There was an obscure reference in the Skagway Death records to a child “Preigmore” who died in April 1898. After much research and reading of old newspaper articles and censuses I was able to piece together the story of the Prigmore family. First I will quote the San Francisco Call of August 23, 1897. It refers to Duke Prigmore who made more than one trip from Washington to Skagway on the family’s quest for gold.
“Many Outfits Lost: Bad Condition of the White Pass Trail from Skaguay where Gold Seekers are Struggling
SEATTLE, WASH Aug 22. Possibly the best description of the White Pass Trail from Skaguay is given in a letter from Duke Prigmore received in this city yesterday. It was brought down by the steamer Starr. After leaving camp on Saturday, Mr. Prigmore says, ‘The first three miles is a fairly good wagon road, which leads to the Skaguay river, a rather shallow but very swift stream. There the miners have erected an improvised bridge, over which only one horse can be taken at a time. Beyond the bridge for three miles horses and wagons can be used. Devil’s Hill is then reached. The trail is not over two feet wide here, while the climb is at an angle of 45 degrees. At the summit of the hill horses are compelled to make a jump of nearly two feet high only to alight on a slippery rock. Further on the trail is a steep incline, on which logs have been laid forming a kind of ladder.
After crossing the first hill a half mile of fairly good traveling is encountered when the big hill is reached. The path over this hill can scarcely be called a trail as Mr. Prigmore says it is quite narrow and at places is almost impassable for horses. The formation is of a soft and slippery slate rock. The trail winds crookedly around the hill or rather mountain while below it sheers off 500 feet to the river. At this locality many horses and packs have been lost. It is almost impossible for horses to pack any considerable amount of supplies around this bluff. After traveling several miles of this kind of road the big marsh is reached.
Here the packers become frightened as a horse will either flounder and roll in the mud until he gives up from sheer exhaustion, or else loses the pack and breaks a leg. This bog is one and a half miles long, and many of the miners are here camped waiting for the winter freeze so they can get over it.
A party ahead on the marsh told Mr. Prigmore that very few had passed them and they were making but slight progress, which fact leads him to believe that scarcely ten parties have thus far this summer crossed the Summit by way of Skaguay.”
Well, Duke came south and got more horses to pack over the pass and in the winter of 1898 his father, Isaiah Daniel Prigmore, and Duke’s younger brother, Leroy, came along. It must have been on this trip that young Leroy succumbed to pneumonia and died in Skagway on April 2, 1898. Isaiah took his body back to Washington and buried him in Bayview Cemetery in Bellingham. Isaiah and his wife Francis were also buried there in 1926 and 1935. Although I could not find an age for Leroy, or “Roy” as his headstone says, he must have only been about 9. Duke was 22 when he started this adventure, but he too died (of typhoid) in 1903 back in Ellensburg Washington at the age of 28. In all Isaiah and Francis had 8 children, the rest of whom remained in Washington and had families.
Seen above is the lovely Bayview Cemetery in Bellingham, Washington.
Bayview Cemetery online; various news accounts, family rootsweb info; Skagway Death record.