Publication information
view printer-friendly version
Source: Buffalo Courier
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Events of the Last Days”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Buffalo, New York
Date of publication: 18 September 1901
Volume number: 66
Issue number: 261
Pagination: 8

“Events of the Last Days.” Buffalo Courier 18 Sept. 1901 v66n261: p. 8.
full text
McKinley nurses; Maud Mohan; Maud Mohan (public statements); William McKinley (medical care); Ida McKinley; William McKinley (death); William McKinley (medical care: personal response).
Named persons
Jennie Connolly; George B. Cortelyou; Evelyn Hunt; Grace McKenzie; Abner McKinley; Ida McKinley; William McKinley; Maud Mohan.


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 Was Taken
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 watched.


     “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.”


     “How about that favorable bulletin issued Friday afternoon, in which the doctors said the President was better?”
     “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.


     “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 Buffalo physicians.



top of page