- Amish Country
The Saxton McKinley House in Canton celebrated its national debut as the home of the National First Ladies’ Library with a dedication ceremony and Victorian Gala in June, l998 with Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. Known as the Grand Lady of Market Avenue, the Saxton McKinley House breathes new life as the first ever facility dedicated to documenting the lives and accomplishments of America’s 41 first ladies and other important American women in history. Located at 33l Market Avenue South, Canton, Ohio, the library is as unique as the women it serves.
The Saxton House was built by George Dewalt around 1840 with a substantial section added in 1870 by his son-in-law, James Saxton, father of Ida Saxton, wife of William McKinley. This was the home of Ida, prior to her marriage to William McKinley and during the time William served in the U.S. Congress from 177 to 1890, and as Governor of Ohio from 1891 - 1895 before being elected as the 25th President of the United States in 1897.
The structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. In 2000 it was established at the First Ladies National Historic site.
Ida was born in Canton, Ohio, in 1847. She was the oldest daughter of a socially prominent and well-to-do family. James A. Saxton, a banker, was what some would could over-indulgent of his two daughters. He made sure they received a good educated in local schools, a finishing school, and he then sent them to Europe on what was known in the day as the grand tour.
Being pretty, fashionable, and a leader of the younger set in Canton did not quite suit Ida's personality, so her broad-minded father suggested that she work in his bank. While working as a cashier she caught the attention of Major William McKinley, who had come to Canton in 1867 after serving in the Union Army during what was known then as the War of Rebellion. After the war, McKinley wanted to establish a law practice in Canton. Not long after the two met, they were both deeply in love with each other. They were married in January, 1871.
As William McKinley 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. So devastated that Ida became what was called a confirmed invalid. This diagnosis followed her for the rest of her life, and her husband treated her with a delicacy that many found to be obsessive.
After William McKinley was assassinated, she lived in Canton, cared for by her younger sister, visiting her husband's grave almost daily. She also never had another seizure until she died in 1907. She her coffin was placed in the new McKinley Memorial before its official dedication later that same year.