Sunday, September 14, 2008

President Theodore Roosevelt

On September 14, 1901, at 2:15 A.M., President McKinley died at the Milburne House in Buffalo, New York. Theodore Roosevelt, aboard a horse drawn buckboard carriage, speeding through a dark and rainy night on the rutted dirt road between Tahawus Hunt Club and Aiden Lair, was now the President.

At the train depot in North Creek, shortly after 5:00 A.M., Roosevelt’s secretary, William Loeb, handed TR the telegram from Secretary of State John Hay, informing him of the President’s death. TR jumped immediately up the steps of the special train waiting to take him down the Delaware and Hudson Railroad to Albany and thence to Buffalo. That afternoon, in the Ansley Wilcox Mansion, Judge Hazel administered the Presidential oath of office.

Today, the Wilcox Mansion is a National Historic Site, administered by staff and volunteers dedicated to the preservation of the special history housed there. Having concluded a very successful capital fund drive, the foundation which supports the site is now engaged in completing an extensive renovation and expansion of the Mansion and its new visitor center, fashioned in the architectural spirit of the carriage house once attendant to the property.

Having just visited and seen the tremendous work going on there, I highly recommend that you put the site on your itinerary during your next exploration of this beautiful country and her glorious history.

As the Theodore Roosevelt Association prepares to establish a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Museum and Research Center in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York, it bodes well for the TRA that the person at the helm is Barbara Berryman Brandt of Buffalo. As Chairman of the TRA, Mrs. Brandt is dedicated to seeing that a world class museum results. If past is prologue, she will see the job through in top order.

As a member of the Junior League of Buffalo, Mrs. Brandt was one of the many community leaders who originally saved the Wilcox Mansion from the wrecking ball. Today, she could use your help, not to save a building, but rather, to build one. The TR Museum will perpetuate the memory and the legacy of one of America’s finest men and greatest presidents, that future generations of Americans will know his values and be inspired to get in the arena in service to their fellow citizens. Your interest, support and donations are welcome at

As a postscript, it seems fitting to note that yesterday, September 13th, was the birthday of TR’s oldest son and namesake, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., born at Oyster Bay, Long Island, in 1887. The first child born to TR and his second wife, Edith, Ted would live a life of service, excelling in business, in politics and on the field of battle. Injured in World War I, Ted remained on duty in France through the end of the war. The war ended, Ted’s fellow officers wanted him to serve as the first president of what would become the American Legion. While he played a leading role in establishing the veteran’s organization, he declined the presidency, as he planned to enter New York state politics and wanted the group to thrive without being hindered by political opponents.

In WWII, Ted would return to lead soldiers ashore on D-Day in France, the only General officer to go to shore on that day. Ted died in France later that year of a heart attack. His body and that of his youngest brother, Quentin, killed in France in WWI, lay side by side at the American cemetery in Normandy, an ever living reminder that the Lion’s Pride, in the words of Quentin, did as their father would have them do. Today, Ted’s home, Old Orchard, built behind his father’s home at Sagamore Hill, is a museum, another of the many historic places calling for a visit from you and yours along this tremendous journey.

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