Benjamin Harrison (Library of Congress, 1896)

Born: August 20, 1833

Died: March 13, 1901

Married: Caroline Lavinia Scott

Children: Russell Benjamin Harrison, Mary "Mamie" Scott Harrison McKee

Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States, serving from 1889 to 1893. He was born in North Bend, Ohio, a grandson of President William Henry Harrison; he moved to Indianapolis, Indiana at age 21, where he become a prominent politician. During the American Civil War, he served as a Brigadier General in the XX Corps of the Army of the Cumberland. After the war he unsuccessfully ran for the governorship of Indiana, and was later appointed to the U.S. Senate from that state.

A Republican, Harrison was elected to the presidency in 1888, defeating Democratic incumbent Grover Cleveland. His administration is most remembered for economic legislation, including the McKinley Tariff and the Sherman Antitrust Act, and for annual federal spending that reached one billion dollars for the first time, a spending level that cost him a second term.

In 1890, Harrison dedicated the original Saranac Lake High School. See the Saranac Lake High School page for a photo of that event.

About May of 1892, Mrs. Harrison was diagnosed with tuberculosis. The president took his wife to Loon Lake, where she rallied, and he returned to Washington. But by the end of August her situation had deteriorated, and he arrived also in need of rest. Mrs. Harrison asked to be taken home to the White House, and her illness was announced on September 14. Daily bulletins were issued, and on September 21 the couple arrived back in Washington, where Caroline Harrison died on October 25, 1892. 1

The Chicago Journal, 17th September 1892.

Ticonderoga Sentinel, July 14, 1892

The President and Mrs. Harrison arrived at Loon Lake last week and are highly pleased with the cottage where it is confidently hoped Mrs. Harrison will regain health and strength. Loon Lake is a beautiful little lake on the line of the narrow gauge Chateaugay railroad, near the heart of the Adirondacks. Mrs. Harrison seems to be considerably improved since going there. The President left Monday afternoon for Washington; stopping on the way at Saratoga, Tuesday, to attend the meeting of the National Educational Association. He was welcomed by President Cook and Judge Draper of the association, and made a very able address. When he left the hotel at Loon Lake a crowd of little children were gathered in the hall through which he passed to say good-bye to him. The chief executive stopped and shook hands with all of them and then without recognizing anybody else, went out.

Ticonderoga Sentinel, August 4, 1892

The President is suffering, like every one else in Washington, from the heat of the past week, which exceeded that of any other week since an official record of the weather has been kept. As soon as Congress adjourns the President will join Mrs. Harrison at Loon Lake, remaining there until about the last of September, when he will take up his residence at his Cape May Point cottage, where his executive work will go on just the same as if he was at the White House.

Plattsburgh Sentinel, August 5, 1892

—A Loon Lake correspondent says Mrs, Harrison is growing stronger every day, and Dr. Gardiner does not think she is in need of a physician any longer.

—President Harrison is expected at Loon Lake soon, and it is stated that he will take Dr. Webb's road from Malone as it can accommodate his special car.

Elizabethtown Post, August 11, 1892

President Harrison arrived at Loon Lake Saturday. Mrs. Harrison is still quite ill although she has improved to a wonderful degree since her arrival at Loon Lake. The President took a drive with Mrs. Harrison and Mrs. Parker Sunday morning. They were gone about an hour. It is understood that President Harrison is much pleased with what he seen of the Adirondacks

Adirondack News, August 13, 1892

The news that Mrs. Harrison was not making as much progress towards the recovery of her health as had been expected was most sorrowfully received here, and nothing but words of the most heartfelt sympathy for the president and wishes for her speedy return to good health are heard on all sides. Private Secretary Halford is in charge of the White House and no business, unless it be of the most urgent and pressing nature, will be referred to the president while he remains at Loon Lake with Mrs. Harrison.

Plattsburgh Sentinel, September 16, 1892


The coming of the President made no little pleasant excitement, and hundreds of people assembled to see and shake hands with one so honored and respected. Houses and stores were decorated, banners with mottoes displayed, and everything and everybody wore a holiday look. Mr. Harrison drove from Loon Lake to Hotel Ampersand.  Mr. Frank L. Fisher then invited him to take a seat in his private carriage, which, with its handsomely accoutered span of blacks and chestnuts, was elegant enough even for the President. A space had been prepared, where this carriage and many others with their occupants and the great concourse of people found plenty of room. The President was received with cheers. His brief speech was full of good sense and kindliness, and then the people pressed forward to grasp his hand. On the morning of his arrival, Ernest Ayer, one of our young lads hastily gathered a number of his boy friends, furnished them with Harrison caps, and each a starry flag; pressed his sisters and lady cousin into service, to construct a banner, on which was inscribed, "Welcome to Our President." He also secured a beautiful bouquet of flowers of red, white and blue blossoms, and marched at the head of his little company to meet the President. The little band stood in quiet and respectful silence as the President addressed a few kind words to the people, after which the opportunity was given to shake hands with him. The little band waited for the older ones to first enjoy the privilege, and then the young leader advanced and modestly presented his bouquet with the words, "President Harrison please accept with the best wishes of the boys of Saranac Lake." A smile passed over his face, as he answered, "Thank you, boys; thank you.” He evidently appreciated the honor paid him by boys, who will so soon be men, and will hold them in kindly rememberance, as they will him. Mr. Harrison and party, followed by another coach and four, and containing the committee, drove up Lake avenue, to view the lake from that point, and the Saranac Lake House, the Algonquin and Martin's, after which they returned to the Ampersand, and partook of a sumptuous dinner. He also visited the Sanitarium. Later in the day, Mr. Harrison and party returned to Loon Lake, expressing himself pleased with the place, and with his reception.

Watertown Daily Times, 1948 Watertown Daily Times, 1948

AWAITING PRESIDENT HARRISON — Saranac Lake dressed in its best bib and tucker on a warm day in September, 1890, to welcome President Benjamin Harrison to the village. On tour the year after his inauguration, President Harrison stopped off at Saranac Lake and dedicated the second section of the new school building.

In the above picture, which is believed to have been taken by George Baldwin, the camera was set to the left of the speaker's platform, and shows the Berkeley Hotel and several buildings on Main street. Although some have been necessarily altered in the 58 years that have elapsed since this picture was taken, each building pictured above still stands.

Although many attempts were made to identify the people pictured above, only one person, the man under the huge flag, was identified. He was Elmer Dobell, constable and lamp-lighter of that period.

Fowlers Livery, on the left of the picture is now the 300 Taxi company. The building then housed the J. R. Williams Grocery store.

See also: U. S. Presidents



1. William Seale, The President's House, A History (Washington, D.C.: White House Historical Association, with the cooperation of the National Geographic Society, 1986), 599-600.