Events of the Last Days
One of the Nurses Relates Incidents of the Terrible
Time Preceding the End.
All in Room So Aff cted [sic] and Tearful That Little Notice
of What Else Was Going On.
When President William McKinley died
last Saturday morning, two nurses, both graduates in the 1898 class
of nurses of the General Hospital, were in attendance at his bedside.
They are Miss Jennie Connolly of No. 676 Elm Street and Miss Maud
Mohan of No. 529 Franklin Street.
Miss Mohan was in the sick chamber
from the time he began to sink at 3 o’clock Friday morning until
the moment he died. She had been in almost constant attendance on
him the days previous from the hour he was removed to the Milburn
home, and as she had voluntarily risen from a sick bed herself in
order to attend him, she is prostrated now at her boarding house.
Though weak and nervously ill, as
her physician said, her dark eyes twinkled and her manner was vivacious
as she talked a recent afternoon. She told an intense, vivid story
of the scenes surrounding the death chamber, and said:
“The first few days of the President’s
illness we nurses had it pretty easily, as we had eight-hour watches.
But as the case went on the President’s condition did not remain
the same or show the same amount of improvement. Friday morning
he began to sink, and as I am a surgical nurse I was immediately
sent for by the doctors.
“It was nothing but work and hurry
from that time on. The doctors were nearly always there consulting
and giving directions and the President was constantly treated and
“The scenes in the sick chamber
were almost heart-breaking. Mrs. McKinley came in in the early morning
and staid [sic] for some time. I don’t see how she maintained
her composure so well. She sobbed a little bit, but she didn’t thoroughly
break down and Miss Evelyn Hunt, her special nurse, who comes from
San Francisco, managed to keep her up.
“The report that Mrs. McKinley left
the chamber and saw the President alive for the last time about
11 o’clock or perhaps 10:30, is absolutely correct. I was there
and I know. She never saw him again until the next morning when
he was dead. Only a few in the household really knew that he was
actually dying. We nurses knew it was merely a question of hours.
He was growing weaker gradually and when he died it was as softly
and peacefully as if he had been sleeping.
“Miss Connolly and myself were the
only women nurses there then. Miss McKenzie, who came from Baltimore,
did nothing towards treating Mr. McKinley. We served the doctors
and signed the sworn statements.
“Abner McKinley was, of course, in
the room at the time, Secretary Cortelyou and some—a few—others.
I do not exactly recall now who they were. While the room was perfectly
quiet, we were either so frightened or tearful and consumed with
the spectacle of death before us that none, I believe, thought of
who else was there or what was being done. There appeared to be
only one thought in all our minds, one clear, tangible idea, and
that was that the patient was dying.”
THAT FAVORABLE BULLETIN.
“How about that favorable bulletin
issued Friday afternoon, in which the doctors said the President
“I don’t know anything about that.
The President sank from the time I reached the house Friday morning
until he died. He was never better and his condition did not improve.”
“What do you think caused his weakness,”
was asked Miss Mohan.
“I guess he didn’t get enough food
in his system. There was a lack of nourishment and he became emanciated
[sic] and weak. That was perfectly natural. The doctors gave
him some injections of prepared food, but it wasn’t enough. When
he ate that breakfast he was famishing.”
“Did the President ask for a cigar,
as was reported at the time?”
“I didn’t hear it.”
“Then you don’t think the doctors
did enough for him?”
“Oh, I won’t say that,” quickly exclaimed
the nurse. “They did all they could. They did the best that was
in them. I don’t think any physician could have done more. It was
nothing but decide what was best all the time. We all tried everything
in our power to keep him alive.
“I think the Buffalo papers ought
to give we Buffalo nurses some credit for our work out there. The
two nurses from outside the city did absolutely nothing. We did
all the work.
BUNDLES OF MAIL.
“We were bothered enough, goodness
knows. I received bundles of mail out there from patent medicine
men, makers of mattresses, beds, springs, and I don’t know or remember
all the rest. They had all kinds of propositions to make in order
to get advertising out of it. I tore their letters up. We didn’t
have any time to think about advertising.”
Miss Mohan came to Buffalo five years
ago from Brockville, Ont. She secured her training by taking the
regular prescribed course for nurses at the General Hospital, and
for a year after was in charge of the women’s surgical department
of the General Hospital. She has since been with several prominent