The world was in a state of mourning. The 26th President of the United States had passed away and was in the process of going home. Nowhere was the pain of his death felt more than in Buffalo where the funeral began in the house where he had died. His casket lay in the drawing room of the Milburn House on Delaware Avenue, the silken folds of an American Flag were drawn about the bier. The upper lid of the casket was drawn back and the President's face was in full view for those who were assembled. Red roses, white chrysanthemums and wreaths of purple violets lay at the foot of the bier.

At the doors and windows opening into the library stood soldiers and marines, the guardians of the dead. Before the ceremony, Mrs. McKinley was led into the chamber by her physician, Dr. Rixey, and she sat alone with her husband; the man who had supported and comforted her through all the years of wedded life. Her support was gone, but she had not broken down. Dry-eyed, she gazed upon her husband's face. She did not seem to realize that he was dead.

President Roosevelt arrived and stood near the casket. He hesitated before stepping forward to view McKinley's face. As he gazed on the former Chief Executive, he stood with his head bowed. He stood immobile for quite a long time, the muscles on his chin quivering with grief, tears welling up in his eyes. After some time, he turned and sat in the chair reserved for him. It was clear that although Roosevelt was now President of the United States, he did not wish to become president under these circumstances.

While other political dignitaries paid their last respects to McKinley, his wife sat alone at the head of the stairs; a wan, white figure in a black gown, listening to every spoken word, to hymns and prayers. After some time, the quiet strains of "Nearer, My God, to Thee," one of McKinley's favorite hymns, were heard coming from the house. The scene was beyond expression.

When the casket left the Milburn House, the band posted across the street played "Nearer, My God, to Thee." After the casket was placed in the hearse, the procession started out on their long drive to Buffalo's City Hall. In the first carriage rode President Roosevelt and Secretary Root, among others. Next was the hearse, drawn by four great, black horses. Walking beside the hearse were active pallbearers, the soldiers and marines and a detail of the Grand Army of the Republic following close behind.

The funeral procession left the Milburn house at 11:45 in the morning. Slowly and silently it moved through Buffalo between the two huge masses of men, women and children that lined the streets. It was only two miles from the Milburn house to City Hall, nevertheless it took nearly two hours to cover the distance. It was reported that fully fifty thousand people saw the funeral procession. People were packed into windows, perched on roofs, massed on verandas, and compressed into solid masses covering the broad sidewalks and grass plots.

When the procession arrived at City Hall, a dome of black bunting was draped over the spot where the coffin was to lie, within which hung straight down above the coffin four American flags, forming with their lower edges a cross which pointed to the four points of the compass. The casket's upper half was open. The lower half was draped in a flag which were masses of red and white roses. The body of McKinley lay on its back and was clad in a black frock coat, with the left hand resting across the breast. One glance at the face, startling changed from its appearance in life, told the story of the suffering which had been endured.

Then the public was allowed to view the casket. More than twice as many as could hope to get through the lines in that time came from all over Western New York until fully 200,000 were massed during the morning. For nearly ten hours McKinley's body was on display at City Hall. Thousands of people streamed past in two lines which formed faster than they dissolved. By 11:00 that evening, the funeral services in Buffalo were all but over.

On the morning of September 16, 1901, President McKinley left Buffalo the same way he had arrived; by train. At 8:30am, the Pennsylvania Railroad funeral train pulled out of the Exchange Street Station and made its way to Washington. As the train left the depot and the sharp bursts of the locomotive's exhaust permeated into the morning air, the city of Buffalo was left behind to emotionally deal with one of the darkest moments in its
history. A dark spot was cast on the Pan-American Exposition. It was almost forgotten that the great fair was still in progress.