Many years ago I posed the question to my father-in-law who is a long-time Canton resident how President McKinley‘s home was destroyed. He did not know the answer, but the question remained in the back of my mind for years. When I began as a volunteer at the McKinley Presidential Library in 2003, the question resurfaced and I began to gather information on the house itself, who live there through the years, and what happened that the city of Canton did not save the house. Initially I wrote my findings and they were put on a safe place on the library shelf. Time passes, and one grows old with that passage. Mark Holland, Archivist encouraged me to take another look at what I had written with the idea of expanding it into a book which could be published. We also have the idea that we would form a group of interested local historians to help brainstorm and research. The book and the group began in the summer of 2020. No one expected COVID…And that made our forward progress crawl at times. Now the book is at the halfway point. It tells the story from the beginning of Canton, through the building of the house at 723 North Market Avenue. It shares stories of the various owners, and will tell what finally happened to the only home President McKinley ever owned. The group of historians continues to grow and is an exciting adventure—expanding to explore other Canton families and buildings. Hope to have the finished product soon, Judy Pocock Author The Fall of the House of Mckinley
William McKinley was elected to the first of two terms in 1896. He was sworn in on March 4, 1897 as the nation’s 25th president. He won re-election in 1900. Six months into his second term McKinley visited the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.
On September 6th McKinley, while at the Temple of Music Hall, was in a receiving line shaking hands. A man named Leon Czolgosz, an avowed anarchist, came to the head of the line, and, pulling a gun from beneath a handkerchief, shot McKinley twice. Some accounts say one bullet hit a button and was deflected. The other bullet entered the president’s body.
McKinley was taken by ambulance to the fairground hospital. A doctor cleaned and closed the wound. McKinley convalesced for a few days and it was thought he might recover.
On the morning of September 13 his health quickly deteriorated as gangrene developed and he died on the morning of September 14th, 1901. Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as President of The United States. Czolgosz was quickly tried for murder, found guilty and executed on October 29, 1901.
Sculptor Edward L. A. Pausch Background
Here is where a famous turn of the century sculptor named Edward L.A. Pausch enters into our story. Sculptor Edward Ludwig Albert Pausch was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and immigrated with his family to Hartford Connecticut as a small child. He apprenticed with various sculptors for eleven years in Hartford and New York City. In 1889 he joined with sculptor, James G.C. Hamilton at the Smith Granite Company in Westerly, Rhode Island. James G.C. Hamilton is known to Cantonians as the stone sculptor of the beautiful historic pediment above the entrance of the present Stark County Courthouse, in Canton, Ohio.
Edward Pausch’s most ambitious work, created at the Smith Granite Company is the George Washington Memorial (1889-91) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This is a one and a half-life size equestrian statue depicting Washington as a 23 year old colonel in the French and Indian War.
Pausch is also credited with creating at least seven of the numerous monuments in the Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
According to an article that appeared in the Columbus Dispatch newspaper in 1923 upon William McKinley’s death on September 14, 1901, a New York sculptor, Edward L.A. Pausch, immediately wired McKinley’s secretary, Mr. George B. Cortelyou. He was requesting permission to make a death mask of the dead President. With Mrs. Ida McKinley’s permission, the request was granted and Pausch took the first train that he could catch, reaching Buffalo in time to make the mask in the morning after the death.
Pausch made a mold from a plaster of Paris application to the president’s facial features. The casting was immediately locked up in a safety deposit vault in Buffalo, New York. No photographs were permitted. Three days later it was delivered to Mr. Cortelyou at the White House and was transferred to the Smithsonian National Museum.
Pausch had made a clay model from the plaster of Paris impression and, later in early 1902, Pausch was commissioned by the Postal Union workers of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to make a bronze casting bust of the McKinley death mask affixed to a granite pedestal to be displayed inside the post office in Philadelphia. This commission was paid for by the postal employees who wished to honor President McKinley for his pioneering work in civil service.
When the post office relocated a few years later there was no suitable spot in the new building for displaying this work of art, so it was placed in storage at the Philadelphia Arsenal for 30 years.
The Arsenal was slated to be demolished in 1959 and the question arose as what to do with the bust and pedestal. Several cities sought to obtain it but City of Canton officials heard about the situation and made a pitch to the post office to obtain it. The post office offered the art work to the City of Canton on condition that the City would pay all transportation costs. The Canton Lions Club, a service club stepped up and paid all transportation costs.
The McKinley bust now gracing the front walk of the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum is getting a refurbishment. The Museum contacted a company of Canton and they sandblasted the bust and treated the surface of the bronze with 3 coats of preservative.
The beautiful Pausch sculpture commissioned by the Philadelphia Postal Union workers in 1902 will hopefully celebrate the memory of President William McKinley for many more generations to come.
George Washington Memorial by Edward Ludwig Albert Pausch (1856-1931) – Allegheny Commons Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Dedicated on Feb. 23, 1891. The head of this piece copied after Houdon’s George Washington in the Virginia State House in Richmond, Virginia.
Who built the McKinley Campaign house that sat where the main branch of the Stark County District Library sits today? Where was it moved? How was the upstairs bathroom remodeled by H. R. Jones? What did Mrs. McKinley’s personal suite look like? ￼Did President McKinley really live in the house?
For almost two years a great group of friends and volunteers of our museum have met in the library every week on Fridays from 10:00 am to noon. We are helping longtime Library Volunteer, Judy Pocock research for an eventual book she is writing with a working title: The Fall of The House of McKinley. Stay tuned for more posts on this very informative, much needed book on a little cottage in Canton, Ohio that had the eyes of the world watching.
On December 26, 1884, millionaire Cornelius Aultman died suddenly. His widow Katherine Barron Reybold Aultman wanted to create Stark County’s first hospital in memory of her late husband, as it was an unfilled aspiration of his.
From left to right: Cornelius Aultman, Katherine Barron Reybold Aultman, and Elizabeth Harter.
She proposed the idea to his daughter, Elizabeth Aultman Harter. Elizabeth agreed to help her step-mother fulfill this plan in honor of her father. In 1891, the two women provided funding and 4.5 acres of land for the medical center.
Once it was complete, the hospital could accommodate up to 70 patients, larger than any other hospital in a city of Canton’s size at this time. Sitting at its current location of 2600 6th Street Southwest, the Aultman Memorial Hospital opened on January 17, 1892. However, the hospital did not receive its first patient until February 5 of that year. Aultman Hospital is still serving Stark County to this day. According to their most recent annual report available, the hospital cared for over 650,000 patients in 2018 alone.
Designed and built by Cornelius Aultman in 1869, sold to George D. Harter, and later passed onto Elizabeth Harter in 1885, the Aultman-Harter Mansion was a social hub of Canton, Ohio.
From left to right: Elizabeth Harter, Cornelius Aultman, and George DeWalt Harter.
In her adult life, Elizabeth was fondly thought of as the unofficial hostess of Canton. Located at 933 North Market Avenue, this mansion would be the site of many gatherings and social events. While Cornelius was still living, he hosted several presidents and important political figures at the mansion, including Rutherford B. Hayes, Ulysses S. Grant, James A. Garfield, and good family friend William McKinley.
Elizabeth would continue her father’s trend after the assassination of President McKinley. For the two days after McKinley’s death, Elizabeth’s home became the temporary residence and office of President Theodore Roosevelt.
The Harter family’s home, located at 723 North Market Avenue, would eventually be the site of William McKinley’s famous “Front Porch Campaign.” Before McKinley campaigned here, and before the Harters lived here, Elizabeth’s father Cornelius Aultman and step-mother Katherine Barron Reybold Aultman resided at 723 North Market for three years, from 1868 to 1871. The couple lived here while they waited for the completion of the Aultman mansion.
From left to right: Elizabeth Aultman Harter, the Harter home during William McKinley’s front porch campaign, and Cornelius Aultman.
In 1871, The Aultman couple moved out of the house and future president William McKinley rented the home for over two years. From 1873 to 1899, Elizabeth and husband George DeWalt Harter, owned the home. The Harter family resided here for twelve of the twenty-six years they owned it, until 1885 when they moved to the Aultman-Harter Mansion. Finally, in 1896 presidential candidate William McKinley rented the Harter home for his “Front Porch Campaign.” During this campaign, citizens would gather on the front yard of the Harter home to hear William McKinley perform his speeches literally from the front porch.
In 1868, Elizabeth became engaged to George DeWalt Harter, the son of well-established Canton banker Isaac Harter Senior, and a banker himself. George was also the first plant manager of Cornelius Aultman’s Mansfield factory. In March 1869, the two married and Elizabeth Aultman became Elizabeth Harter. In January 1870, the two had their first child, Eliza, named after Elizabeth’s mother. The newlywed couple was wrought with grief when their daughter passed away at only six months old. Over the next seventeen years, Elizabeth and George had five more children, consisting of four girls and one boy. Their only son, Cornelius Aultman Harter, passed when he was only four years old on May 17, 1880. On December 8, 1890, George Harter’s death made Elizabeth the sole parent of four daughters, aged 19, 12, 10, and 3. In addition to her professional responsibilities with inheriting her late husband’s business interests, Elizabeth now had to raise four young women on her own.
Elizabeth Aultman Harter’s involvement in her father Cornelius Aultman’s business was exceptional for a few reasons. First, it was rare for women to be involved in business operations, let alone at the level Elizabeth would reach in her lifetime. Secondly, Elizabeth was only nineteen in 1867 when she began serving on the board of directors for the farm equipment manufacturer Aultman & Taylor Company in Mansfield, Ohio. Despite the common attitude towards women working at this time, her father was incredibly proud and encouraging of his only child.
For over fifty-five years, from 1866 to 1924, Elizabeth was an integral part of the Aultman Taylor Company’s success in the farming machinery industry. Additionally, following the passing of her father and her husband, George DeWalt Harter, Elizabeth inherited their fortunes, along with their responsibilities. Because of this, Elizabeth took on leadership roles at various business and banking institutions.
A C. Aultman & Co. fashion trade card, one from a set of four. The front of these cards commemorated fashion throughout one hundred years prior and the backside advertised the company’s brand of Buckeye Harvesting Machines.
The Genealogy of the Essig Family. Pictured in the bottom left corner, a man uses a Buckeye Binder.
The heading on a piece of Aultman & Taylor Machinery Co. stationary. Mrs. Harter is identified as the vice president of the company in the top left corner of the paper. This heading also features the company’s logo of a starving chicken. It is accompanied by the slogan, “Fattened on an Aultman-Taylor straw stack.” This ironic comment is a reference to the fact that Aultman & Taylor machines leave behind no grain for chickens to feed on.
On May 14, 1847, Elizabeth Aultman Harter was born to Cornelius and Eliza Wise Aultman in Greentown, Ohio. Throughout her life, Elizabeth would leave a lasting legacy here in Stark County. She would serve on the board of directors for her father’s business, the Aultman Taylor Company, and bring great success to the corporation. She would provide the location for future President William McKinley’s front porch campaign and become the close friend of several other presidents. Along with her stepmother Katherine Barron Reybold Aultman, Elizabeth would create Stark County’s first hospital, which is still caring for hundreds of thousands of patients today. She would become the third president of Canton’s YWCA. Another thing that made Mrs. Harter so outstanding is that she, like her father Cornelius Aultman, was one of Cantons greatest ‘silent’ benefactors, putting many young men through college who otherwise would not have had the opportunity. She was also left a young widow and single mother to four children at the age of forty-three. She was a multifaceted woman who fulfilled numerous roles during her life, as well as overcame several devastating hardships. By the time of her passing on October 25, 1932, Elizabeth had reached various achievements throughout her lifetime, exceptional then, and still remarkable to this day.
As part of my internship at the Ramsayer Research Library here at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, I was tasked with creating an exhibit for the display case in the library. The assignment was, “Share a story that needs to be told.” At first, researching possible ideas was overwhelming because there were simply too many stories to tell. After much thought and consideration about what kind of story should be told, the topic presented itself. The women who shaped Canton, Ohio have been largely forgotten in history and their stories need to be shared. Library volunteer Judy Cloud Pocock gave some guidance for this project. She suggested that Elizabeth Aultman Harter be included in the display case exhibit. Once Elizabeth’s life story started to be uncovered, it was clear that she was the woman who the exhibit should focus on.
Elizabeth Aultman Harter was an incredibly accomplished woman— and not just in her time. Her legacy still impresses to this day. Daughter of Canton, Ohio’s first millionaire entrepreneur Cornelius Aultman, Elizabeth left a lasting mark on Stark County. She and her stepmother Katherine Barron Reybold Aultman founded Aultman Hospital here in Canton, Ohio. Elizabeth served on the board of directors at the Aultman Taylor Company in Mansfield, Ohio. She also presided as one of the first presidents of Canton’s YWCA. Another thing that made Mrs. Harter so outstanding is that she, like her father Cornelius Aultman, was one of Canton’s greatest ‘silent’ benefactors, putting many young men through college who otherwise would not have had the opportunity. While she exceled in her professional career, she was also a strong woman in her personal life. When she was just eighteen, Elizabeth lost her birth mother Eliza Wise Aultman after a long-term illness. In her adult life, Mrs. Harter lost her first daughter Eliza when she was just six months old. Later, Elizabeth lost her only son Cornelius A. Harter when he was four. The passing of her husband George DeWalt Harter made Elizabeth a widow and single mother to four daughters by the age of forty-three. However, despite her successes and the hardships she overcame, her memory has faded from history. To bring her back to life, Ramsayer Research Library intern Alyia Marasco has uncovered her legacy to share her story. “Elizabeth Harter’s Lasting Legacy” will be displayed in the Ramsayer Research Library display case. The Library is open Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm for anyone who would like to view this new exhibit.