Love at First Sight?

In “Ida McKinley: The Turn-of-the-Century First Lady through War, Assassination, and Secret Disability” historian Carl Sferrazza Anthony tells of William and Ida McKinley’s inauspicious first meeting and more auspicious second meeting. While no exact dates are given, as they say, we all know the rest of the story.

Summer 1868: Ida and her boyfriend, John Wright, sat at a picnic table at Meyer’s Lake, outside Canton, Ohio. While there “The sight of Miss Saxton eating chicken both confused and amused a twenty-four-year-old attorney who loved recalling that moment for the rest of his life. He never mentioned her boyfriend John Wright, the Confederate Army major, but any jealousy he may have felt would be understandable, especially since he himself was a Union Army major. The attorney, who had been in Canton for less than two years, lived in a rented room. His sister Anna was a Union schoolteacher. Anna, accompanied by her brother, came over to say hello to Ida. After the brief introduction, the giddy belle in summer white never suggested to the somber teacher and lawyer, in black mourning for their sister, that they get better acquainted. Not long after, in fact, when Ida ran into one of his friends, she remembered nothing about the man in black, except his military status, so she called him ‘the Major.’ Observing their introduction, however, her friend Catherine Meyer saw that it had been ‘love at first sight for’ for William McKinley.” (10)
1870: While attending a lecture by Horace Greeley, sponsored by the YMCA, Ida became focused on William McKinley, President of the YMCA, who eloquently introduced Greeley. (17). The couple became engaged that fall.
From Carl Sferrazza Anthony, “Ida McKinley: The Turn-of-the-Century First Lady through War, Assassination, and Secret Disability.” Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press. 2013.

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