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Virginia Elizabeth Backenstoe Murphy
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Birth: Jun. 28, 1833
Sangamon County
Illinois, USA
Death: Feb. 14, 1921
Los Angeles County
California, USA

Donner Party Survivor, Businesswoman. Virginia Backenstoe Reed, as she was known, was 13 when her step-father James Frazier Reed and mother Margret Wilson Keyes left Springfield, Illinois as members of the ill-fated Donner Party. At Donner Lake, impressed with the Breen family, Virginia vowed that if God would spare her family's lives, she would become a Catholic. All the Reeds survived, and Virginia kept her promise. She was rescued with her mother and half-brother James Jr. by the First Relief on February 21, 1847. In May of 1847, Virginia wrote a first-hand account of the Donner Party in a letter that was published by the Illinois Journal in December of 1847 and in 1891 she wrote "Across the Plains in the Donner Party" for Century Magazine. Virginia was a noted equestrian who won prizes for horsemanship. She married John Murphy on January 26, 1850 in San Jose, California and they had nine children; Mary M., Lloyd M., Mattie H., John Marion Jr., Virginia B., Julia Ada, Daniel James, Annie Mabel, and Thaddeus Stanley. After he became ill, Virginia assisted him in his business and continued it after his death in 1892 becoming the first woman on the Pacific Coast to engage in the fire insurance business. Virginia Street in downtown San Jose is named after her. She was the daughter of Lloyd Carter Backenstoe.
Family links: 
  Margret Wilson Keyes Reed (1814 - 1861)
  John Marion Murphy (1824 - 1892)
  Mattie H. Murphy (1856 - 1857)*
  John Marion Murphy (1858 - 1895)*
  Daniel Reed Murphy (1859 - 1910)*
  Stanley Thaddeus Murphy (1874 - 1898)*
  Virginia Elizabeth Backenstoe Murphy (1833 - 1921)
  Martha Jane Reed Lewis (1838 - 1923)*
  James Frazier Reed (1841 - 1901)*
  Thomas Keyes Reed (1843 - 1915)*
  Charles Cadden Reed (1848 - 1927)*
  Willianoski Yount Reed (1850 - 1860)*
*Calculated relationship
Oak Hill Memorial Park
San Jose
Santa Clara County
California, USA
Created by: Debbie
Record added: May 12, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 10951646
Virginia Elizabeth <i>Backenstoe</i> Murphy
Added by: Allen Rountree
Virginia Elizabeth <i>Backenstoe</i> Murphy
Added by: Susan
Virginia Elizabeth <i>Backenstoe</i> Murphy
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Patti W.
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 Added: Oct. 13, 2015
God bless you!
- JD
 Added: Apr. 27, 2015

- Keil
 Added: Feb. 11, 2015
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