Matching family tree profiles for Catherine Pike, Donner Party
About Catherine Pike, Donner Party
Daughter of William M. Pike and Harriet Frances Murphy Age:  Perished.
Catherine Pike was evidently named after her father’s sister, who had died in 1843 at the age of 22. Catherine’s exact age is unknown; her sister Naomi Pike Schenck wrote Kansas historian John Ellenbecker that Catherine was only "nine months old," but was that Catherine’s age when she died or when the family left Missouri for California? In mid-December Harriet Pike left her two small daughters behind in a desperate attempt to seek assistance:
Dear Mrs. Murphy had the most sacred and pitiful charge. It was the wee nursing babe, Catherine Pike, whose mother had gone with the "Forlorn Hope," to try, if possible, to procure relief. All there was to give the tiny sufferer, was a little gruel made from snow water, containing a slight sprinkling of coarse flour. This flour was simply ground wheat, unbolted. Day after day the sweet little darling would lie helplessly upon its grandmother’s lap, and seem with its large, sad eyes to be pleading for nourishment. Mrs. Murphy carefully kept the little handful of flour concealed--there was only a handful at the very beginning--lest some of the starving children might get possession of the treasure. Each day she gave Catherine a few teaspoonfuls of the gruel. Strangely enough, this poor little martyr did not often cry with hunger, but with tremulous, quivering mouth, and a low, subdued sob or moan, would appear to be begging for something to eat. The poor, dumb lips, if gifted with speech, could not have uttered a prayer half so eloquent, so touching. Could the mother, Mrs. Pike, have been present, it would have broken her heart to see her patient babe dying slowly, little by little. Starvation had dried the maternal breasts long before Mrs. Pike went away, so that no one can censure her for leaving her baby. She could only have done as Mrs. Murphy did, give it the plain, coarse gruel, and watch it die, day by day, upon her lap.
On February 22, 1847, Patrick Breen recorded, "I burried pikes child this moring in the snow it died 2 days ago."