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Source: New-York Tribune
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “At the Milburn House”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: New York, New York
Date of publication: 16 September 1901
Volume number: 61
Issue number: 20028
Pagination: 1-2

“At the Milburn House.” New-York Tribune 16 Sept. 1901 v61n20028: pp. 1-2.
full text
McKinley funeral services (Buffalo, NY); Charles Edward Locke; Charles Edward Locke (prayers); Marcus Hanna.
Named persons
Mary Barber (Ida McKinley niece); Mary C. Barber (Ida McKinley sister); Theodore Alfred Bingham; Charles G. Dawes; Marcus Hanna; Ethan A. Hitchcock; Jennie Hobart; Jesus Christ; Philander C. Knox; Charles Edward Locke; John D. Long; Ida McKinley; William McKinley; Benjamin B. Odell, Jr.; Theodore Roosevelt; Elihu Root; Charles Emory Smith; Ansley Wilcox; James Wilson.


At the Milburn House



     Buffalo, Sept. l5.—Simple and sincere in life, so was the funeral of William McKinley at the Milburn house to-day. There was no pomp, no harsh stiffness of painful ceremony. It was a sincere tribute of respect to a great and a good man who had died with the words “God’s will be done” upon his lips.
     Early in the morning the last preparations for the services at the Milburn house had been made. In the adjacent streets, where the restrictive lines had been maintained in the President’s last hours, a closer guard was placed, and the eager multitude which began pressing forward shortly after daylight was kept back.
     There were only a few persons at the house in the early morning, probably not a score in all, and it was not until after 10 o’clock that those who were to be admitted began to arrive. The Rev. Dr. Charles Edward Locke, of the Delaware Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, was among the first to come to the house, and in his visit there was something more than the ordinary interest of one chosen to conduct the last ceremonies on an occasion of this character. His father had been the pastor of the McKinley family in Canton many years ago, and when the clergyman entered the house he felt that it was not the common duty of a clergyman that he was called upon to perform over the sleeping form of a distinguished man, but that he was standing in the presence of one whom he had known in life and whose Christian faith and exalted character were known to him long before the dead man had become the pride of a sorrowing nation.


     The coffin rested in the drawing room on the first floor. It was richly draped in black, with the upper part open, and bearing the simple inscription on a silver plate:

Born  January  29,  1843.
Died  September  14,  1901.

     Across the foot of the coffin was a new silk American flag which fell in graceful folds to the floor. All about were an abundance of flowers sent from all parts of the country, with a large wreath of roses resting on the mantel near the head of the bier. At every door into the drawing room soldiers were stationed, and no one was permitted to enter.
     Shortly after the arrival of Dr. Locke came the choir from the First Presbyterian Church, of [1][2] Buffalo, who furnished all the music at the ceremony. They sang only the favorite hymns of the President.
     A little after 10 o’clock the members of the Cabinet arrived, and they were soon followed by Senator Hanna, who took his place at the foot of the coffin.
     Shortly after the arrival of Senator Hanna, President Roosevelt came in a carriage with Ansley Wilcox, and as he entered the room all those present arose and remained standing until he had passed in and halted at the head of the coffin. President Roosevelt showed signs of the great grief that he felt. Barely speaking to Secretary Root as he entered the room, he went quickly to the head of the coffin and for many moments he stood there looking down into the face of the dead President, with his jaws set, his face stern and motionless, his arms at his side, and rigid and dumb as marble. Of the Cabinet Messrs. Knox, Root, Long, Hitchcock, Wilson and Smith were present, seated in the folding chairs provided for them near the body.


     At a signal there rose from the hall the words of “Lead, Kindly Light,” sung by the quartet. It was President McKinley’s favorite hymn. Every one within sound of the music knew it, and as the voices swelled through the house half of those in the room put their faces in their hands to hide their tears. Controller Dawes leaned against a bookcase and wept. President Roosevelt seemed to be swaying to and fro, as if his footing were insecure.
     When the singing ended Dr. Locke read from I Corinthians, xv. All had risen as he began and remained standing throughout the services. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” repeated the minister. Again the voices rose with the words, “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” Dr. Locke, who was dressed in the simple garb of a clergyman of the Methodist church, then advanced to the head of the coffin. Bowing his head and folding his hands as he looked down into the face of the dead President, he said slowly and impressively, “Let us pray.” His prayer was as follows:

“Oh, God, our help in ages past,
     Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
     And our eternal home.”

     We, Thy servants, humbly beseech Thee for manifestations of Thy favor as we come into Thy presence. We laud and magnify Thy holy name and praise Thee for all Thy goodness. Be merciful unto us and bless us, as, stricken with overwhelming sorrow, we come to Thee. Forgive us for our doubts and fears and faltering faith, pardon all our sins and shortcomings and help us to say “Thy will be done.” In this dark night of grief abide with us till the dawning. Speak to our troubled souls, O God, and give to us in this hour of unutterable grief the peace and quiet which Thy presence only can afford. We thank Thee that Thou dost answer the sobbing sigh of the heart, and dost assure us that if a man die he shall live again. We praise Thee for Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Saviour [and?] Elder Brother; that He came to “bring [life?] and immortality to light,” and because He [lived?] we shall live also. We thank Thee that death is victory—that “to die is gain.” Have mercy upon us in this dispensation of Thy providence. We believe in Thee, we trust Thee, our God of Love, “the same yesterday, to-day and forever.”
     We thank Thee for the unsullied life of Thy servant, our martyred President, whom Thou hast taken to his coronation, and we pray for the final triumph of all the divine principles of pure character and free government for which he stood while he lived and which were baptized by his blood in his death.
     Hear our prayer for blessings of consolation upon all those who were associated with him in the administration of the affairs of the government. Especially vouchsafe Thy presence to Thy servant who has been suddenly called to assume the holy responsibility of our Chief Magistrate.
     O God, bless our dear nation and guide the Ship of State through stormy seas. Help Thy people to be brave to fight the battles of the Lord and wise to solve all the problems of freedom.
     Graciously hear us for comforting blessings to rest upon the family circle of our departed friend. Tenderly sustain Thine handmaiden upon whom the blow of this sorrow most heavily falls. Accompany her, O God, as Thou hast promised, through this dark valley and shadow, and may she fear no evil, because Thou art with her.
     All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Who has taught us when we pray to say, Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
     May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and communion of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen.

     All present joined in the Lord’s Prayer as the minister repeated it, President Roosevelt’s voice being audible at the back of the room. The service closed with a simple benediction. Those in the room stepped back. The undertaker was about to place the cover on the coffin, when suddenly there was a movement behind Governor Odell. Senator Hanna, who had risen, saw that the last opportunity to look into the countenance of his dead friend had come. He could restrain himself no longer. Pressing forward in an instant, he was at the side of the coffin, and bending over and looking down into it. Almost two minutes passed while he gazed into the coffin. There were no sobs. His grief was deeper than that. He simply looked and drank in the features of the dead. It was pathetic in the extreme. Then he turned away, and the coffin was closed.
     Colonel Bingham signalled the bodybearers. Four sailors of the navy, two infantry sergeants and two artillery sergeants bore the coffin out of the house. The President, the Cabinet members and the others followed it. Mrs. McKinley and the members of the family remained. The widow had passed through the ordeal bravely and without breaking down. During the services Mrs. McKinley, Mrs. Barber, Miss Barber and Mrs. Garret A. Hobart were seated at the head of the stairs, removed from the gaze of those in the lower rooms, but where they could plainly hear all that was said over the coffin.
     The trained nurses and the personal attendants of the President gathered on the side porch to see the body taken away. Through their tears from behind the screen of vines they saw it borne from the house, and as long as the hearse in which it was deposited remained in view they strained their dimmed eyes to see it. These noble women who minister to the sick and who are inured to sorrow were prostrated with grief.



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