Thursday, September 8, 2016

Ida McKinley: Part 1

I would have loved to go on a hike with young Ida McKinley. She could go for miles through rugged terrain.

After she returned from a school in Media, PA, she went back to Ohio to work in her father's bank. This was 1868! She was a teller and worked her way up to essentially being the branch manager. Her father technically was the manager, but he had full confidence in Ida and let her do the work!

young Ida Saxton
After she married the Major, as she called her husband, William McKinley, she had two beautiful daughters. Then tragedy struck this brave and ambitious young lady. Within a short time, her grand-mom, mom, baby, and preschooler all died. Then she fell and injured herself which resulted in periodic leg or spine trouble and epileptic seizures.

Through all this tragedy she became so dependent on the Major and in turn he became dependent on her and the work of caring for her himself.

Her personal tragedies continued. In 1901, McKinley was shot when he was President of the US and he was visiting at a fair. He died months later and Ida was devastated. For the first several years she stayed at home and pouted and begged people to come visit her.

Something seemed to shake her up after she was in an accident with a horseless carriage. After that time she began to come out of her home again and visit with family and friends, especially her great nieces.

Ida passed away May 26, 1907 eleven days before her sixtieth birthday. She had been sick with a cough which led to bronchitis which lead to influenza which led to a stroke.

Her life had been tragic and in moments when she felt well, she was participatory in the Major's political career. What could have been her impact if she had always been in good health emotionally and physically?

There was so much more to Ida's life explored in the excellent book by Carl Anthony. As all of his books are, this book was so well-researched and thorough both about Ida herself and also placing her in the context of her community and country. And it read like a cliff-hanger, the way he phrases each part of the story of her life.

I am looking forward this fall to visit the McKinley home in Canton, Ohio which houses the National First Ladies Library! I will post more about Ida when I return from the trip!