I am SO glad to see this Board!
One family story that I have been trying to track down for years says that our Murphey/Murphy relatives, from the southern tip of WV, were related to the ones that were in the Donner Party. If I can ever find my great-great-grandmother's parents, then maybe I can prove it.
My Dad remembers seeing a business card from one of them that had gone into Real Estate in Marysville, CA., which is supposed to be named for Mary Murphy, one of the DP survivors.
I have collected several articles about that dreadful winter and will post them when I can, probably won't be before Christmas though...
I grew up in the Foothills of those awesome mountains, and my Dad was sent up to Donner Pass many times to work on the snow plows that kept the Pass open for the SP Railroad. It was a battle, even with modern equipment. I can only imagine what it was like 160 years ago!