The Sad Journey to Canton
THE SAD JOURNEY TO CANTON.
The funeral train bearing the remains
of President McKinley crossed the west line of Pennsylvania and
entered his home State and his home Congressional District at 10
o’clock a. m., Wednesday, September 18, 1901.
This is the district he represented
for fourteen years in the halls of Congress. Many who had known
the President personally, who had shaken his hand and gazed into
his genial face, lined the tracks to do honor to all that remained
on earth of their neighbor, friend and chief. From the State line
to Canton, the President’s home, the line of mourners was almost
continuous. Although a stirring depth of feeling had been manifested
as the train passed through other States of the Union with its burden,
nowhere was poignant grief so evident as it was during the sad journey
through the President’s home State.
It is the second time the State of
Ohio has been called upon to pay homage to the ashes of one of its
sons, elevated to the Presidency and then stricken by an assassin’s
bullet in the prime of his career.
The mustering of popular sentiment
was awe-inspiring, both because of the numerical strength of the
mourners and the intensity of feeling shown. In every sense was
the trip of the President’s body to its last resting place memorable.
Miles upon miles of humanity were passed, thousands upon thousands
of heads were bared. Hundreds upon hundreds of crape-tied flags
were displayed, while, in the distance, the emblem of the nation
was seen at half-mast upon the schoolhouse or other public building.
Company upon company of State militia
presented arms, while peal upon peal of the death knell came from
church and courthouse bells. In all there was not a smile seen from
the train, and the ears of President Roosevelt and Mrs. McKinley
were not jarred by the sound of cheers or unseemly shouts of acclaim.
The thousands of school children, lined up near the track, maintained
a silence as profound, as sympathetic and as reverent as their elders,
who felt more deeply.
Through Maryland and Pennsylvania,
where the outlines of black mountains frowned dimly upon the train
as it passed in the night, bonfires were seen where they had been
lit to keep the watchers awake in their night vigil. 
The flames lit up the sides of the funeral train and cast flickering
shadows against the sides of the great hills. In the towns at night
the torches lit up the anxious, sympathetic faces of the mourners,
who had lost sleep and braved the chill so as to have a brief look
at the train which was hurrying to the President’s burial ground.
An entire regiment of the State troops
was ranked along the tracks at Pittsburg near the station. No stop
was made at the big sooty city. Against one of the hills were placed
several hundred girls in the form of a flag. The long railroad bridge
over the Allegheny was solid with men and boys, whose coats almost
touched the train as it passed through.
From Pittsburg the train followed
the Ohio river for miles. Old river steamboats blew sorrowful, long-drawn-out
salutes to the passing train. Flags upon them were at half-mast.
On the shores of West Virginia opposite
there were crowds assembled who saw the train speed by in the distance.
Many of the towns on the banks of the Ohio consisted of long strings
of houses in the gulch. Some of the towns containing only a few
thousand inhabitants stretched along for a great distance. All the
people were gathered at the track, both from the towns and the country
sides for miles around. Doorsteps of every house were filled with
watchers, the old folks’ faces were seen gazing through the windows
and the roof tops were thronged.
At a country cross-road, where there
was not a house in sight, several score of men, women and children
were gathered. The buggies and farm wagons a little distance away
showed they had come from a distance. Their horses were munching
in their feed bags, unaware of what was the mournful occasion of
their day’s journey.
East Palestine, the first Ohio station
passed by the train, appeared to be a little village nestled in
between two great hills. There were enough people scattered at the
tracks, however, to warrant the presumption that it was a city of
From early dawn, when the first rays
of the sun came shimmering through the Allegheny mists, the country
through which the McKinley funeral train passed seemed alive with
waiting people. As the train was later than its schedule the probabilities
were that many thousands lined up along the track had been waiting
for almost an hour for the fleeting glimpse of the cars accompanying
the murdered President’s body to its last resting place.
Steel workers, with their dinner pails
in their hands, ran the risk of being late at the mills in order
to pay their last homage to the dead. It was at the 
steel towns, just east of Pittsburg, that the largest early crowds
lined the tracks.
Between and east of the mill towns
was the open mountain country interspersed with an occasional cluster
of houses near coal mines or oil wells. Even in the open country
as early as 6 a. m. there were people gathered at the cross-roads
or leaning against farm fences.
Faces were seen peering through, up
and down windows of houses situated near the tracks. In railroad
yards hundreds were crowded on top of cars so as to obtain a view
as the sections of the Presidential train picked their way through
the maze of tracks. Women and girls as well as men and boys were
eager to see the cars go by.
In the railroad cars in Pitcairn,
a few miles east of Pittsburg, hundreds of factory girls were lined
up. It was 8:35 a. m. when the train passed through Pitcairn, so
most of the girls with lunch boxes under their arms must have been
quite late to work, all for the sake of the few seconds’ look at
the train which brought so close to them the victim of the anarchist’s
bullet and his successor, President Roosevelt.
Young women who were not shop girls
were there, too, evidently having come from the most exclusive residence
districts of the little city, trudging through the rough tracks
to obtain a brief look.
Away from the crowds at the towns
solitary watchers were passed. Engineers and firemen of passing
trains leaned far out of their cab windows when the train approached.
Boys and girls, perched high on rocky crags, remained in their points
of vantage to see the train fly past.
As the train neared Pittsburg it passed
between a continuous line of men and women, boys and girls, miles
There was hardly a space of a dozen
feet that was not filled. On the sides and tops of the near-by foothills
colored specks told of the bright dresses of women and girls, who
were watching the entrance of the long tunnel in Pittsburg, which
was like a human archway, so many persons of all ages and sexes
were crowded around and above the black opening.
One enterprising lad was high on a
church steeple and waved his hat. The viaducts were simply jammed
with thousands of human beings. The high tops of the iron girders
were covered with boys, while the vertical steel pillars supported
venturesome climbers. Windows of mills and factories, where employees
were busy a moment before, were crowded with eager faces as the
train drew near.
From beyond Braddock, which is twelve
miles from Pittsburg, the con- 
tinuous and mournful ovation began and continued almost in a solid
line until the train was miles out of the Smoky City.
On top of a carload of stone in Pittsburg
were about a hundred girls, and they presented a most picturesque
appearance. Although the crowds were far greater than ever greeted
any President of the United States alive, not a smile was seen,
not a cheer was heard. The train passed between the walls of solemn-visaged
humanity miles long.
The sun burst through the smoky pall
at intervals and lit up the bright colors of the women’s dresses
with an indescribable effect. Although the dresses were bright,
the faces were not. They were evidently filled with sympathy for
the dead President and Mrs. McKinley, and with execration of the
assassin whose foul deed was the cause of the present sad demonstration.
Thousands upon thousands of bared
heads of the men as seen from the train windows bore evidence of
their reverence for the ashes of their President, while the grim
set of their countenances bespoke little of the quality of mercy
for the murderous anarchist.
Grassy terraces covered with a bright
green carpet were dotted with the pink, red and blue dresses of
the women and girls, presenting in the bright sunshine a wonderful
effect. The crowds thickened as the depot was approached until every
street was jammed and every available space filled hundreds deep.
As the train sped through the Ohio
hills the country smiled with glowing golden rod as if to remind
those on the train that the simple blossom was a favorite with the
late President. The mowed fields were as green as if the summer
were young instead of at its close.
Gorgeous red of the sumac and the
russet brown of the ivy were the only colors to relieve the green
of the woods. The aspect of the land was pleasant as if the honored
son of Ohio were being welcomed to his last home-coming by the earth
which was to receive him so soon. A sprinkling of clouds tempered
the rays of the sun and relieved its glare, making it an ideal day
for rejoicing, rather than gloom.
Smiling as were the elements, however,
their gladsome joy was not reflected in the countenances of the
fellow-citizens of the departed Ohioan. Had the sky been somber
as night and the earth as desolate as the desert the countenances
of those thousands of human beings assembled along the route could
not have been gloomier.
One noticeable feature of the crowds
was that so many people were attired in their Sunday best. These
had arrayed themselves as for a funeral, 
the same as if some member of their own family was to be buried,
and all for the sake of the mere glimpse of the presidential train
and for the privilege of paying a momentary mute homage to the memory
of the illustrious dead.
In other days Canton has been clothed
in a gay garb of color, bands have played stirringly, richly attired
women have smiled and men have shouted for William McKinley. But
those were happier days than this, the occasion of the home-coming
of a guide, friend and neighbor who, having climbed the ladder of
fame, fell before the assassin’s bullet and died in the arms of
In all the little city which the dead
President loved there was hardly a structure that bore no badge
of sorrow. In Tuscarawas street, from one end to the other, business
houses were hung heavy with crape and at intervals huge arches,
draped and festooned in mourning colors, spanned the route of the
procession from the train to the county courthouse.
One of the arches was in front of
the Canton high school, half a block from McKinley avenue. The school
was draped, and in every window was a black-bordered portrait of
the late President. In this thoroughfare, too, are two large churches,
one of which was regularly attended by Major McKinley, the First
Methodist Episcopal, at Cleveland avenue, a block from the courthouse.
At each corner of the edifice and above the big cathedral windows
were broad draperies deftly looped, each bearing a large white rosette.
The other church, the First Presbyterian, was similarly adorned.
The courthouse, the scene of the lying
in state, was a mass of sable hue. At the entrance, between the
two big doors, was a tablet wrought in crape and upon the cloth
shield was emblazoned in white the utterance of the President when
told that he must die:
“It is God’s way. His will, not ours,
In front of the courthouse was another
Canton was astir with break of day,
such residents as had not displayed badges and draperies of mourning
performing the task that morning. At Nemicella Park the soldiers
of Troop A of Cleveland and the militia of various parts of the
State were busy preparing to escort the distinguished dead up Tuscarawas
On every corner in the downtown districts
boys and men were shouting out “Official badges here” and selling
pictures of the dead President.
Before 8 o’clock the rotunda of the
courthouse had been prepared for the reception of the body. With
the exception of dainty white streamers from the chandeliers there
was no trace of white in the large apartment 
wherein the public should have a last look upon the face of the
departed executive. The walls and ceilings were covered with black
cloth looped here and there from the ornamental pillars with streamers
and rosettes of the same color. From each chandelier was suspended
a small American flag, a larger one fluttering just above the catafalque.
Three hours before the funeral train
was scheduled to arrive more than a thousand men and women had gathered
at Courthouse square and hundreds of others had congregated in the
vicinity of the railway depot, each anxious to be as near the casket
as possible when it was taken from the car Pacific.
At the McKinley home itself, almost
the only residence in Canton that bore no trace of mourning, was
another throng, and there was not a door or window that had not
been peered at most assiduously by curious visitors and equally
curious residents of the city.
Every train brought crowds of visitors,
come to witness and take a sorrowful share in the last rites. Every
hotel was full to overflowing, four or five persons occupying a
room scarcely large enough for two, and halls and parlors had been
filled with cots. Even these brought prices as high as would procure
one of the best rooms in a metropolitan hotel.
Complete plans could not be made until
after the arrival of the funeral train. It had been the intention
to have the body lie in state until evening and then remove it to
the McKinley home in North Market street, but Mrs. McKinley objected,
asserting that she could not endure the thought of having her husband’s
Above the high steps and over the
main entrance to the courthouse hung a painting of Maj. McKinley
twenty feet square. It had a white border and made a very effective
piece against the broad expanse of black that obscured all the first
part of the second story of the structure. The most effective arch
in the city was that in front of the high school. This was erected
by the pupils of the public schools. It was square on top and bore
on either side a picture of the dead President. On the left of each
picture was the legend “We loved him,” and on the right “He loved
On either support was a large card
bearing this: “Canton Public Schools.”