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December 9, 1908


Police Attempted to Sink Skiff in
Which Mrs. Pratt and Chil-
dren Were Escaping.

Information that men and women who had participated in the shooting had escaped and were making their way to a houseboat they had moored in the river was given to the police. Chief of Police Daniel Ahern ordered Captain Walter Whitsett, Lieutenant Al Ryan and Inspector of Detectives Charles Ryan to go to the river with thirty detectives and patrolmen.

When the officers arrived at the river bank, foot of Delaware street, they found one woman, two girls and a boy guarding the boat. Inspector Charles Ryan acted as the spokesman for the police and, climbing down the sand embankment, approached the gang plank. He was stopped by the woman, Mrs. Della Pratt, who threatened to shoot. The woman stood at the head of the scow gesticulating with her left hand as she warned the officers not to come any nearer, while she kept her right hand on a rifle hidden behind the canvas flap of the boat covering. Lining the top of the bank for a block in each direction, people stood watching the police trying to induce the woman way from the boat. She refused to allow anyone to approach the boat nearer than the end of the gang plank.

When ordered to come out on the bank she said she would give herself up if the police would bring Mrs. Melissa Sharp to the river and allow her to talk to her. The police refused to grant her request. Then she asked them to have James Sharp, whom she called "Adam," brought to the house boat.


For forty-five minutes the police argued with the woman and pleaded with her to surrender, but she stubbornly refused. Her two daughters, Lula, 14, and Mary, 11, joined the tirade against the police. While the officers did not want to shoot the woman and two girls, they were afraid to make a run for the boat, as it was believed that some of the men might be in it.

Finally a woman allowed William Engnell, a 15-year-old boy, to leave the boat and the police officials urged him to try to influence the woman to give up. He returned to the boat, but he did not have any success and again left the boat and was placed under arrest.

Untying a skiff which was alongside of the small houseboat, the woman ordered the two girls into it, and taking several revolvers and a rifle, the woman entered it and shoved off toward midstream. As the skiff, which had a canopy over it in the bow, floated out into the current, loud cheers rent the air from many of the persons in the crowd who sympathized with the woman and her kind.


Mayor Thomas T. Crittenden, Jr., and Police Commissioner Andrew E. Gallagher were spectators along the river bank, and had ordered the police not to shoot the woman and children. But it was seen that the woman and children would soon be out of reach, Mayor Crittenden gave the police permission to attempt to shoot holes in the boat in an attempt to endeavor to compel the woman to put back to shore.

Immediately upon receiving the order, Lieutenant Harry E. Stege, armed with a riot gun, shot at the boat and his fire was at once returned by the woman, who used a Winchester. As the bullets from the skiff were aimed at the crowd and were heard to sing as they passed overhead, the crowd wavered and finally broke and ran. The police fired volley after volley at the skiff, but could not tell whether the bullets were having any effect. After using all of the ammunition in the boat, the woman sat down and the girls got under the canopy.

Previously, and during the shooting, the three had been standing up in the boat, singing and waving their arms. It was seen that the boat had passed behind the range of the police guns and a new form of attack had to be planned. Mayor Crittenden ordered several patrolmen to enter a skiff and follow the fanatical woman and her children. He ordered them to stay out of rifle range but to keep them in view and arrest them at the first opportunity.


But as the crowd of police officers and followers ran east along the river bank they came to the Ella May, a ferry boat, and impressed it into service. The captain of the boat was ordered to follow the floating skiff and near the piers of the old Whiner bridge the Ella May drew alongside of the skiff and its occupants. Inspector Ryan and Captain Whitsett asked them to take the woman out of the water.

The water became so shallow that the ferry boat had to back up, and it was then steered to the regular Harlem landing and the police ran up to where McCoy was standing on the bank with Mrs. Pratt and her daughter, Mary.

The woman informed the officers that her other daughter, Lula, 14 years old, had been shot in the cheek and was in the boat. The little girl's dead body was huddled in the bow of the skiff. It was placed on some bedding found in the skiff and two patromen rowed it back to the foot of Main street, where an ambulance was waiting. The woman and living child were put on the ferry boat and brought to police headquarters. The dead child's body was sent to Wagner's morgue.


With her clothes wringing wet from dropping into the water as she attempted to get out of the boat after her mother said they would surrender, Mary Pratt, 11 years old, stood shivering on the sand bank near Harlem. An officer shed his coat and wrapped it around her. Pity was expressed by every police officer for the girl, but none was shown for the woman who was led to the boat with her wet clothes clinging to her body.

They were placed in the engine room while the ferry boat crossed the river, and then taken to the station in the police ambulance. While crossing the river Mary, who is a sweet-faced intelligent little girl, told about the shooting.

"Our faith you know teaches us that we have the right to kill police who interfere with us. We were strangers and did not know we had to have a permit to sing in the street. When the officer came out there and told us to get off the street, then we believed that they were not peaceful and we had a right to shoot them."

"Does your religion teach you that it is right to kill people?" was asked. "No, you be just and understand my position," Mary said. "We are a peace-loving people and believe that this country is free and we have a right to preach on the streets. If the police try to stop us our religion teaches us to believe that they are wrong and should be killed."

"Did you all have guns with you up town, Mary?" was asked by Lieutenant Al Ryan.

"Yes, we all had guns except Dewey and Edna. Papa had given them to us and we always carried them when we went up town to preach," she said. As she told her story she smiled every little while, and the fact that her sister had been killed did not seem to trouble her.

She told the police that the tribe of religious fanatics had drifted down the Missouri river from North Dakota, where they had spent the summer. Two boys named William and Alexander Engnell joined the clan at Two Rivers, S. D. The boys lived at Pelan, Minn. Alexander fell from the faith, Mary said, and left the band before they reached Iowa. William is still with the people and was arrested at the houseboat.

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June 21, 1908





Sudden Demise Reveals Fact That
He Had Saved $15,000 -- His
Boat's Cabin Finished
in Mahogany.

Although N. N. Pushkareff, a Russian, up until his death a few weeks ago is in the vicinity of his little houseboat near Harlem, was always considered among his associates a man of little means, it has developed that the man had a balance of $15,000 to his credit in a local bank and possessed considerable property in various sections of the city.

After his death his body was encased in a casket priced by the undertaker at $700 and placed in a vault pending the arrival of his family at present en route from their home to this country, none of the members of which is aware of the husband and father's death.

Pushkareff, when a comparatively young man, left his home in Russia to seek his fortune in this country, declaring at the time that he would not return nor send for his family until he had accumulated $25,000.

Arriving in America, accompanied by his eldest son, whom he had brought with him, the two launched in the caviare business in the East. Later they came to this section and several years ago located permanently in this city. Since then Pushkareff prospered and saved the money beyond the knowledge of his son.

Several weeks ago, although he had not realized his ambition in accumulating $25,000, he determined to send to the old country where his wife and children patiently waited him and ask them to come. The family immediately began preparations for the journey. Since then the husband and father died from heart failure, his body being found in his characteristic garb, rags, with a short distance of the little houseboat on the north side of the river.

Upon the coroner's investigation into the man's death considerable money was found on his clothing and in the little houseboat, the interior of which was furnished wholly in mahogany and ebony furniture, and at the bidding of friends the body was placed in one of the most expensive caskets in the city, and later stored in a vault to await the arrival of the wife with instructions as to its disposition. It is probable the body will be shipped to Russia.

Pushkareff, although few knew it, was a member of several of the more important fraternities in the city. He is said to have been an ardent Elk and spent much of his time at the Elks' Club, although there were none who knew him there as Pushkareff the Caviare man. At times he is said to have spent much money.

After his death the little houseboat, which was anchored to the river bottoms, narrowly escaped becoming swamped when the flood came, and had it not been for Dr. Elliott Smith of this city, it undoubtedly would have gone to the bottom. Dr. Smith rescued the craft and took it to the Blue river, where it is now moored.

The boat, although small, is said to be a marvel of beauty within and represents a lavish expenditure of money. Finished in mahogany and ebony, the interior is otherwise decorated in a costly yet peculiar manner. During the owner's life no one was known to have entered the boat save himself. The doors were always locked, and the man would not permit anybody approaching, much less examining it. Nothing within the little craft has been molested and neither will it be until after the arrival of the family of the deceased.

Pushkareff's son did not live on the houseboat with him, but boarded in the city, where he attended school.

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June 12, 1908


Mounted Men Guard Flooded Whole-
sale District -- Peril of the
East Bottoms.

Chief of Police Daniel Ahern and Captain Walter Whitsett yesterday afternoon drove through the flooded East and West bottoms. Complaint had been made that sightseers and others had been breaking into unprotected houses and stealing.

Last night mounted men were stationed all over the West bottoms with orders to patrol the flooded district carefully. If the water goes any higher police will be placed in launches to patrol. Now an officer on horseback can reach the most important part of the wholesale district.

It was also reported to the police that in the trees near Harlem many dead cattle, horses and hogs have become lodged. The citizens in that vicinity fear the result if the animals are left there after the flood goes down. Today police in motor boats will be sent over the river to dislodge any dead stock and see that it gets into the current.

Near the Kelly mills in the East bottoms twenty-five or thirty men are at work night and day watching to see that the water does not break through the dike formed by the embankment of the Kansas City Southern railway.

"That is really the key to the East bottoms," Captain Whitsett said. "If the water once gets through there it means lots more trouble, especially for truck gardens, Currents would be quickly formed and all of that loose rich soil would go down the river as it did in 1903."

Wednesday night and last night fifteen or twenty families, by special permission, slept on the hillsides below North Terrace park. In the day the people go down and watch their property.

William Mensing, 10 East Fourth street, called at police headquarters last night and offered five or six furnished rooms for the benefit of the flood sufferers. In 1903 Mensing had a rooming house at Fourth and Main streets. While his rooms could have been rented at good prices, Mensing gave up a dozen or more to poor families and even took two families into his home.

"These rooms I have are not for men who can hustle for themselves," he said last night. "As before, I prefer to let women and children occupy them."

Mayor Thomas T. Crittenden, Jr., chairman of the police board, informed the department yesterday that tents could be secured at the Third regiment. They are to be used for poor and needy families if the worst comes.

Today two gasoline launches will be placed in commission for use of the police. They will be expected to patrol the river below the Hannibal bridge and render aid to people on both sides of the river if the emergency calls for it.

The crowd on the Intercity viaduct last night -- most of the people were sightseers -- was so great that Captain Whitsett stationed four men under Sergeant Robert Greely at the entrance. Their business was to be on the lookout for crooks and to keep the people moving. Three patrolmen were placed at the Mulberry street pay station to keep order and see that no one used the "center rush" method to get through the crowd without paying.

Last night several police were patrolling the river bank from the foot of Grand avenue east. It had been reported that thieves had been breaking into wholesale houses through windows, loading their boats and landing further down the river

The police were asked last night to be on the lookout for Antonio Travesse, 6 years old, an Italian boy living at 410 Holmes street. His father, Carlos, greatly excited, reported the missing boy. He said that when last seen his baby was going toward the river.

Harlem could not be reached by telephone last night. In the afternoon it was said that the water there had flooded the only remaining stores. Last night's report from there was that the river was getting lower, and that most of the wise citizens over there, who had passed through the terrible 1903 flood, will save all of their household goods and stocks of merchandise. Some were moved to this city and some of the stocks are still there, very high up with the counters and shelves nailed down.

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June 10, 1908


Missouri River Backed Into the Vil-
lage Through Breach in
Bank Below.

Yesterday was the first exhibition day for the Missouri. The Big Muddy had been out of its banks north of the city for two days, working its way into Clay county in the form of a creek, that swelled at times to lakes. Yesterday morning found the river more than a mile wide near Parkville, with Parkville high and dry, but the incursion made on the Kansas side. Towards this city, however an due east of Kansas City, Kas., the Missouri had eaten its way till it was three times its normal width. Right north of the city Harlem stood safe till about noon yesterday, when back water began going into it. The Harlem shore is fairly high and it held back the Missouri even as late as dark last night, but east of the little town about three-quarters of a mile the shore line drops. The river got over this by 10 o'clock and began pouring into a swamp to the north. As this filled the water made its way back west, so that the Missouri was simultaneously traveling east and west within a few yards of both currents Harlem lay at the extreme western end of this swamp. The back water got to it by noon. Field glasses showed that the people were all moving out of the hamlet before the first water got to them. By 4 o'clock the water was entering the Harlem church. The church is on a little rise on the ground. East of Harlem half a mile was to be seen at dusk a white houseboat, apparently standing the in the middle of the Missouri. Its location marked the north bank of the Missouri river.

To the far east stands St. George's hospital, the "pest house." It was abandoned by all but Dr. J. H. Ashton and a cook four days ago. Four smallpox patients were spirited to some secluded spot and are being taken care of. Meantime there is a mile of water between the hospital and the mainland, although between the hospital and the river there is a high bank. The Missouri had gone over the south bank between Kansas City and the isolation hospital, cutting the hospital off. The two men in the plant say they are in no danger, as they have a boat and the current between the m and the mainland is not swift. They said last night that nothing in the way of bodies nor carcasses of cattle has been observed going down stream, though it has been constantly watched. No farm products have gone past, either, showing that the flood has not done much permanent damage so far.

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May 10, 1908


James Rowland Revises His Story
Now That He Is Well.

James Rowland, 14 years old, 1516 Harrison street, was discharged from the general hospital yesterday afternoon as out of danger. He was taken to his home by his father.

Young Rowland is the boy who, late last month, was knocked from the north approach of the Hannibal bridge and fell thirty feet. A step on the baggage car of the Rock Island train which struck him fractured his skull on the left side and the fall broke and dislocated his right arm. Drs. J. P. Neal and H. R. Conway trephined the lad's skull at the emergency hospital an hour after the accident, and to that quick work the boy owes his life. They removed several pieces of bone which were pressing on the brain.

On the night the boy was injured, he was walking across the bridge from Harlem when James Knowlden, a farmer, called to him and said, "Look out! There's a train coming across the bridge."

Not seeing the train himself, and, being of a joking turn of mind,, Rowland called back: "Oh, I don't care. I want to die anyway." On that account it was believed that the boy had tried to commit suicide. He says now that he made the remark just in fun and did not see the train until it was upon him.

Rowland said that on that day he played "hookey" from school and was induced by a boy called "Rusty" to go to Harlem. After reaching there, Rowland changed his mind and concluded to go home. He had only 5 cents left and intended to go home by way of the toll bridge. He walked onto the trestle approach instead of the wagon road below.

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