The Akron Beacon Journal had an article about Theodore Roosevelt’s surprise visit to farmers in Tallmadge a 100 years ago:Two well-dressed gentlemen made an unexpected visit as Tallmadge farmer Frank Thomas stacked straw on a quiet spring evening.
Thomas was laboring atop a small mountain of grain when he glanced down and noticed a tall stranger peering up.
``Good evening,'' the lanky fellow said. ``Would you like to meet the president of the United States?''
The farmer slid down the stack to investigate. Surely someone was pulling his leg.
There stood a short, stocky man in formal attire -- definitely out of place for cow country. He had a thick mustache, wide grin and pince-nez glasses.
``Delighted,'' President Theodore Roosevelt said as he shook the farmer's hand.
Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks, the tall companion, introduced himself. The men had been enjoying a brisk hike and needed to take a breather.
Their unannounced visit May 29, 1907, was a pleasant surprise in local history. Farmers couldn't believe their eyes 100 years ago as the U.S. leaders strolled down a country lane with a Secret Service agent lagging behind at a respectful distance.
Earlier that afternoon, Roosevelt and Fairbanks had attended the Canton funeral of former first lady Ida Saxton McKinley. Roosevelt (1858-1919), a former vice president, rose to office after President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901.
The article then goes on to tell use about Roosevelt's visit to the Thomas farm:
Roosevelt, 48, stood 5-foot-8 and weighed 200 pounds, but still outpaced Fairbanks, 55, who had longer strides at 6-foot-4.
They were sweating by the time they crossed Brittain Road into southwest Tallmadge. That is when they spotted Frank Thomas on his straw stack.
``I won't forget the visit,'' Thomas told the Akron Press. ``No, sir. Never.''
After shaking off his initial surprise, the farmer offered some country hospitality.
``Don't you want a drink of fresh milk?'' he asked the men.
``Yes, I do,'' Roosevelt replied.
Thomas excused himself and came back with a cool glass from the farmhouse cellar. His family followed him outside to meet the distinguished guests.
``I will never forget the expression made by the president when he finished the milk,'' Thomas said.
``By gosh,'' Roosevelt told him. ``That's good milk!''
The Thomas children tossed a ball around with the president until the hikers bid farewell.
Roosevelt and Fairbanks visited two more farms that day and Roosevelt sent a note to them all from DC:
Roosevelt and Fairbanks boarded the train and it chugged off to Indianapolis. The next day, the president spoke to a crowd of 150,000 people.
In Tallmadge, the excitement of the presidential visit subsided -- until a large flat package arrived at the Wuchter home.
Inside was a White House letter dated June 1, 1907. Enclosed were autographed portraits of Teddy Roosevelt.
``My Dear Mr. Wuchter: I send you three photographs -- one for yourself and the other two I will ask you to give to the two Mr. Thomases (Frank and David) at whose farms I stopt,'' Roosevelt wrote.
``One of them gave me a glass of milk and the other had four such nice sons. Give my regards to your wife and all the Mr. and Mrs. Thomases and the other friends I met. Sincerely yours, Theodore Roosevelt.''
I hope you enjoyed this little local story. I especially liked it because it is so completely typical for Teddy Roosevelt's personality!