First Lady: 1897 to 1901
Wife of President William McKinley
Born: June 8, 1847 Died: May 26, 1907
Ida Saxton was born in Canton, Ohio, the daughter of James and Catherine Saxton. In her youth, she watched Canton grow from a small village to a wealthy town. She was afforded a good education, graduating from Brooke Hall Seminary, in Media, Pennsylvania. Her father, a banker, gave her a job in his bank. While working in this position, she met and fell in love with Major McKinley. Although he was poor, he was considered a fine person, having a brave Civil War record, and a promising political future. Ida's father gave them a fine wedding on January 25, 1871, and a house as a wedding present.
The McKinley's had two children; Katie who died at the age of four years and Ida who died before she was five months old. Ida became sick and developed epilepsy, which was incurable at this time. When McKinley considered running for President, some thought, his wife would be an impediment. McKinley thought not, and to prove it he gave an enormous party for Ohio Republicans, on the occasion of their silver anniversary. Ida received people for more than six hours straight, experiencing no problems.
In 1897, the McKinley's moved into the White House, and Ida handled her duties as mistress in a fine manner. She developed an interest in clothes and jewels, and attended all entertainments scheduled. President McKinley always sat by his wife at all dinners, and in the event she would have a seizure, he would place a napkin over her face to conceal her effects of the seizure.
In 1901, they attended the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. It was here that President McKinley was shot, however Ida was not present as she had returned early to the house in which they were staying. During the eight days before President McKinley's death, Ida stayed by his side for long periods of time. McKinley, in his last hours was concerned for Ida's well being and hoped that she would receive the proper care. McKinley had no need to worry, as Ida, astonished everyone by appearing with dignity at all the funeral ceremonies.
Ida returned to Canton, Ohio, where she survived almost six years, dying on May 26, 1907.
Copyright ©1990-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.
From The First Ladies of the Unites States by John T. Marck.