Remembering Prince Alexander of Castle Gate
He died along with 171 other miners in the Castle Gate Mine Disaster.
Today you can find his grave on the east side of the Castle Gate Cemetery near the fence. It's a simple granite marker bearing the only words "Prince Alexander, Mar. 8, 1924."
History has lost his real name, but it is reasonably certain that he was not of royal blood. "Prince" was the nickname the community tagged him with because of his apparent education and impeccable manners.
These qualities and one other quality we'll get to later made him the butt of jokes around town.
The joking stopped in 1919 when the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic reached Castle Gate. The disease killed more people worldwide than the savagery of the world war that had just ended.
There was a shortage of nurses in the mining camp, so Prince Alexander volunteered to help the many victims. He cleaned houses, delivered water, coal and firewood.
"Night and day, without thought for himself, he spent his strength nursing the sick who would otherwise have been without help. After that episode the Prince's courtesy was no longer the subject for joking in Castle Gate," wrote Betty Jo Hartley in her brief story of the man.
She wrote that she was a granddaughter of two of the victims and was convinced that she and other descendants of the mining families are here today because of Prince Alexander's efforts.
His life ended along with those of the Greeks, Italians, English, Welsh, Austrians, Japanese and Scotsmen in the explosion. The names of the victims buried in the cemetery are listed on a memorial plaque near the entrance.
Prince Alexander's name is on the list, a singular honor for the man granted by the mining community in recognition of his service.
It was an honor because Prince Alexander did not belong to any of the nationalities listed above.
The prince was Black.