Historical Society celebrates McKinley’s 175th birthday

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.The historical society placed a number of imformative pieces around a table about McKinley's life at the 175th birthday celebration for the former president.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.The Poland Historical Society celebrated the 175th birthday of president William McKinley at Poland Town Hall on Jan. 29. McKinley was born in Niles and lived much of his early life in Poland. Pictured, David Smith welcomed people to the celebration.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.The Poland Historical Society provided hot chocolate and cake for McKinley's birthday celebration. Those who attended the event sang happy birthday and Paul McQueen blew out the candles on the cake.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Paul McQueen took on the role of William McKinley and read a speech he gave to 300 citizens of Poland on his front porch in Canton. In the speech, he thanked Poland and its residents.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Village Council member Sam Moffie spoke at McKinley's birthday celebration. He read a letter written by Mayor Timothy Sicafuse. Members of the historical society also spoke during the event, giving information about McKinley's life.

By ZACK SHIVELY

zshively@vindy.com

The Poland Historical Society honored William McKinley at Poland Town Hall on Jan. 29, what would have been McKinley’s 175th birthday.

Multiple people spoke about the former president’s life and his connection to Poland. They celebrated with cake and hot chocolate and had a McKinley impersonator there to speak.

David Smith welcomed everyone to the program and gave an introduction to the event. Then, Village Council member Sam Moffie read a message from Mayor Timothy Sicafuse, who could not attend the event due to other obligations.

Ted Heineman and Larry Baughman spoke about McKinley’s life in Poland. Heineman focused on his early life in Poland. The future president moved to Poland from Niles and spent days swimming in Yellow Creek. He attended school at the Poland Academy and graduated in 1959.

Baughman centered his piece on McKinley’s later life fighting in the Civil War. He read excepts from McKinley’s war diary that he kept while serving under commander and future president Rutherford B. Hayes. McKinley studied law at Allegheny College and went on to a life in politics.

Paul McQueen, under the guise of William McKinley, gave a speech that McKinley gave at his house in Canton for 300 Poland residents while campaigning for the presidency in 1896. In the speech, he thanked Poland and its residents and demonstrated his love for his life in Poland.

McQueen enjoyed performing as McKinley and researching about his life. The historical society approached him about portraying the former president. They helped him with learning about McKinley, such as that he often wore a carnation pinned to his suit. He said it was nice to see that people appreciated his performance, though he said McKinley was not an easy person to emulate.

“He faced some very real challenges in his life,“ McQueen said. The president’s only two children died young and his wife suffered from the trauma of losing the children.

Smith finished the informative section of the event. He talked about McKinley’s tenure as president. The Treaty of Paris gave control of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines to the United States. McKinley also annexed Hawaii. He ended the Spanish-American War and passed the Gold Standard Act as well.

Anarchist Leon Czolgosz assassinated McKinley in 1901 during his second term in office. This ushered in the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, McKinley’s vice president.

After the presentation, the historical society offered cake and hot chocolate for those at the event. The group sang “Happy Birthday to You“ and McQueen blew out the candles on the cake. The attendees could walk around the room and look at the different informational texts about McKinley that the historical society had laid out.

Smith said they do these types of events because they “believe that it is important to preserve and promote the history of the township and village,” and president McKinley has an important role in that history.

The Poland Historical Society offers walking tours of the historical district and the graveyard where many early pioneers are buried. The “little red schoolhouse“ acts as their museum, located on the intersection of Center Road and Struthers Road on Route 224.

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