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Portraying a President
February 8, 2018

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When the Poland Historical Society wants to reenact a scene with President William McKinley, they turn to Paul McQueen, who portrays the 25th President for special occasions.

McQueen grew up in West Middlesex, Pa. He served as a Presbyterian Pastor in Alaska, Florida, and on a more local level, Coitsville. He retired as did his wife Deva McQueen, who was also a Presbyterian minister. Seven years ago the retired couple moved to the Village of Poland.

As for portraying a great figure in American History, that task came about during the dedication of the boyhood home historic marker dedication ceremony.

"When we were preparing to dedicate the Ohio Historical marker for McKinley's Boyhood Home in June [2017] we thought he could do a good portrayal of a mature McKinley," said Larry Baughman.. "We were pleased with his portrayal and immediately thought of him again this year."

McQueen said he never set out to be a reenactor, but the more he got into the roll, the more he enjoyed doing it and the more he learned about the former president.

"This acting is new to me," McQueen said. "My [study] of McKinley has since evolved as byproduct. He seems to have been pre-destined. His family seems to have groomed him for leadership."

McQueen was also thrilled to discover McKinley carried strong religious beliefs, which was evident through his personal diary.

"His presidential future was formed at an early age in the Civil War," McQueen said, "His marital life was a challenge with an invalid wife, and losing their two daughters by childhood disease was terrible. Still he was a man of great spiritual strength and composure."

As more historic events take place in Poland Village, residents are sure to see a return of McQueen dressed as the 25th President of the United States. And as was portrayed recently, McQueen will be wearing the scarlet carnation on his lapel, just as McKinley did. In fact, in 1904, Ohio adopted the scarlet carnation as the state flower in memory of McKinley.

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