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Margaret J. Watson Donner
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Birth: 1845
Death: 1911

Margaret J. Watson was born in March of 1845 in Missouri. Her mother was probably Mary Watson, born 1810-1815 in Tennessee. Her father, according to several Census' was born in Pennsylvania. Margaret also appears to have had at least one sibling, Caroline, born about 1847 in Missouri. Margaret appears to have lived with Mary Watson and Caroline in San Jose, Santa Clara County, California in 1860.

On 8 June 1862, George Jacob Donner, Donner Party survivor, married Margaret J. Watson in San Jose, California. Eight children were born to their union.

The 1870 Census, Fremont, Santa Clara County, California shows the family, including Mary Watson, born about 1810 in Tennessee.

The family settled in Analy in about 1873, which was the area of present day Sebastopol, Sonoma County, California. They particularly lived in the Spring Hill district.

There is conflicting information concerning the date of death for Margaret's husband, George Donner. Research is ongoing.

It is believed that Margaret's husband George may have suffered from tuberculosis.

George Donner, Donner Party Survivor by Researcher Kristin Johnson--

"Sharing the same name as his grandfather and uncle, this George Donner is often referred to as "George Donner, Jr." to distinguish him from his father's brother. Unfortunately, the use of "junior" creates even more confusion-- Captain George Donner was also a junior, having been named after his own father. Photographs captioned "Captain George Donner" are almost always of this nephew.
After the disaster, George Donner was brought to San Francisco. Hotelier John Henry Brown gave him his board and "Lawyer [Lansford W.] Hastings (the Path Finder) gave him his clothes. The boy had many small presents given him in money, which he saved." James F. Reed was appointed George's guardian.
Money from their father's estate was used to purchase lots in San Francisco for George and Mary Donner, but a complicated legal battle ensued that went on for years. George was able to sell his interest in the property at a profit. See McGlashan, History of the Donner Party, 253-257.
"Young George" was the only Donner Party survivor to bear the Donner name very long; the other surviving Donners, his sister and cousins, were all girls who married and changed theirs. He rarely spoke of the disaster.
George lived in Santa Clara County during much of his early adulthood and made his living as a farmer. In 1866 he bought some land in Solano County from his half-brother Solomon Hook, but later settled near Sebastopol in Sonoma County, where some of his descendants still live. . . . .(After death). . . He (George) was brought to San Jose and interred at Oak Hill Memorial Park next to his son Albert, who had died in San Jose in 1869. After 130 years of lying in an unmarked grave, George finally got a handsome new monument sponsored by the Native Sons of the Golden West and E Clampus Vitus, which was dedicated on August 15, 2004."


The 8 children of Margaret J. Watson and her husband, George Donner.

Mary Emma Donner
1863 1922
Albert L Donner
1866 1870
Cora Gertrude Donner
1867 1939
George Jacob Donner Jr
1868 1943
John Carter Donner
1869 1959
Betty L Donner
1870 1922
Frank Ragle Donner
1873 1934
Infant Donner
1875 1875

Margaret died in 1911 and is buried near some of her children in Sebastopol Cemetery.


Questions concerning the death date of Margaret's husband, George Donner.

The following 1876 local history volume states that George died in February of 1875. (History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois: "Centennial Record" John Carroll Power, Sarah A. Harris Power Edwin A. Wilson & Company, 1876 Illinois - 797 pages)

Margaret is listed as a widow in the 1880 Federal Census, Analy, Sonoma County, California.

The 2004 grave monument in Oak Hill Memorial Park, San Jose, lists a death date of Feb 1874.

However, George appears to be listed as alive and living with his family in the 1900 Federal Census, Analy, Sonoma County, California.

Family links: 
  George Donner (1836 - 1874)
  Mary Emma Donner Ungewitter (1862 - 1922)*
  Frank R. Donner (1873 - 1934)*
*Calculated relationship
Sebastopol Memorial Lawn Cemetery
Sonoma County
California, USA
Created by: Cashie
Record added: Sep 25, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 97759401
Margaret J. <i>Watson</i> Donner
Added by: Cashie
Margaret J. <i>Watson</i> Donner
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Diane N. Ennis
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.

- Cashie
 Added: Jul. 21, 2013

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