McKinley memorial

This photo from Sept. 14, 1901 shows the interior of the First Presbyterian Church on the Square in Carlisle as it was decorated with flags and a portrait of William McKinley in the lead-up to a memorial service.

Mourning took the form of outrage among the committee of Carlisle residents organizing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Cumberland County.

It was the evening of Sept. 6, 1901, just hours after anarchist Leon Czolgosz fired two bullets into the abdomen of President William McKinley.

The Sentinel reported the sesquicentennial committee had paused before the start of its business meeting to pass a resolution to condemn what they believed was an attempted assassination. It read in part:

“[The committee] tenders its heartfelt sympathy to the sorrowing wife, the desolate nation and the stricken hearts of the 80 million fellow citizens who loved and trusted the great heart that has received so frightful a blow.”

Mortally wounded, McKinley lingered for about a week before dying on Sept. 14. Four days later, The Sentinel reported that Chief Burgess Q.T. Mickey issued a proclamation in Shippensburg requesting that all buildings be draped in black crepe and the trappings of Old Glory.

Shippensburg area residents crowded into the Lutheran church as stores, factories and businesses of all kinds were shut down in remembrance. The memorial service was followed by the tolling of bells throughout the close-knit community.

Meanwhile, in Mechanicsburg, a similar service was held in front of the high school. There, several pastors gave speeches and the hymns “Lead Kindly Light” and “Nearer My God to Thee” were sung. The Singer Band performed several funeral dirges and bells across town were rung at 2 p.m.