 260, 608; Ethan Rarick, Desperate Passage: The Donner Party's Perilous Journey West (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 8, 144, 171.