CHILD WAS TAUGHT TO KILL. ~ Eleven-Year-Old Mary Pratt Tells How She Was Schooled to Meet Such Emergency.

December 9, 1908

Eleven Year-Old Mary Pratt Tells
How She Was Schooled to Meet
Such Emergency.

If the traits of the mother, Della Pratt, made manifest when she was questioned by the prosecuting attorney, were remarkable, and those of her 12-year-old daughter Lena, who used a revolver in the battle, even more so, then nothing but the superlative remains to apply to the characteristics displayed by the little 11-year-old Mary Pratt whom the pointed, but kindly questions of Captain Walter Whitsett did not in the least disconcert.

It was this precocious little midget that made the address on hers and her band's constitutional rights to the 2,000 persons on the river bank from the houseboat while her mother was held at bay.

"I'm not on trial," she told Mayor Thomas T. Crittenden, Jr., when he attempted to ask her something in regard to the affairs of her band.

And her answers to questions, which came back instantly, were not in the least impudent, although it was plain to be seen that she had had nothing that would suggest a home training. She had all the jargon of her fanatical teachers at her tongue's end and could talk even more glibly of the "revelation of light" and "people" and "serpents" than the adults of the party. Once or twice she doubled up her little fist and emphasized her views on the lawful and unlawful. Yet it was all so naively done with no hint of pertness, that nothing short of the much-mannered "cute" could give any idea of her woman-child manners.

"We haven't anything against the policemen that tell us to move on when we are drawing such a crowd that the wagons and people can't go on," she said. "That's all right. But when they try to take our children away from us, it ain't right, and they are unlawful officers who would do such a thing."

Neither she nor her 12-year-old sister, Lena, can read or write. She was asked if she liked Adam, and she answered that she did, very much.

"Oh, yes," she said, "he keeps all of the money, but the rest of us can have whatever we want, if we just ask him. I saw papa keel over when he was shot today, and it made me feel awfully bad."

In spite of this last, both sisters laughed over the awful happenings of the day, yet it was not the hard mirth of heartlessness, but rather the mirth of heartfulness.

"Our houseboat is twenty-three feet long and six feet wide," went on little Mary, who was very well informed on the affairs of the band. "We would always take collections at the street meetings, and sometimes papa would work at cutting cordwood when he was not preaching.

Lena, who had part in the shooting, and may have been responsible for the death of Officer Dalbow, was taught by her father to shoot when they were wintering in Minnesota, according to her own statement. "He used to tell me that as soon as they began to shoot for me to shoot, too.

"Sometimes we'd call Adam and Eve pappy and mammy, as we were taught. Adam said that God revealed to him to get a gun and that if he ever let himself get arrested, God would forsake him."