This Week in History: Valley mourned McKinley’s death | News, Sports, Jobs


120 years ago, 1901

The front page of the Youngstown Vindicator was bordered in black with the portrait of a local leader framed against the headline: “Mourning Nation Weeps Beside Its Beer.” The injuries and death of President William McKinley dominated the newspaper for more than a week as news of his assassination in Buffalo, New York spread. News of the shooting first emerged on September 6, 1901, in hopes that he could survive his injuries. Unfortunately, this was not the case as an additional edition of the Youngstown Vindicator was released on September 14, with news that President McKinley was dead. The headline read “The Head of the Nation is now at rest. Saying a last goodbye to everyone and saying God’s will be done, the resigned victim has fallen into an eternal sleep and millions of people are crying.

President McKinley’s casket made its way from Buffalo to the East Room of the Executive Mansion in Washington, DC, before moving to the Capitol Rotunda. Locally, mourners paid their last respects as the open casket was laid at the Stark County courthouse. Nearly 100,000 people were in Canton when President McKinley was moved to a vault at West Lawn Cemetery to await the completion of a memorial in his honor.

In Youngstown, memorial services were held at several locations, including Rayen School. Judge JR Johnson was one of the speakers, saying: “I am not coming today to deliver a eulogy for our late President, but simply to say a few words about him as a neighbor and a friend. He doesn’t need eulogy. The simple story of his life will be his most fitting praise and none will be more eloquent than the tears of heartfelt sadness that are shed today over his untimely death. Born in neighboring Trumbull County, widely raised and educated there, and with his home for most of his adult life in neighboring Stark County, we all knew, respected and loved him as a neighbor. and friend, and thus to know him, to respect him and to love him, our grief is more keen and our feelings towards the crime which took him from us more bitter than if the existing relationship between us had been different and our lives more [sic] widely separated.

The Soldier’s Monument in Youngstown’s central plaza was draped by local firefighters. The column was covered in black and white banners with a portrait of the late president attached. The fence surrounding the monument was also draped in streamers, while a bouquet of red carnations, McKinley’s favorite flowers, was delicately placed at the base of the monument.

The interior of the Youngstown Opera House was draped in black mourning sheets, flowers, and grim sentiment as the crowd paid homage to the fallen statesman with hymns and a military funeral song led by the Youngstown Military Band. Similar services were held in several local churches. Additional tributes included stopping all trains controlled by the Pennsylvania Company. For ten minutes, all work along their vast expansion of lines was brought to a standstill. It was said to be the first time in the history of the railroad that such an event had occurred. The silence coincided with the funeral service in Canton.

• Compiled from The Vindicator Archives by Traci Manning, Curator of MVHS Education

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