First Lady: Ida Saxton McKinley

William McKinley met Ida Saxton in Canton, Ohio, in 1868. In 1870, they started dating. Ida was the daughter of a prominent banker and newspaper owner and had attended the best of schools and taken a tour in Europe. Ida agreed to marry McKinley on January 25, 1871. They had two daughters, neither of whom lived beyond infancy.

Ida suffered from illnesses including epileptic seizures, making her an invalid throughout most of their married life. She did, however, move with McKinley as he took various political positions. Despite her illness, she participated in state functions as first lady.

Ida survived her husband's assassination. She retired to Canton, Ohio, and died on May 26, 1907.


The McKinleys had a very loving relationship, and William was solicitous of his wife's health. During functions, he insisted that his wife sit next to him and if he noticed that she was about to have a seizure he would place a handkerchief or other cloth over her so that others could not see her face.

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