Lauretta Jameson found a newspaper clipping entitled “McKinley’s Dying Prayer” in an old Bible she received almost two decades ago.
The newspaper clipping is faded, which is no surprise considering that it’s 112 years old. However, the words, about President William McKinley facing death with courage and spiritual grace, are still powerful.
The clipping belongs to Lauretta Jameson.
“I found it in an old Bible that a woman gave me probably 15 or 18 years ago,” she said. “I worked in the Besse Hotel taking care of people. For quite a few years I helped old people with personal care, cooking and cleaning. I’d stay with them till they died.”
One of those people gave her the Bible.
“There are a lot of things in that Bible, and I had it several years before I found the clipping,” Jameson said.
Titled “McKinley’s Dying Prayer,” the clipping tells of the deathbed scene of President McKinley, 25th president of the United States and the last president to have served in the Civil War. He led the nation to victory in the Spanish-American War, raised protective tariffs to promote American industry and was quite popular.
However, during a visit Sept. 6, 1901, to the Pan-American Exposition, in Buffalo, N.Y., was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. He was taken by electric ambulance to the Exposition hospital, and at first it was thought that he was not seriously wounded. However, the bullet remained in his abdomen and the attending doctor, who had little experience in abdominal surgery or treating gunshot wounds, merely cleaned and closed the wound. A primitive X-ray machine on the Exposition grounds might have been able to locate the bullet, but it was not used.
Gangrene spread in the wound and McKinley took a turn for the worse on Sept. 13. By that evening, he regained consciousness.
“It is useless, gentlemen,” he said to the doctors and friends around his bedside. “I think we ought to have prayer.”
According to the clipping, he crossed his hands on his breast and, with a smile on his face, led those present in the Lord’s Prayer.
There are other accounts that he might have sang part of his favorite hymn, “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” The president died at 2:15 a.m. Sept. 14, 1901.
“What got to me was the president calling for prayer,” Jameson said. “I think we ought to have some prayer now, because the country is in a mess.”
However, her own life has been pretty good so far.
“My husband, John, and I have been married for 65 years and we have six sons and four daughters,” Jameson said. “We have 28 grandchildren and our 37th great-grandchild is on the way.”