Charles L. Cady was born in Buffalo, New York, on 19 Sept 1824. James F. Reed refers to Cady, Nicholas Clark, and Charles Stone as “the boys”– young, active men who arrived at the camps 24 hours before the other members of the relief.
When Reed left the camps, three of his men were detailed to stay and tend the few emigrants left in the mountains until the next relief arrived. Cady and Nicholas Clark were with the Donners at Alder Creek, Charles Stone at the lake camp. While Clark was out hunting, Stone visited Alder Creek and spoke with Cady. When the men decided to quit the mountains, Tamzene Donner saw a chance to save her three little girls. The men agreed to rescue them, but only took them as far as the Murphy cabin. They themselves probably sheltered in the abandoned Breen cabin during the violent snowstorm that beset Reed’s party in Summit Valley. When the weather cleared the two men lit out, leaving behind the children they had promised to rescue. By the time they caught up with Reed, Cady’s feet were frostbitten; he lost several toes.
After the Donner disaster, Cady established a courier service to deliver mail between San Francisco and Sutter’s Fort via Sonoma and Sausalito, and in 1848-49 kept a store in Coloma in partnership with John Shannon. In the spring of 1879 Cady was in the Calistoga area and visited W. C. Graves, who sent information from Cady to historian C. F. McGlashan.
New Light on the Donner Party, Kristin Johnson
Ordeal By Hunger, George Stewart