I'm guilty of giving out an inadvertent red herring:

"One of the packers was descended from Donner Party survivors"

...was not a clue. At all, at all.

Just telling a little story. But the ballad was great.

Retry the Google search with xxxxxx xxxxxx instead of Donner Party.
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Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII