Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Happy Birthday, Ida McKinley!

Tomorrow (June 8th) would be Ida McKinley’s 159th birthday! The National First Ladies Library will be celebrating her birthday all day. If you will be in the Canton, Ohio area you can join them for an open house and reception from 10 AM to 6 PM. The Saxton House (the ancestral home of Ida McKinley) will have free tours all day and there will be refreshments in the courtyard.

The McKinleys never actually lived at this house (the Saxton House) after they were married, but did stay there for extended amounts of time. Ida's sister, Mary, lived there with her family and when Ida and William were in Canton between congressional terms (or gubernatorial terms), they stayed there and William had an office on the third floor. He wrote the Tariff Bill of 1890 in that house.

Can’t come? Take an online tour of the house in honor of her birthday!

Still not sure? How about some fun facts on Ida McKinley:

  • Ida Saxton was very well educated for her time and being a woman. Her father (James Saxton) believed in educating all of his children. Ida’s education, today, would be the equivalent of a Master’s in Fine Arts. Her father also sent her, her sister, and some other local girls on a educational European tour (8 months long).
  • Ida Saxton actually worked before she got married. When she got back from Europe she went to work in her father’s bank until she married William McKinley when she was 24.
  • Ida and William McKinley had two children, but both died young. Katie, their oldest, died of what was probably typhoid fever at 3 ½. The younger, Ida, died at 4 months old. Ida’s “seizures” started after the birth of her second child, which was an exceptionally difficult delivery.
  • James Saxton gave the McKinleys a house as their wedding gift, 723 N. Market Street in Canton, Ohio. This house is no longer standing. The land it was on now holds the Stark County Library. This house was where McKinley's "front porch" campaigns were held from.
  • Ida McKinley, by her own account, crocheted over 3000 pairs of slippers. She gave these away to charities, who would auction them off to raise money for their causes.
  • Mrs. McKinley was the first presidential wife to have her picture used extensively on campaign buttons.

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