Source: Thirty-Six Years in the White House
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “Chapter X”
Author(s): Pendel, Thomas F.
Publisher: Neale Publishing Company
Place of publication: Washington, DC
Year of publication: 1902
Pagination: 153-68 (excerpt below includes only pages 163-67)
|Pendel, Thomas F. “Chapter X.” Thirty-Six Years in the White House. Washington, DC: Neale, 1902: pp. 153-68.|
|excerpt of chapter|
|McKinley assassination; White House.|
|Anna Roosevelt Cowles; Mr. Gilbert; Abraham Lincoln; Abner McKinley; Ida McKinley; William McKinley; Presley M. Rixey; Theodore Roosevelt; Jerry Smith.|
From title page: Thirty-Six Years in the White House: Lincoln—Roosevelt.
From title page: By Thomas F. Pendel, Door-Keeper.
Chapter X [excerpt]
On the 6th of September, about
twenty-five minutes past four in the afternoon, Jerry Smith, one of the servants
at the White House, came to the foot of the stairs and called up to me, “The
President is shot!” He had been cleaning in the telegraph room and had heard
the awful news. Scarcely believing my ears, I called out, “What, Jerry?” He
said again, “The President has been shot!” I 
did not think it could be so, supposing it was some wild rumor that had gotten
out. I asked Mr. Gilbert, one of the specially appointed policemen on duty at
the White House, to try and find out if the news was true, but they were so
busy in the telegraph room that we could not hear anything. Mr. Gilbert was
skeptical, as well as myself, as to whether the report was true. About twenty
minutes after this a newspaper man came hurrying to the White House with the
news. Then there was a sad gloom all over the house. Men were coming to and
fro, asking questions continually. We continued to receive word from Buffalo
of the President’s condition, and were very much encouraged from the favorable
tone of most of them. On the 12th of September we were particularly glad, as
on that morning he partook of a cup of coffee, a piece of toast and a soft-boiled
egg, and we all thought that in about two weeks he would be able to return to
the White House. On that night there was a turn for the worse. His physicians
were called in and worked hard over him, but with the sad result that we all
know so well. On Friday he grew worse and worse. I remained at the White House
that  night until ten o’clock. The news
continued to come in worse and gloom and sadness fell over the whole city and
over the nation. Saturday morning, the 14th of September, at twenty-five minutes
after two o’clock, he passed away. And there was sorrow and weeping all over
our land. My little home was among the very first to be draped in mourning.
He laid in state Sunday and part of Monday at Buffalo. Tuesday night the remains were brought to Washington. Mrs. McKinley, with Dr. Rixey and Mr. Abner McKinley, came to the White House probably half an hour before the remains arrived. It was a very sad sight. Previous to his remains being brought in the undertaker came and was making arrangements for the casket to be laid under the centre chandelier in the East Room. He was just arranging so as to have his head lay to the south and his feet to the north. Seeing this, I told him that President Lincoln’s remains laid with the head to the north and his feet to the south. The undertaker immediately changed the position so that he laid as Mr. Lincoln did. After the remains had been brought in and the two sol-  diers and two marines had taken their position at the head and foot of the casket, Mrs. McKinley came in on the arm of Dr. Rixey to take a long look at her dear husband. It was very sad. Again in the morning she took her final farewell of the remains before they were removed to the Capitol. I have at my home, pressed and carefully preserved, one of the leaves from the many flowers which kept arriving all the time.
President McKinley was a remarkable man; he was genial, a natural magnet. He drew the masses of the people to him. Always had a kind word, greeting with the extension of his hand every one that called on him, and endeavored to make them feel happy and at home.
As the funeral train passed through the towns on its way to Washington and Canton, great crowds met and sang in concert his favorite hymn, “Lead, Kindly Light,” and the hymn containing his last words, “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”
After the funeral at Canton, President Roosevelt returned to Washington and took up his residence at his sister’s, Mrs. Cowles, on N Street. In a few days he came to the  White House to reside, and shortly after his family arrived from Oyster Bay.