Category Archives: Assassination

Famous Faces

1865 image of President Abraham Lincoln's funeral train. Used with permission of The 2015 Lincoln Funeral Train.

1865 image of President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train. Used with permission of The 2015 Lincoln Funeral Train.

I have been keeping an informal, penciled list on a folder for some months, of all the famous individuals who visited Wellington during the nineteenth century. I thought it might be fun to share as a post. I will add to this compilation if I discover additional names.

The image above shows the funeral train of President Abraham Lincoln, assassinated in 1865. I wrote recently about the replica train now under construction. The original train, carrying the president’s remains, traveled through Wellington on April 29, 1865. Huge crowds turned out at two o’clock in the morning, in a driving rain, to see the slain leader pass.

President Rutherford B.  Hayes (1822-1893). Image from Wikipedia.

President Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893). Image from Wikipedia.

Rutherford B. Hayes was close friends with local businessman Sidney Sardus Warner. Hayes gave a speech in Wellington after taking office as Governor of Ohio in 1868. He and wife Lucy Hayes were frequently mentioned in the local newspaper, particularly after they left the White House in 1881, visiting the village by rail. Some of Warner’s personal papers are now housed at the Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio. Warner’s daughter, Orrie Louisa, was a guest of Mrs. Hayes in Washington D. C. during the 1881 inauguration of James Garfield.

President James A. Garfield (1831-1881). Image from Wikipedia Commons.

President James A. Garfield (1831-1881). Image from Wikipedia Commons.

I have written about Garfield’s connections to Wellington. He visited the village at least twice prior to his election to the presidency. In November 1860, he dedicated the Disciples Church, still standing at 123 Union Street. Nearly two decades later he returned, in the autumn of 1879, to give a political speech at the (second) Town Hall.

President William McKinley (1843-1901). Image from Wikipedia Commons.

President William McKinley (1843-1901). Image from Wikipedia Commons.

Lincoln and Garfield were the two U. S. presidents murdered in the nineteenth century; William McKinley was the first of two to be assassinated in the twentieth. McKinley had a lengthy political career in Ohio, including serving as governor, prior to being elected to the White House in 1896. He spoke in Wellington while running for Congress in 1884, and made a whistle stop in the village during his successful campaign for a second presidential term in 1900.

Belgian actress Mlle. Rhea, born Hortense-Barbe Loret (1845-1899). From "The Cabinet Card Gallery" Blog.

Belgian actress Mlle. Rhea, born Hortense-Barbe Loret (1845-1899). From The Cabinet Card Gallery.

Mademoiselle Rhea may not be a household name now, but she was quite a famous actress in the late 1800s. I described her performances at the 1886 opening of the Opera House in a previous post.

Horace Greeley (1811-1872). Image from Wikipedia.

Horace Greeley (1811-1872). Image from Wikipedia.

Horace Greeley is the newspaper editor and political activist who famously wrote, “Go West, young man,” in support of America’s territorial expansion, our so-called “Manifest Destiny.” He spoke before the Wellington Lecture Association in February 1861. His topic was “America West of the Mississippi,” and drew a very large audience despite inclement weather.

Frederick Douglass (c. 1818-1895). Image from Wikipedia.

Frederick Douglass (c. 1818-1895). Image from Wikipedia.

Frederick Douglass was one of the most famous authors and public speakers of nineteenth-century America. He gave a lecture in town in the spring of 1868. “The Colored Orator of world wide reputation” was invited by the Wellington Reading Room Association. “Don’t fail to hear Fred Douglass on Friday,” cautioned The Lorain County News, “We do not often have an opportunity of hearing as distinguished a man as Fred” (3-25-1868, pg. 3).

Salmon P. Chase (1808-1873). Image from Wikipedia Commons.

Salmon P. Chase (1808-1873). Image from Wikipedia Commons.

Salmon P. Chase served as a senator and governor of Ohio, U. S. Treasury Secretary, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during his long career. He passed through Wellington while traveling to Columbus by train in June 1860. Chase had lost the presidential nomination to Abraham Lincoln at the Republican National Convention in Chicago just one month earlier. It was a heavy blow to his pride, particularly since the defection of several Ohio delegates in support of Lincoln began the turn of the overall political tide in his favor. Still, the notice of Chase’s brief visit quotes him as saying that “the administration of Abraham Lincoln would be characterized by its honesty and ability” (The Lorain County News, 6-13-1860, pg. 3). For those interested in a deeper exploration of what Chase privately thought of Lincoln (spoiler alert: not much) I highly recommend Doris Kearns Goodwin’s excellent Team of Rivals.

The Liberty Bell. Image from Wikipedia.

The Liberty Bell. Image from Wikipedia.

Not a person, I realize, but an iconic object nonetheless. The Liberty Bell stopped in Wellington on April 27, 1893, on its way to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The bell was traveling via train on the Big Four railway line, so Mayor George Couch wrote to the committee organizing the exposition (of which Charles Horr’s brother was conveniently a member) and asked that the train stop here. The village organized a series of celebratory activities, including a parade of student scholars, a welcome address, and a public viewing of the famous visitor. The train depot was decorated patriotically and local photographers H. H. Saunders & Son took an image of the bell that they later offered in print form for $0.25 to $0.50. The visit lasted thirty minutes.

UPDATE: The eagle-eyed among you will note that I have removed the image and text related to Mark Twain. Subsequent research uncovered the fact that the person who arrived in Wellington in June 1868 and introduced himself as the famous author was, in fact, a charlatan. “Twain” agreed to deliver a lecture at the Methodist Church, going so far as to announce it via a letter published in The Wellington Enterprise. But when he was told that a visitor from California was in the village whose husband knew the celebrity, “Twain” caught the next train out of town, leaving behind an unpaid hotel bill “and five cents for a collar at Shrier’s” (The Lorain County News, 6-24-1868, pg. 3). As Mark Twain famously did not observe, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Lincoln’s Funeral Train

1865 image of President Abraham Lincoln's funeral train. Used with permission of The 2015 Lincoln Funeral Train.

1865 image of President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train. Used by permission of The 2015 Lincoln Funeral Train.

“Quite a large number of our citizens visited Cleveland on Friday last, to look upon the remains of our lamented President, and a still larger number were at the depot in this place, at 2 o’clock, A. M., on Saturday, to catch a glimpse of the flying train which is conveying the remains to its final resting place. The large fires built about the depot grounds afforded sufficient light for all to see the beautiful train as it glided slowly past. We know of nothing else that would have induced so many men, women and children to have left their beds and gone through the drenching rain to the depot. These circumstances will be handed down to our children and children’s children, when the name of Abraham Lincoln, blended with that of George Washington, shall illuminate the bright page of American history, years after those who viewed them are sleeping in the dust” (The Lorain County News, 5-3-1865, pg. 3).

Next year marks the one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Days after his tragic death, the slain leader was placed on a special train that carried him from Washington, D. C. to Springfield, Illinois for burial. Accompanying him on that final journey were the remains of his son, Willie, who had died in 1862 at the age of eleven, possibly of typhoid fever.

I was absolutely delighted to learn recently that a not-for-profit group is meticulously recreating the funeral train, with the intention of retracing the nearly 1,700 mile route next year. Lincoln’s train came through Wellington in the early morning hours of April 29, 1865 and the current plan calls for the replica train to pass through town around the same date.

To raise awareness of the event, and raise funds to underwrite its costs, the Leviathan 63, a replica of the engine that pulled the funeral train, will be coming to Wellington next month, April 2014. Details will be publicized very soon, but as I understand it, rides and photography opportunities will be offered for a nominal fee. If you are as keen to participate in these events as I am, keep an eye on these sites: the Lake Shore Railway Association; 2015 Lincoln Funeral Train Facebook page; 2015 Lincoln Funeral Train Twitter feed.

Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, depicted in "The Lorain County News," 7-25-1860, pg. 2.

Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, depicted in “The Lorain County News,” 7-25-1860, pg. 2.

The Future Before Him

President William McKinley, photographed ca. 1870-1880. Image from Wikipedia Commons.

President William McKinley, photographed ca. 1870-1880. Image from Wikipedia Commons.

Ohio is sometimes referred to as “Mother of Presidents,” because it has been the birthplace of more presidents than any other state in the union. To date, eight of the forty-four chief executives have hailed from the Buckeye State. What is not spoken of quite as often is the fact that four of those eight died in office, and among them are not one, but two assassinated leaders.

I wrote in a previous post about Ohio-born James A. Garfield and his connections to Wellington. He visited the village on at least two occasions, namely at a church dedication ca. 1860 and a speaking event in 1879. After publishing that post, I located a brief notice describing Garfield’s later visit: “Gen [sic] Garfield was in town a short time Monday morning, on his way to Sullivan, where he addressed the mass meeting. There is a great need of voters hearing these able expositions of the questions at issue in the coming election. Such men as Garfield, Monroe and Blaine do not make random assertions, but know whereof they affirm” (The Wellington Enterprise, 10-2-1879, pg. 3).

Garfield was the second U. S. president to be assassinated, following Abraham Lincoln’s murder in 1865. Both men were shot from behind and suffered lingering and painful deaths. Garfield lasted some eighty days in agony before passing away on September 19, 1881.

Less than three years after that tragic event stunned the nation, another politician visited little Wellington. This “rising young statesman” was running for Congress in 1884 from the Canton, Ohio district. “Major” William McKinley, as the Enterprise called him, spoke at the (second) Town Hall to a large crowd. The reporter observed “patient, eager attention, sympathetic endorsement in many countenances, frequent hearty responses and at times emphatic applause, particularly when tender and appreciative reference was made to the martyred Garfield” (7-23-1884, pg. 8). It was evident, the piece concluded, that McKinley had “a brilliant future before him.”

President William McKinley making a whistle stop in Wellington, Ohio during his 1900 reelection campaign. Photo 970369 of "Wellington Family Album" Collection, Herrick Memorial Library. Permission to display generously granted by the library.

President William McKinley making a whistle stop in Wellington, Ohio during his 1900 reelection campaign. Photo 970369 of “Wellington Family Album” Collection, Herrick Memorial Library. Permission to display generously granted by the library.

What the audience that night could not know is that McKinley’s brilliant future would, in fact, carry him into the White House in 1897. Nor could they foresee that just six months into his second term, he would become the third American president to be assassinated, when he was shot in Buffalo, New York on September 6, 1901. McKinley would die eight days later of gangrene associated with his bullet wounds.

There is one final Wellington connection to this story. William McKinley was close personal friends with Huntington-born Myron T. Herrick, later Governor of Ohio and Ambassador to France. Herrick was in Buffalo with the president that tragic afternoon, and the two were scheduled to travel to Herrick’s home in Cleveland the following day.

Senator Mark Hanna arriving at Milburn Mansion, where President McKinley was taken after he was shot. The unidentified man on the right is Myron T. Herrick. Image from Wikipedia Commons; first published in "An historic memento of the nation's loss," by Richard H. Barry (1901), pg. 30.

Senator Mark Hanna arriving at Milburn Mansion, where President McKinley was taken after he was shot. The unidentified man on the right is Myron T. Herrick. Image from Wikipedia Commons; first published in “An historic memento of the nation’s loss,” by Richard H. Barry (1901), pg. 30.

Myron T. Herrick had been considered as a vice-presidential candidate under both William McKinley and his successor, Theodore Roosevelt. Had he secured his party’s nomination to that office, Wellington’s Herrick Memorial Library would have an even more august pedigree.

Death of a President

Death announcement for President James A. Garfield. "The Wellington Enterprise," 9-21-1881, pg. 2. Photo by author.

Death announcement for President James A. Garfield. “The Wellington Enterprise,” 9-21-1881, pg. 2. Photo by author.

There have been four presidential assassinations in United States history; two occurred in the nineteenth century and two in the twentieth. As our nation pauses today to remember the tragic death of John F. Kennedy, I am reminded of the cowardly shooting of another chief executive, James A. Garfield. Born in Ohio on November 19, 1831, Garfield had several connections to Wellington and the small town felt personally touched by his loss.

President James A. Garfield, ca. 1870-1880. Image from Wikipedia Commons.

President James A. Garfield, ca. 1870-1880. Image from Wikipedia Commons.

I am not going to review Garfield’s entire life history. Those curious to know more about his early years or political career can find an overview of it here. Garfield was an ordained minister and an elder of the Disciples of Christ Church. He attended the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, an educational institution founded by the Disciples and later renamed Hiram College. After completing his own education, Garfield served as the principal–what would today be called the president–of the institute, from 1857 until he left to serve in the Civil War in 1861.

It was in his capacity as head of the school and minister that Garfield came to Wellington to dedicate a new Disciples Church. Ernst Henes claims in Historic Wellington Then and Now that “if it is not the only church to be dedicated by a U. S. president certainly it is among the very few” (pg. 18). Garfield is, to date, the only member of the clergy to serve as president.

I have seen several sources that date the Wellington dedication to 1859; the church itself, now called Christ Community Church, claims it occurred on October 5, 1860. The Lorain County News recorded on November 7, 1860 that the dedication occurred “Sunday last” (pg. 3). The serving minister at the time was The Reverend Samuel Willard, father of painter Archibald Willard; the family moved frequently as Samuel was reassigned to new congregations, and had only settled in Wellington a few years prior to Garfield’s visit.

Christ Community Church, originally called Church of Christ or Disciples of Christ. 123 Union Street, Wellington, Ohio. Photo by author.

Christ Community Church, originally called Church of Christ or Disciples of Christ. 123 Union Street, Wellington, Ohio. Photo by author.

Garfield returned to the village in September 1879. He apparently spoke at Wellington’s (third) Town Hall and John Houghton wrote on the occasion of his funeral that “General Garfield…[was] a strong man, with a physical frame that promised as many more years of usefullness [sic] in public life as he had already given. Who could have imagined such a career for him as was to be crowded into two years that have just closed?” (The Wellington Enterprise, 9-28-1881, pg. 2).

When Garfield ran for president in 1880, the predominantly Republican town backed him and his running mate enthusiastically. The Enterprise reported, “As you pass Horr & Huckins’ box factory put on your specks and note the beautiful streamer and the sound sentiment thereon displayed, ‘Solid for Garfield and Arthur,’ and then, on the 2d of November, go and do likewise. This applies to Democrats as well as Republicans” (10-14-1880, pg. 3).

Just four months into his term, on July 2, 1881, James Garfield was shot in the back and arm while walking through a Washington D. C. train station. His assailant was Charles Guiteau, a mentally unbalanced individual who believed that Garfield owed the winning of the 1880 election to his (imaginary) efforts and demanded an appointment as United States consul to Paris as a reward. Since he had absolutely no qualifications to fill such a position, Guiteau’s application was denied and he sought revenge through violence.

Much has been written about Garfield’s lingering and painful death. An outline of the basic facts can be found here. News of the attack spread very quickly across the country, but the first printed record appeared in the Enterprise on July 7th. During the long, hot summer the newspaper carried weekly updates on Garfield’s condition as he rallied and then declined. Interestingly, because of the way the newspaper was laid out for printing, all updates on the assassination (including Guiteau’s trial and 1882 execution) were found on page two. Only an occasional reprint of an article from a larger city paper made the front page.

Garfield eventually passed away late in the evening of September 19, 1881. Coverage appeared in the Enterprise just two days later. The world was such a different place at that time that Vice President Chester A. Arthur was at home in New York when Garfield finally died and had to be informed via telegram that he was now president. On October 5, 1881, an engraved image of the new national leader appeared on the front page of Wellington’s paper; though the first photograph appeared in an American newspaper as early as 1880, it would be three more decades until it was a common practice.

Engraving of President Chester A. Arthur. "The Wellington Enterprise," 10-5-1881, pg. 1. Photo by author.

Engraving of President Chester A. Arthur. “The Wellington Enterprise,” 10-5-1881, pg. 1. Photo by author.

“Prominent business houses of Wellington are appropriately draped,” the Enterprise reported on September 21st. President Garfield’s body was moved by train to Ohio for burial. The citizens of Wellington organized their own memorial services. The commemorations at the Methodist, Congregational, and Disciple Churches were summarized in the newspaper; the speaker at the Disciple Church noted that Garfield “had preached at the dedication of the church in Wellington just twenty-one years before the day of this funeral,” which seems to confirm the church’s assertion that the event happened in 1860.

The village also hosted a public service, officiated by Mayor John Wilbur, and featuring speakers including Charles Horr and his brother Senator Roswell Horr, Edward Tripp, and Watson Wean. Perhaps the most moving remarks were offered by black businessman R. J. Robinson, who ran a bakery in town. Robinson “spoke of the peculiar bitterness of bereavement brought about by an assassin’s hand. He knew what it was by experience. A son of his had been killed that way some years ago in Kentucky” (The Wellington Enterprise, 9-28-1881, pg. 2).

James A. Garfield Memorial at Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio. Image from Wikipedia Commons.

James A. Garfield Memorial at Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio. Image from Wikipedia Commons.

James A. Garfield was buried at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio. He died just two months prior to his fiftieth birthday, making him the second youngest president to die in office. The youngest was John F. Kennedy.