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AGING LEDGER PRESERVES DETAILS OF MCKINLEY FUNERAL PREPARATIONS

In the early hours of Sept. 14, 1901, Buffalo undertaker George E. Drullard was charged with a daunting task.

He was to tend to the body of President William McKinley, who had died at 2:15 a.m. in the home of Pan-American Exposition President John G. Milburn.

"You can just imagine the people around that night, and the stress on Mr. Drullard," said Kenmore funeral director D. Lawrence Ginnane -- who owns Drullard's records of that somber time.

"The autopsy, the embalming, the casket, the laying out and preparation of the remains -- they're all here," Ginnane noted of the handwritten entries in an aging ledger of funerals performed at the turn of the century by Drullard and his then-partner, Harry J. Koch.

Perhaps most fascinating is the cost -- a total of $2,104.15 for everything, including Drullard's travel with the McKinley entourage from the Milburn House to Buffalo City Hall, the White House, the Capitol Rotunda and, finally, McKinley's home in Canton, Ohio, where the final service was held and the president buried.

Drullard's records, written in a handsome pen-and-ink cursive, show a charge of $1,300 for the casket, apparently copper with wood trim and an engraved silver plate bearing McKinley's name and dates. Embalming was $100; a hearse drawn (twice) by four black horses, $40.

"A copper casket today would run $7,000 to $8,000," noted Ginnane. "Embalming would be $350 to $400, and hearse livery about $180."

Drullard's records show that the undertaker had five men assisting all day, from attendance at the autopsy to the embalming and preparation for viewing and transport.

Listed is a $10 charge for a fresh shave for the deceased president; $10 for dressing and laying out his remains; $5 for crepe and ribbons for the Milburn House door; another $5 for two dozen armbands; $42 for 21 pairs of kid gloves; $20 for the rental of 250 chairs . . .

The cost for the casket's train transportation from Buffalo's Union Station to points beyond was $285. Undertaker services, including the work of assistants to Drullard, came to $250.

Ginnane, who shares ownership of the historic Drullard ledger with his partners in the Ginnane Funeral Home -- his wife, Sheila J., and their son, Lawrence J. -- inherited it after taking over the Kenmore funeral home of Emmett W. Burns in 1977.

Burns, who died in 1982, had operated the Legg & Burns Funeral Home in Buffalo before establishing his own Emmett W. Burns Funeral Home at 3215 Delaware Ave., Kenmore. T. Arthur Legg, before partnering with Burns, had been in business with Drullard.

The Ginnanes recently turned down a request to donate the ledger to the Historical Society.

"The records will stay with the funeral home," Ginnane said. "They need to be restored, and secured, but they will stay here. They belong to the funeral home."

Drullard's records show the cause of McKinley's death as "gangrene of both walls of stomach and pancreas following gunshot wound," attributing this to physicians Harvey R. Gaylord and H.G. Matzinger and coroner James F. Wilson.

A private service was held for McKinley at the Milburn House on the morning of Sept. 15, 1901, after which the casket was taken by horse-drawn hearse to City Hall (now known as Old County Hall).

McKinley's body lay in state there and was viewed by thousands of mourners until midnight, when the horse-drawn hearse bore the casket to Union Station for travel to Washington, D.C.

The body was kept overnight at the White House, Drullard's records show, then moved to the rotunda of the Capitol, where it lay in state again. A special train took the president's remains to Canton, Ohio, McKinley's home, the night of Sept. 17.

On Sept. 18, 1901, the president's casket was on view in the Canton Courthouse, then taken to his Canton home on North Market Street and closed for the last time.

The following afternoon, McKinley's funeral was held at First Methodist Church in Canton, followed by burial in West Lawn Cemetery, Canton.

e-mail: kbrady@buffnews.com

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