Source: Timely Topics
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “President McKinley Buried at Canton”
Date of publication: 27 September 1901
Volume number: 6
Issue number: 4
|“President McKinley Buried at Canton.” Timely Topics 27 Sept. 1901 v6n4: pp. 52-53.|
|McKinley funeral services (Canton, OH); C. E. Manchester (eulogies); William McKinley (presidential character); Ida McKinley (grieving); William McKinley (mourning: flowers, tokens of grief, etc.).|
|William S. Biddle, Jr. [identified as Riddle below]; Theodore Alfred Bingham; Lieutenant Eberle; Lieutenant Hamlin; Isaac W. Joyce; Abraham Lincoln; C. E. Manchester; Ida McKinley; William McKinley; O. B. Milligan; Theodore Roosevelt; Edward J. Vattman [misspelled below]; George Washington.|
President McKinley Buried at Canton
The body of President McKinley was placed in
the receiving vault of Westlawn cemetery at Canton, September 19.
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 the cemetery.
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 in part:
“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 last call.
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 final ceremonies.
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 within.
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.