The President's Wife: Ida McKinley 

USS Panay
Ida McKinley

Ida Saxton was born in Canton, Ohio on June 8,1847 to James Asbury Saxton and Katherine DeWalt. She was given a finishing-school education and went to work as a cashier in her father's bank. She married William McKinley in 1871.

The McKinley's had 2 daughters, but lost them both to illness when they were very young. Mrs. McKinley became an invalid and was subject to epileptic seizures. William McKinley was devoted to his wife and took great care to accommodate her illness. When they were in the White House, adjustments in protocol and customs were made for Mrs. McKinley. When she attended state functions with the president, the seating was altered so that she could sit next to the President. If she had a seizure, he would drape his handkerchief over her face until the episode passed. Arrangements were made by the White House staff to take Mrs. McKinley upstairs if the seizures become violent.

Mrs. McKinley accompanied the President on his ill-fated trip to the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901.

She remained constantly at his side during the 8 days of his confinement after the assassination attempt. When he died, she told her friends. "He is gone and life to me is dark now." She visited his grave every day and died 6 years later. Mrs. McKinley was buried next to her husband and their daughters in Canton, Ohio.

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