Second and Third Relief
Parents: William Clark and Rachel Ward
b. August 10, 1816 in Petersham, Worcester Co., MA
m1. abt 1834; wife died in childbirth
A shoemaker by trade, Clark had already lived a life of adventure before he joined the second Donner relief party. (See his biographical sketch for more information.) The Second Relief appointed Clark to remain at Alder Creek to help Baptiste look after the Donners until they could be rescued. During his stay, Clark killed a bear cub weighing some seventy pounds, a welcome source of food.
After the great storm of early March, Clark visited the lake camp to see how the emigrants there had fared. He returned to Tamzene Donner with the news that her daughters were at the Murphy cabin (also inhabited by Levinah Murphy, her son Simon, and Louis Keseberg) and were “in danger of a death more violent than starvation.” When Eddy and Foster arrived with the Third Relief, Clark and Baptiste decided to leave with them. This desertion has been thoroughly condemned, but Tamzene Donner refused to go and her husband George, with his dangerously infected hand, could probably not have been rescued. Clark no doubt figured he had done as much as he could and that his own life would be in danger if he stayed. Charges that he robbed the Donners are less easy to account for.
Nicholas Clark became a noted pioneer in the Honey Lake area of Lassen County.
New Light on the Donner Party, Kristin Johnson
Ordeal By Hunger, George Stewart