Edwin Pratt – Did You Know?

On a snowy night in 1969, Edwin was shot in his home, while Miriam and her mother, Bettye, were inside.

“I remember, I heard my mother cry ‘Edwin!’ and I sat up in the bed, and I was immediately engulfed in fear,” Miriam, now 55, tells Jean.

Jean and her mother were Pratts’ neighbors. They rushed over after receiving a phone call from Bettye.

“When I saw that front door was open, I knew. I knew,” says Jean, who was 21 at the time. “I’ll never forget walking into that family room and I could see your dad laying there and, of course, he was totally still. He died instantly.”

Jean Soliz and Miriam Pratt raise fists a few months after Edwin Pratt’s assassination in 1969. Inspired by Edwin and his wife Bettye, who had been a social worker, Jean went on to have a career in social services.

Jean ran and got Miriam from her room. For Miriam, that’s when “I knew everything was going to be alright,” she says.

Edwin had spent his last day playing with his daughter. “He played snowballs with you and took you on your little sled and spent that whole day with you,” Jean tells Miriam. “Which I think is a marvelous thing.”

After his death, Miriam’s mom didn’t talk much about Edwin, because it made her sad. Miriam was able to learn about him through a photo album that Bettye had put together. It was filled with newspaper clippings, obituaries, and personal pictures of Edwin.

What’s different about this story is what this little girl did all because she walked past a plaque for Edwin Pratt

NPR

#WebsterGrove

At the end of the Civil War, many black families, formerly enslaved, found their way to Webster Groves. They began to settle on Vinegar Hill and along Shady Creek. One of these persons was Ken Lankford, who was a preacher. He began preaching, just after the war in 1865, in a brush arbor, alongside Shady Creek. The trees there also provided shade for those who attended his services.

A year later, in 1866, William Porter helped to formally organize the church and it became the First Baptist Church of Webster Groves. Allen Brown contributed the first $25 for the church building, which had 18 other original members. Those members built the first church in their community, making sure it had a tall foundation because of its location near Shady Creek. Churches have long been a part of creating a community, and the First Baptist Church of Webster Groves did the same in North Webster.

The year that the First Baptist Church of Webster Groves was created, an English woman came through Webster Groves on a mission to establish schools for black children throughout Missouri. She was working for the assistant state superintendent of public schools, James Milton Turner, who was in charge of postwar black schools. Mrs. Dotwell, as she is only recorded, began the first school for black children in Webster Groves at the First Baptist Church in 1866 and taught black children there until the Webster Groves School District undertook its responsibility in 1868. At that time, there were 30 children in North Webster eligible to attend between the ages of 5 and 21. The school later became known as Douglass and the church still stands, albeit, in a new building.