The Miracle of the Reed Family in the Donner Party Tragedy

Most of us are familiar with the Donner/Reed expedition to California by a small group of pioneers in 1847. After many delays, the group was caught in a snowstorm just shy of the peak of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The snow was relentless, and the snow was soon so deep, there was little hope of continuing the journey for some time.

They built shanties for protection. They began killing their livestock for food. It was a desperate situation, and before the first group of rescuers arrived in February of 1848, the lack of food had driven many to cannibalism of those that had died.

James and Margaret Reed

James Reed had been expelled from the wagon train prior to the great snowstorms. His wife, Margaret, and their four small children suffered through that terrible winter. Margaret showed such incredible strength and courage in the face of dire circumstances. Her Christian faith motivated her to a rock solid determination that neither she or her children would eat human flash, no matter the cost.

The hunger they suffered was beyond description, but that decision was made and kept. That decision, based upon a moral compass few have, did not go unnoticed by the God of all. Only the family of Ulster-born James Reed came through without losing a family member and without ever succumbing to cannibalism.

The Reed family lived their Christianity in a way few ever have, to their very extremities, while resisting the path chosen by the rest. The Lord blessed them in a remarkable way, by preserving every member in their family. It is truly a miracle from heaven that deserves to be known.

Thank God we have all got through and the only family that did not eat human flesh,’ 13-year-old Virginia Reed wrote to a cousin back in Illinois.