Dowling Family Genealogy

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  • ID: I0771
  • Name: Ida SAXTON
  • RELA: 4th cousin 3x removed
  • Sex: F
  • Birth: 8 JUN 1847 in Canton, Stark Co., OH
  • Census: 1880 Page 361C, 2nd Ward, Canton, Stark Co., OH
  • Death: 26 MAY 1907 in Canton, Stark Co., OH
  • Burial: McKinley Memorial Mausoleum, Canton, Stark Co., OH
  • Event: Pic First Lady Ida Saxton McKinley
  • Title: First Lady
  • Event: Link View on GeneaStar
  • Event: Video
  • Note:
    Fragile and petite, she was a cashier in her father's bank when she met McKinley, thus making her the first career woman to become First Lady. Because she was nearly an invalid, Mrs. Garret A. Hobart, wife of the vice-president, performed many of the duties in the White House as "second Lady".
    Submitted by Ruth Harlan Lamb
    The 25th President of the United States of America, William McKinley, married Ida Saxton whose great-great-grandmother was Sarah Harlan #209. (Sarah descended from John #44, James #11 and George #3.) Sarah married George Sexton, and their first child was James #809. It was James who changed the last name from Sexton to Saxton. His first child was John #2806, whose first child was James Asbury Saxton #7102, who married Catherine Dewalt. James and Catherine were the parents of Ida Saxton McKinley #10368.
    At the time of her marriage to William McKinley, Ida was working as a cashier in her father's bank in Canton, OH. The McKinleys had two daughters, but one died as an infant and the other daughter died at four years of age. After losing their daughters, the shock and grief overwhelmed Ida and she was an invalid the rest of her life. McKinley was very devoted to her and cared for all her needs.
    McKinley was elected to the House of Representatives in 1876 and was elected governor of Ohio in 1891. In 1896 he was elected President of the United States and re-elected in 1900. Ida was not able to manage the White House because of her illness, so relatives often served as official hostesses. When the President stood in receiving lines at receptions, she usually sat in a chair beside the President. It is said that the couple was very devoted to each other and enjoyed long drives in their horse-drawn carriage. According to the World Book Encyclopedia, McKinley seated his wife next to him during official dinners so he could help her if necessary. Protocol directed that the President's wife sit across the table from him, but he ignored this social rule.
    McKinley was fatally wounded in 1901 after speaking at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY, but managed to say to his secretary, "My wife?be careful how you tell her?oh be careful." His wife Ida was at the home of the president of the Exposition and did not learn of the shooting for several hours. She was so shocked that she never returned to the White House and didn't attend the burial. Ida lived her remaining years in Canton, OH, and died in 1907.
    Biography: There was little resemblance between the vivacious young woman who married William McKinley in January 1871--a slender bride with sky-blue eyes and fair skin and masses of auburn hair--and the petulant invalid who moved into the White House with him in March 1897. Now her face was pallid and drawn, her close-cropped hair gray; her eyes were glazed with pain or dulled with sedative. Only one thing had remained the same: love which had brightened early years of happiness and endured through more than twenty years of illness.
    Ida had been born in Canton, Ohio, in 1847, elder daughter of a socially prominent and well-to-do family. James A. Saxton, a banker, was indulgent to his two daughters. He educated them well in local schools and a finishing school, and then sent them to Europe on the grand tour.
    Being pretty, fashionable, and a leader of the younger set in Canton did not satisfy Ida, so her broad-minded father suggested that she work in his bank. As a cashier she caught the attention of Maj. William McKinley, who had come to Canton in 1867 to establish a law practice, and they fell deeply in love. While he advanced in his profession, his young wife devoted her time to home and husband. A daughter, Katherine, was born on Christmas Day, 1871; a second, in April 1873. This time Ida was seriously ill, and the frail baby died in August. Phlebitis and epileptic seizures shattered the mother's health; and even before little Katie died in 1876, she was a confirmed invalid.
    As Congressman and then as governor of Ohio, William McKinley was never far from her side. He arranged their life to suit her convenience. She spent most of her waking hours in a small Victorian rocking chair that she had had since childhood; she sat doing fancy work and crocheting bedroom slippers while she waited for her husband, who indulged her every whim.
    At the White House, the McKinleys acted as if her health were no great handicap to her role as First Lady. Richly and prettily dressed, she received guests at formal receptions seated in a blue velvet chair. She held a fragrant bouquet to suggest that she would not shake hands. Contrary to protocol, she was seated beside the President at state dinners and he, as always, kept close watch for signs of an impending seizure. If necessary, he would cover her face with a large handkerchief for a moment. The First Lady and her devoted husband seemed oblivious to any social inadequacy. Guests were discreet and newspapers silent on the subject of her "fainting spells." Only in recent years have the facts of her health been revealed.
    When the President was shot by an assassin in September 1901, after his second inauguration, he thought primarily of her. He murmured to his secretary: "My wife--be careful, Cortelyou, how you tell her--oh, be careful." After his death, she lived in Canton, cared for by her younger sister, visiting her husband's grave almost daily. She died in 1907, and lies entombed beside the President and near their two little daughters in Canton's McKinley Memorial Mausoleum.

    Father: James Asbury SAXTON b: 1 MAY 1816 in Canton, Stark Co., OH
    Mother: Catherine A. DEWALT b: 1 AUG 1827

    Marriage 1 William James MCKINLEY b: 29 JAN 1843 in Niles, Trumbull Co., OH
    • Married: 25 JAN 1871 in 1st Presbyterian Church, Canton, Stark Co., OH
    • Event: Pic 1881 in William & Ida (Saxton) McKinley
    1. Has No Children Katherine MCKINLEY b: 25 DEC 1871 in Canton, Stark Co., OH
    2. Has No Children Ida MCKINLEY b: 1 APR 1873 in Canton, Stark Co., OH
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