WEEPS WHEN CHILDREN LEAVE. ~ Mrs. Della Pratt Declares That She Is Not Inhuman -- Wards of Juvenile Court.

December 12, 1908

Mrs. Della Pratt Declares That She
Is Not Inhuman -- Wards of
Juvenile Court.

With all their peculiarities, their odd beliefs, seeming to make them so unlike other people, the Pratt family became intensely human yesterday afternoon when the hour came for mother and children to part -- perhaps forever.

The parting came about 8 o'clock yesterday afternoon. Mrs. Pratt was in the matron's room, surrounded by her remaining flock, Lena, 12; Mary, 11; Dewey, 8, and Edna, 4 years old. She was talking of the future for her little ones, who were playing about the matron's room. She had just finished speaking of the riot of Tuesday, which she said she heartily condemned.

"I want to send my children to school now," she said. "I want them to have an education and be like other people."

"I want to start tomorrow," spoke up little Mary, the brightest one of the lot. "Della, can't I begin tomorrow? I want to learn to read and write." Mrs. Pratt's children all call her by her first name, Della.

"I want to learn, too," interposed Dewey.

"Me too," spoke up Edna, the baby, Lena, the one who took a leading hand in the riot, said nothing. She was leaning with her elbows on the window sill looking wistfully into the street.


"I wish you could all start right now and me with you," said Mrs. Pratt. "If I had had an education I never would have been a follower of a man with such an insane belief."

Just as she finished speaking Captain Walter Whitsett entered the room, followed by George M. Holt, the probation officer over whom the trouble of Tuesday started.

"Come on children," said the captain, "I am going to take you down stairs."

The children started out of the room, when the captain added, "Get your wraps."

"Why take their wraps?" spoke up Mrs. Pratt, a pained expression on her face. The captain said something about "just taking them downstairs" but the mother, who appears to have a great deal of love for her children, seemed to realize that the hour of separation had come. Her eyes were still suffused with tears as she had been softly weeping ever since she looked upon the face of her dead child, Lulu, at the undertaker's only a few hours previous. Tears started afresh as she gathered her little flock about her.

"Don't take them away from me. Don't do that," she pleaded. "I prayed all night this would not happen, yet something told me it would. I have had all the grief I can bear, it seemed, but this is even greater than the rest.

"What h as happened may cause people to think that I am inhuman, that I am not like the rest. But I am. I love these children; they are all I have now and you are going to take them from me. Let me go with them, even be near them where I can hear the sounds of their voices. Let me do that, please do."


Little Dewey was the first to shed tears as he clung tightly to his mother's skirts. Edna wept because he did, and Mary, her face wet with tears, said comfortingly, "We are just going downstairs, Della; we'll all be back. The man said so."

"Good care, the best of care, will be taken of them," said the captain as eh drew the children gently from the mother's grasp and started out of the room. Once more the frail little woman interposed. "Let me kiss them," she wailed. "I know this is the last I will see of them on earth." She kissed them passionately, one by one. Lena, the oldest, was mute, but choked back a sob as she left her mother's arms.

"We'll all be good, Della," called back Mary, "awfully good, and then maybe we'll all go to school and you can be with us -- if we are good."

The little ones were walked to the detention home, a large crowd following. Until they were landed there Mary, who always acts as spokesman, believed that they were to be taken back to their mother.

"Let me go back with you and tell Della that we are all right over here in a big house," she begged. "I think I ought to do it. She will worry so if she don't know where we are." Her request was not granted.

The children will be disposed of later by the juvenile court.