Saturday, September 06, 2008

Witness to an Assassination

More than sixty years after it happened, Emma Nice Ellis could describe vividly an incident she observed in 1901 - the assassination of the president of the United States.

As a young woman she had visited the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. On September 6 she attended a public reception for President William McKinley in the Temple of Music, where she took her place among hundreds of people waiting in line to shake hands with the chief executive. There were only a few persons ahead of her when she noticed a man, later identified as an anarchist named Leon Czolgosz, whose arm was wrapped in a bandage. Suddenly a shot rang out from a revolver hidden in the bandaged hand.

The president was rushed to a hospital where he died several days later. The assassin was taken into custody, and Emma Nice was among the people questioned for first-hand reports of the shooting. She described the event as an "awful experience."

The following year Emma was married to a student named Charles Calvert Ellis who would become a professor, and later president, of Juniata College. Upon his retirement as president of Juniata College, their son Calvert N. Ellis succeeded his father as president of Juniata for the next 25 years. Together, father and son served in the office from 1930-1968.

It must have been enough to have made Emma - witness to an assassination - proud.

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia