Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Impressive Sight”
City of publication: Richmond, Virginia
Date of publication: 19 September 1901
Volume number: 16
Issue number: 192
Pagination: 1, 3
|“Impressive Sight.” Times [Richmond] 19 Sept. 1901 v16n192: pp. 1, 3.|
|William McKinley (posthumous return: Canton, OH); Ida McKinley (arrival at Canton, OH: 18 Sept. 1901); Ida McKinley (grieving); Theodore Roosevelt (at Canton, OH); William McKinley (lying in state: Canton, OH); William McKinley (mourning).|
|Theodore Alfred Bingham; William S. Cowles; William R. Day; George Dewey; Lyman J. Gage; Abner McKinley; Ida McKinley; William McKinley; Nelson A. Miles; Presley M. Rixey; Theodore Roosevelt; Joseph S. Saxton.|
Judge Grant, named below in paragraph 5, cannot be identified.
On page 3 the article bears the title “President’s Body Reaches Home.”
Funeral Train Rolled into Canton in Absolute Silence.
CANTON, Sept. 18.—The sight was
profoundly impressive as the funeral train drew into the little station at Canton
at exactly noon to-day. All about the station and banked deep in the surrounding
streets were the friends and neighbors of the martyred President, while drawn
up back of the station were long lines of militiamen at present arms. Immediately
in the rear of the station, at the mouth of Tenth Street, was troop “A” of Cleveland,
mounted on their black chargers, keeping the entrance of the line of march clear.
All about were the black symbols of mourning. The approach of the train was unheralded. No whistle was blown, no bell was rung. In absolute silence it rolled into the station. At the mere sight of the train the people who had been waiting there for hours were greatly affected. Women sobbed and men wept.
MRS. M’KINLEY APPEARED.
For a full minute after it had stopped no one appeared. Judge Day and his committee moved slowly down the platform in front of the line of soldiers to the catafalque car and waited. Suddenly Abner McKinley, in deep black, his face tense and drawn, appeared in the vestibule of the car next that conveying the remains, and a moment later Dr. Rixey appeared, half carrying a frail and broken form. It was Mrs. McKinley, arrayed in the deepest mourning. Beneath the heavy black veil she held her handkerchief to her eyes and her slight figure shook convulsively. Gently she was lifted from the car and supported by  Dr. Rixey and Abner McKinley, and was practically carried to a carriage in waiting at the east end of the station. The door of the carriage was closed and Mrs. McKinley was driven hurriedly to her home on North Market Street, which she had left only two weeks ago with her distinguished husband in the full vigor of manhood.
Colonel Bingham, the President’s
aide, then gave directions for the removal of the casket from the car. The coffin
was too large to be taken through the door, and a broad window at the side was
unscrewed and removed. While this was going on, the floral pieces inside were
carefully lifted out and placed upon the ground at the side of the track. When
all was ready the soldiers and sailors who had accompanied the remains all the
way from Buffalo emerged from the car and took up their places. The soldiers
trailed their arms at their sides and the sailors held their drawn cutlasses
at their sides. Only the body bearers were bare-headed and unarmed.
Meantime President Roosevelt, with his brother-in-law, Captain Cowles, of the navy, in full uniform, at his side, had descended from the car ahead of that occupied by Mrs. McKinley. The President was met by Judge Grant, of the Reception Committee, and the official party then moved to the west of the station, where they formed in line with the President at the head. All were uncovered.
COVERED BY FLAG.
The casket was then lifted through
the window and taken upon the brawny shoulders of the body-bearers. Only the
flag was on it now. At sight of it tears came unbidden and flowed freely. The
sad procession was then formed. It was headed by Colonel Bingham in full uniform,
a bow of crepe at the hilt of his sheathed sword. Following and immediately
preceding the casket was the local committee, headed by Judge Day. Then came
the soldiers and sailors. Slowly they moved down the platform to the turn at
the western end of the station, where the President and Cabinet stood. As they
reached the head of this line a clear drawn bugle call sounded a silvery requiem.
Before the President and Cabinet and the Ohio officials the coffin was then
borne to the hearse. When it had been placed inside, the President and the official
party entered carriages.
Meantime Admiral Dewey, Lieutenant-General Miles and the other high officers of the army and navy who compose the guard of honor had moved around the east side of the station. They also entered carriages and took their place in the larger procession that was now forming. All were attired in the full uniform of their rank. They were fairly ablaze with gold lace.
The shrillness of the bugles had given the first sign to the waiting multitude outside the station that the casket was approaching. Instantly the long lines of soldiers became rigid, standing at present arms. The black horses of the Cleveland troop, immediately facing the station, stood motionless, their riders with sabres lowered. Slowly through the entrance came the stalwart soldiers and sailors with solemn tread, bearing aloft the flag-covered coffin of the man they loved so well. As it came into view a great sigh went up from the dense throng; after the first glance many of the men and women turned away to hide their emotions, which they could not restrain.
When the casket had been consigned
to the hearse three mounted trumpeters gave signal for the melancholy procession
to move. A moment later the sound [of] “Nearer, My God, to Thee” floated through
the air, as the Grand Army veterans with their band swung into line and took
up the march toward the courthouse. A majestically solemn spectacle was presented
as the procession neared the public square in the center of the city. After
the Grand Army men came the Cleveland troops in their brilliant uniforms of
Austrian hussars, with tall bearskin shakos topped by pom-poms of white. At
the hilt of every sword streamed a long band of crepe and the tiny silk guidon
flag was topped with a long black streamer. Immediately following the mounted
troops came the hearse, bearing its flag-covered burden.
The sight sent a hush along the dense long lines of humanity stretching for a mile away to the courthouse. As the casket passed every head was bowed and every face evidenced the great personal grief which had come upon the community.
Immediately following the hearse
came the carriage of President Roosevelt, who rode with his brother-in-law,
Captain Cowles, of the navy, and Secretary Gage. The carriages of the other
members of the Cabinet and those who had been near to the late President in
public life were lined out for half a mile. Back of them marched the national
guard of Ohio, regiment after regiment, in platoon front formation and filling
the broad thoroughfare from side to side. As the head of the procession reached
the great square of the city, the military ranks swung about, forming solid
fronts facing the approaching hearse. As it was driven to the curb the bearers
stepped from the places alongside and again took up their burden. Before the
eyes of the vast concourse filling the square, the casket was tenderly raised
and borne up the wide stone steps leading to the entrance of the courthouse.
The strains of “Nearer, My God, to Thee” were still sounding as the flag-draped
coffin disappeared within the building.
Moving slowly with short steps the coffin was borne to its support. The bearers swung slowly around, so that the head lay to the east. The silk banner that was flung over the casket was drawn back, the wreaths which rested upon its head were removed, and the coffin lid was taken off. Word was quickly passed to President Roosevelt, and followed by the members of the Cabinet, he stepped briskly into the hall. He glanced down as he reached the casket, halted for the space of a breath, and went on. The members of the Cabinet followed him one by one.
The members of President McKinley’s
old commandery of Knights Templar, Canton Commandery, No. 38, had asked the
privilege of posting a sentry over the casket while it lay in state, and throughout
the afternoon the guard was relieved every thirty minutes.
Four detachments of militia were marched into the hall and drawn up in a line reaching from the entrance south to the bier. Another line stretched from the bier to the place where the hall diverged and down each side hall were other lines. Strict orders were given to see that there was no delay in the crowd as it passed out of the building. When everything was ready for the public to enter, Jos. Saxton, uncle of Mrs. McKinley, an aged man bowed deeply with the weight of years, entered from the east hall and passed up to the casket. He stood for fully two minutes gazing into the face of his distinguished kinsman. He then passed slowly down the hall, his head bowed low, his lips twitching convulsively.
VIEWED THE REMAINS.
A few final details were arranged and then the door was opened to the public. Two little girls were the first to approach the casket. Directly behind them was a tall, powerful man with a red moustache. As he gazed into the casket he caught his breath in a quick, sharp sob, that was audible in every part of the hallway. He then gave way entirely and weeping bitterly passed out. Many of the people as they looked upon the face of their dead found whom they had seen but two weeks ago in full health, caught their breath at the sight of him there. The President’s face was much thinner than they had expected it would be and the sight that met their eyes shocked them greatly. The crowd was admitted four abreast, passing to the right and left of the casket by twos. No delay was permitted and fully 150 a minute passed the bier.
BODY BORNE HOME.
All through the afternoon the crowd
passed the catalfaque [sic] approximately at the rate of one hundred
per minute, making in the five hours in which the body lay in state a total
of 30,000 people, practically a number equal to the population of Canton. When
the doors were closed at 6 o’clock the line, four abreast, stretched fully one
mile from the courthouse, and people were still coming from the side streets
to take their places in line.
At 6 o’clock the doors were closed to the public and preparations made for removing the body to the McKinley residence on North Market Street, several squares from the courthouse. Canton Commandery of the G. A. R. acted as escort, and there was no following. Arriving at the house, the escort formed in line in the street, presenting arms, while the conffin [sic], borne by the body-bearers, was taken into the house. It was placed in the front parlor, where it will remain until it is removed to the church to-morrow afternoon. Guards were posted around the house to-night and a number of sentries were placed in the front yard.