Ida Saxton (1847-1907)

213,819pages on
this wiki
Add New Page
Add New Page Talk0
Ida McKinley

In office
March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901
Preceded by Frances Cleveland
Succeeded by Edith Roosevelt

Occupation 29th First Lady of the United States

Ida Saxton McKinley (June 8, 1847 – May 26, 1907), wife of William McKinley, was First Lady of the United States from 1897 to 1901.

Early life and marriage

Ida was born in Canton, Ohio, the elder daughter of James Saxton, prominent Canton banker, and Katherine DeWalt-Saxton. Her grandfather, John Saxton, in 1815 founded The Repository, the city's first and now its only newspaper. A graduate of Brook Hall Seminary, a finishing school in Media, Pennsylvania, Ida was refined, charming, and strikingly attractive when she met William "Bill" McKinley at a picnic in 1867. They did not begin courting until after she returned from a European tour in 1869. While single, she worked for a time as a cashier in her father's bank, a position then usually reserved for men.

William McKinley, aged 27, married Ida Saxton, aged 23, on January 25, 1871, at the First Presbyterian Church in Canton, then still under construction. Following the wedding, performed by the Reverend E. Buckingham and the Reverend Dr. Endsley, the couple attended a reception at the home of the bride's parents and left on an eastern wedding trip.


Possessed of a fragile, nervous temperament, Mrs. McKinley broke down under the loss of her mother and two infant daughters within a short span of time. She developed epilepsy and became totally dependent on her husband. Her seizures at times occurred in public; she had one at McKinley's inaugural ball as governor. Although an invalid the rest of her life, she kept busy with her hobby, crocheting slippers, making gifts of literally thousands of pairs to friends and acquaintances.


Offspring of William McKinley and Ida Saxton (1847-1907)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Katherine McKinley (1871-1876)
Ida McKinley (1873-1873)

First Lady of the United States

President McKinley took great care to accommodate her condition. In a break with tradition, he insisted that his wife be seated next to him at state dinners rather than at the other end of the table. At receiving lines, she alone remained seated. Many of the social chores normally assumed by the First Lady fell to Mrs. Jennie Tuttle Hobart, wife of Vice President Garret Hobart. Guests noted that whenever Mrs. McKinley was about to undergo a seizure, the President would gently place a napkin or handkerchief over her face to conceal her contorted features. When it passed, he would remove it and resume whatever he was doing as if nothing had happened.

The President's patient devotion and loving attention was the talk of the capital. "President McKinley has made it pretty hard for the rest of us husbands here in Washington," remarked Mark Hanna.

Mrs. McKinley travelled to California with the President in May 1901, but became so ill in San Francisco that the planned tour of the Northwest was cancelled.[1]

Later life and death

With the assassination of her husband by Leon Czolgosz in Buffalo, New York in September 1901, Mrs. McKinley lost much of her will to live. Although she bore up well in days between the shooting and the president's death, she could not bring herself to attend his funeral. Her health eroded as she withdrew to the safety of her home and memories in Canton. She was cared for by her younger sister. She survived the president by less than six years, dying on May 26, 1907. She was buried next to him and their two daughters in Canton's McKinley Memorial Mausoleum.

First Ladies National Historic Site - Saxton House

The Saxton House, former home of Ida Saxton McKinley, now part of the First Ladies National Historic Site.


Ida's childhood home, the Saxton House, has been preserved on Market Avenue in Canton. In addition to growing up in the house, she and her husband also lived there from 1878–1891, the period during which the future President McKinley served as one of Ohio's Congressional Representatives. The house was restored to its Victorian splendor and became part of the First Ladies National Historic Site at its dedication in 1998.


External links

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Frances Cleveland
First Lady of the United States
1897 – 1901
Succeeded by
Edith Roosevelt

Sources and notes

‡ General

Also on Fandom

Random Wiki