President McKinley Buried at Canton
The body of President McKinley was
placed in the receiving vault of Westlawn cemetery at Canton, September
The last ceremonies for the late President
were marked with a dignity that struck dumbness to the tens of thousands
who watched the funeral column make the journey from the home to
From the south parlor of the frame
house which had so long been the family home the casket was borne
to the First Methodist church here, with statesmen, diplomats, great
men of a nation, representatives of the world, gathered with the
sorrowing members of the family.
Rev. O. B. Milligan of the First Presbyterian
led in prayer. Rev. C. E. Manchester, pastor of the First Methodist
Episcopal Church, which President McKinley attended when living
at Canton, spoke briefly on the life of the late President. He said
“It was characteristic of our beloved
President that men met him only to love him. They might indeed differ
with him, but in the presence of such dignity of character and grace
of manner none could fail to love the man. The people confided in
him, believed in him. It was said of Lincoln that probably no man
since the days of Washington was ever so deeply imbedded and enshrined
in the hearts of the people, but it is true of McKinley in a larger
sense. Industrial and social conditions are such that he was, even
more than his predecessors, the friend of the whole people.
“He was sincere, plain and honest,
just, benevolent and kind. He never disappointed those who believed
in him, but he measured up to every duty, and met every responsibility
in life grandly and unflinchingly.
“Not only was our President brave,
heroic and honest; he was as gallant a knight as ever rode the lists
for his lady love in the days when knighthood was in flower. It
is but a few weeks since the nation looked on with tear-dimmed eyes
as it saw with what tender conjugal devotion he sat at the bedside
of his beloved wife, when all feared that a fatal illness was upon
her. No public clamor that he might show himself to the populace,
no demand of a social function, was sufficient to draw the lover
from the bedside of his wife. He watched and waited while we all
prayed—and she lived.
“In the midst of our sorrow we have
much to console us. He lived to see his nation greater than ever
before. All sectional lines are blotted out. There is no South,
no North, no East, no West. Washington saw the beginning of our
national life. Lincoln passed through the night of our history and
saw the dawn. McKinley beheld his country in the splendor of its
noon. Truly, he died in the fulness [sic] of his fame.”
The other ministers officiating were
Rev. Father Edward J. Valtmaun of Chicago, chaplain of the United
States army at Fort Sheridan, and was a warm personal friend of
the President, and the venerable Bishop I. W. Joyce of Minneapolis.
The music selected comprised favorite
hymns of President McKinley: “The Beautiful Isle of Somewhere,”
“Lead, Kindly Light,” and “Nearer My God to Thee.”
No more impressive cortege ever escorted
king or emperor to the last home than the one which followed William
McKinley’s body to the tomb. No great historic father of a people
was ever surrounded by more evidences of devotion.
A double line of soldiers guarded
the roadway from the church to the cemetery, a distance of nearly
two miles. They had not much to do. The crowds were content to wait
impatient for this, their last opportunity to do honor to the memory
of William McKinley. As the cortege passed every hat was lifted.
No feature of the funeral procession
occasioned more comment than the empty carriage that has been known
in Canton for years as the “President’s carriage.” In this, with
Mrs. McKinley, he had been in the habit of riding about the city
almost daily during his vacation here. The carriage had grown so
familiar to those living here that they could easily picture the
President and sweet-faced wife as they had been seen so many times.
The pathway from the gates of the
cemetery to the tomb was strewn with sweet pea blossoms, the offering
of the school children of Nashville, Tenn.
The funeral car reached the cemetery
gates at 4 o’clock. From the hilltop the President’s salute of twenty-one
guns, fired at intervals of one minute, announced its coming.
With bared heads the President and
members of the cabinet, who were followed by the officers of the
army and navy, stood on each side of the walk, the lines reaching
just to the edge of the roadway. Within a minute after the formation
of the lines, the funeral car came up to the walk. The casket was
gently lifted from the hearse, and borne to the floor of the vault,
where it was rested upon the catafalque.
It was again carried by the same men
of the army and navy who have carried it since it left Buffalo.
Before them, as the casket was borne up the walk, walked Colonel
Bingham, who had been aid to President McKinley. At its head on
the right walked Lieutenant Hamlin of the army and in a corresponding
position on the left Lieutenant Eberle of the navy.
Bishop Joyce read the burial service
of the Methodist church. Eight buglers sounded “taps,” the soldier’s
The last of the procession passed
the  bier at 5:45 o’clock,
and then orders were given by Captain Riddle, who had command of
the soldiers who will guard the vault, that the cemetery be cleared.
This was quickly carried out and the President was left in care
of his guard of honor.
One of the most pathetic features
of the day was the absence of Mrs. McKinley from the funeral services
at the church and cemetery. Since the first shock of the shooting,
then of death, and through the ordeal of state ceremonies, she had
borne up bravely. But there was a limit to human endurance, and
the last day found her too weak to pass through the trials of the
Through the open door of her room
she heard the prayer of the ministers as the body was borne out
of the house. After that Dr. Rixey remained close by her side, and
although the full force of the calamity had come upon her, it was
believed by those about her that there was a providential mercy
in her tears, as they gave some relief to the anguish of the heart
Never before has such a floral display
been seen on this continent at any public occasion. The vault was
lined with the rarest and costliest flowers, a multitude of floral
pieces was spread on the ground before the door of the vault, and
for 100 feet to the right and left of the doorway and for half as
many feet to the rear of a line passing through the front wall it
was impossible to tread, so thickly did the tributes lie.
Nearly every country on both hemispheres
was represented by an offering. Cuba and Porto Rico sent native
flowers. The number of those from the United States was almost past
counting. They came from every state in the Union, and there is
scarcely a man in public life whose tribute of respect did not lie
beside the coffined remains.
President Roosevelt’s proclamation
commanding the people throughout the country to observe the day
with fitting ceremonies was obeyed. Memorial services were held
in all parts of the United States and in foreign countries. Business
was suspended. For at least five minutes nearly every business house
in this country was idle, trains were stopped; telegraph machines
stopped their clicking to do honor to the dead.
The remains of President McKinley
will remain in the vault until they are buried in granite. The coming
session of Congress will probably appropriate funds for the erection
of a monument. The school children of Canton have already started
a fund to the same end. The late President was especially dear to
the hearts of the school children of his country. One of the touching
features of the funeral journey was the presence of thousands of
school children, who lined the track all along the route. In Canton
the school children and all little children, for that matter, fairly
worshiped at his shrine.