As Poland residents gathered at President William McKinley's boyhood home on Jan. 29 to commemorate McKinley's 170th birthday, officials announced that they hoped to place an Ohio historical marker at the site.
This week, the Ohio marker arrived and will be placed and dedicated during Celebrate Poland.
According to Dave Smith from Towne One Streetscapes, obtaining the marker wasn't easy. He said the first step was to raise the $2,470 for the marker. While $750 came from a grant from the Ohio Historical Society, the balance had to come from local donors.
Smith said several entities stepped forward to help raise the local share. Towne One Streetscapes, the Poland Historical Society, the Village of Poland, the Poland Preservation Society, and Poland Rotary all chipped in. Smith said the total was close and owners of the Pioneer Trails Tree Farm pitched in to make up the difference.
Although the funds had been raised, there was still a lot of red tape to go through and Smith said it took a lot of research.
"It was a long process," Smith said. "For every fact on the marker, the state required research and footnotes."
Smith and Ted Heinneman from the Poland Historical Society, along with a few other local history buffs, completed the research, added the footnotes, and sent in the application. It was approved and will be presented during Celebrate Poland at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 29.
The marker will be placed near the Home Savings parking lot where McKinley's boyhood home once stood. It was the McKinley family's first home in Poland Village after they moved from Niles because of the schools in Poland. Smith said the home was located at 101 South Main St. and was believed to be a rental. A second home was built further down the street nearer to the mill on Yellow Creek. The third house the family lived in was located in the parking lot of the Home Savings and Loan on Main Street.
In the dedication, Smith said he has a nine-year-old Poland boy who is going to portray McKinley as a youth. He will give a brief speech that was written by McKinley when he was a young lad.
There will also be a Civil War encampment and one young man with the 61st Ohio Volunteer Infantry re-enactment group will also take on the McKinley role. McKinley joined the Union Army (23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry) with several of his Poland Village buddies, including Ira Mansfield, Charles Kirtland, John Nesbitt, James Botsford, Robert Walker, Robert Wilson and Cook Kirtland. All joined during a recruitment in Poland Village and all returned after four years of service except Capt. Wilson who was killed in the battle of Perryville.
"One of the re-enactors is 18 years old," Smith said. "He is going to portray McKinley when he went off to war. He will be reading a page from McKinley's diary."
The final guest speaker will be Paul McQueen, who will give the speech that McKinley gave from his Canton home when a delegation of Poland residents made the long journey there to see him.
After the speakers, the Ohio Historical Marker will be unveiled and officially dedicated. Smith said it will be the 35th Ohio marker to be placed in Mahoning County and the fourth for Poland. In 1982, the first Ohio Historical Marker went in at the Village Green to honor one of Poland's early founders, Turhand Kirtland. In 2007, a marker was added in front of Poland Middle School where McKinley graduated. Four years ago, a third marker went up in front of the Old Stone Tavern where McKinley joined the Army during the Civil War.
"It's been a long process, but it is finally going to happen," Smith said.
Following the dedication, a reception will be held at The Cafe at Wittenauer's.