Mrs. M’Kinley’s Great Heroism
ALBUQUERQUE, N. M.,
June 4.—Mrs. Charles Insco Williams, sister-in-law of William I.
Buchanan, chairman of the United States delegation to The Hague
Peace conference, is in the city the guest of her nephew, Col. D.
K. B. Sellers. Mrs. Williams, who is secretary of the Ohio Federation
of Women’s clubs, and who for several years past has been delegate
from Ohio to the national meeting of Women’s clubs, was an intimate
friend of Mrs. William McKinley, wife of the assassinated president,
and who passed away at her home in Canton recently, mourned by all
the country. Mrs. Williams was at Buffalo when the president was
shot, and was with Mrs. McKinley at the home of President Milburn
of the Pan-American exposition when the news of the occurrence was
brought to her.
Mrs. Williams’ brother-in-law, William
I. Buchanan was at that time director general of the Pan-American
exposition. He has acted as United States minister to Brazil and
Argentine [sic], was in charge for a few months at Panama and is
one of the best known diplomats in America. It is quite likely that
upon the return of Mr. and Mrs. Buchanan from The Hague they will
come to Albuquerque for a short stay.
Mrs. Williams’ narrative of the scenes
at the exposition when the president was shot is most interesting.
When the president was invited to
attend the exposition, Mrs. Williams was invited with Mrs. Buchanan
to accompany Mrs. McKinley and niece with the presidential party.
At the beginning of the presidential reception in the exposition
grounds, the ladies were driven to the home of President Milburn
of the fair to rest while the handshaking was in progress. Mrs.
McKinley being an invalid, it was suggested that she retire. She
was asleep and the other ladies were at the house when the telephone
message came that the president had been shot.
“Mr. Buchanan was at the telephone,”
said Mrs. Williams yesterday, “and immediately gave orders that
the telephone be taken out of the house and placed in an outbuilding
to prevent Mrs. McKinley learning of the trouble until the news
could be broken to her personally. Mrs. McKinley awoke and expressed
surprise that the president had not returned. ‘Isn’t he through
with the reception yet?’ she asked. In a few minutes, she said again,
in wonderment, although not anxiety, ‘It’s a wonder the president
does not come back.’ You can imagine the tension of the other inmates
of that house who were aware of the disaster and were obliged to
look as if nothing had happened.
“Presently, Mr. Buchanan and Surgeon
General Rixey came in and went into a room alone with the president’s
wife. ‘We have something to tell you,’ said Mr. Buchanan, ‘and you
must not let it make you ill.’ Mrs. McKinley appeared collected
and Mr. Buchanan went on to say, ‘The president has met with an
accident. He is still alive, however, and will be brought here soon.’
“Everyone believed that in her delicate
health the shock would in all probability kill Mrs. McKinley. She
exhibited wonderful nerve and fortitude, however, and when the martyred
president was brought in, went at once and kissed him, asking if
he was badly hurt. She did not cry or show the slightest trace of
hysteria and her bravery was the cause of the greatest surprise.”
Mrs. Williams’ story of the extreme
precautions Mr. Buchanan took to see that the president was safeguarded
during his visit, is an absorbing one. The party consisted on the
president, wife and niece, Mr. Cortelyou, his secretary; Mr. Buchanan
and wife, Surgeon General Rixey, President Milburn of the exposition
and Mrs. Williams. Seven secret service men attired as men of distinction
in conventional dress clothes and top hats, were constantly with
the party. There were a number of detectives and one bulky individual
who acted as the president’s especial body guard [sic]. Mr. Buchanan
who is a large, powerful man, kept close to Presidenet [sic] McKinley
and was constantly on the alert. There was also an escort of sixteen
United States soldiers.
“When we visited Niagara Falls,” said
Mrs. Williams, “the train did not stop until it has reached a point
three miles beyond, where we disembarked and entered carriages.
We were then driven back to the International hotel and went in
by the employes’ [sic] entrance. After dining there, the president,
closely guarded, was escorted out to his car in the special and
the escort then returned for the rest of the party. The next stop
was made in the private station erected for the president in the
The extreme precautions of Mr. Buchanan,
in reality only too much needed, were a source of merriment to the
ladies of the party.
According to Mrs. Williams, Mr. Buchanan
and Mr. Cortelyou were very nervous and strongly urged the president
to abandon his plan of shaking hands with the thousands of people
pressing around the building. They even implored him not to do it,
but he insisted and finally by Mr. Buchanan’s orders Mr. McKinley
took his stand with President Milburn and his body guard [sic] close
behind him, with Mr. Buchanan directly opposite, the line of people
passing single fine [sic] between. Strung out on either side were
the secret service men who closely inspected every man in the line
as he passed. The public is familiar with the rest of the tragedy.
One man hit upon the expedient of covering his hand with a handkerchief
out of regard for the president and the others quickly followed
The people had been doing this for
ten minutes before Czolgosz, the assassin, a small and insignificant
looking man, came along and extended a hand in which, covered by
the handkerchief, was the murderer’s weapon. The confusion that
followed was frightful, amid which the president was rushed to the
emergency hospital and a surgeon who was at the moment busy performing
an operation on a woman, finished the operation, which was at a
critical stage, and was at the president’s side in twenty-five minutes
to give what aid was possible. The days of agonizing suspense that
followed are fresh in the public memory.
Mrs. Williams tells many interesting
personal anecdotes of Mrs. McKinley, especially of her hobby for
knitting slippers out of only red and gray and presenting them to
her friends. She sent Mrs. Buchanan and Mrs. Williams each a pair
of these knitted slippers. By permission of Mrs. McKinley, the pair
given Mrs. Williams were sold at a charity ball at Dayton for $30.
Mrs. McKinley also presented a pair
of these famous slippers to the daughter of Mr. Buchanan when the
latter was to be married.
Mrs. Williams [pays?] a strong tribute
to the strength of character and attraactveness [sic] of Mrs. McKinley
and was much mpressed [sic] during the president’s lifetime with
his unfailing and absolute devotion to his wife.
Mrs. Williams will remain in this
city for some weeks a guest at the home of Colonel Sellers and wife.