Happy St. Patrick’s Day! William McKinley was of Scots-Irish ancestry. Here is about it. From Charles S. Olcott, “The Life of William McKinley, Volume 1.” Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin. 1896.
“The sons of William MacKinlay settled near Callender, in Perthshire, and his great-great-grandson,James MacKinlay, known as “James the Trooper,”went to Ireland as a guide to the army of King William III and engaged in the battle of the Boyne, July I, 1690. He remained in Ireland and became the ancestor of the Irish MacKinlays.
The earliest immigrant to America was David McKinley, a son of James, known as “David the Weaver.” That he was a thrifty man is shown by a record of the purchase in 1743 of three hundred and sixteen acres of land overlooking the Susquehanna River in York County, Pennsylvania. John, the eldest son of David the Weaver was born about 1728. Inheriting a small estate from his father, he became a large landholder and engaged in important business transactions. When the Revolution broke out he served in the York County Militia and was also made wagonmaster for his township.
David McKinley, the son of John, and great-grandfather of the President, was born May 16, 1755, in York County, Pennsylvania. At the outbreak of the Revolution, he enlisted as a private in the militia, serving continuously for twenty-one months and taking part in three engagements. After the war he moved to Mercer County, Pennsylvania, and in 1814 settled in Columbiana County, Ohio. He had ten children, the second of whom was James Stevenson McKinley, the grandfather of the President. He was born September 19, 1783. His wife was Mary Rose, an English woman, who came to America from Holland, whither her ancestors had been driven from England because of religious intolerance. Her grand father, Andrew Rose, had previously emigrated to America with William Penn.
James and Mary settled on a farm in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, but in the thirties James became interested in the iron business and was made manager of a charcoal furnace at New Lisbon (now Lisbon), Ohio. Their son, William McKinley, the father of the President, was born November 15, 1807. Like his father, he was founder or manager of blast furnaces, a trade which in the pioneer days required a strong physique and skill of many and varied kinds. Pig iron was made in charcoal furnaces, and the duties of the manager included the chopping of wood, the burning of the charcoal, the mining of the ore, and all the details of the manufacture of the resultant product, pig iron. He had begun work at sixteen, with no education except what could be gained from the meager facilities of the common schools in an undeveloped country. Yet it is said that there were three books which he kept constantly at hand, and read for a few minutes at a time whenever he had an opportunity. These were the Bible, Shakespeare, and Dante, His first business venture on his own account was made in 1830, when as a partner in the firm of Campbell, McKinley & Dempsey, he rented a furnace at Niles, owned by James Heaton. Later he formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, Jacob Reep, buying or renting furnaces, first at Fairfield, then New Lisbon, and finally at Niles, Ohio. In 1829 he married Nancy Allison.
The ancestors of Nancy Allison McKinley came from Scotland and settled in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. She was a woman of strong, rugged, positive character. Her old neighbors often referred to her as a peacemaker. She was continually doing kindnesses, caring for the sick, helping the poor, and extending the hospitality of her home to the schoolmasters who boarded round or the travelers who occasionally passed that way. Her sturdy Scotch disposition made her a thrifty housewife and a stern disciplinarian, though her children obeyed her wishes more from love than through fear. She expected obedience and received it. The family were neither rich nor poor. They lived simply, dressed as became their station, and commanded the respect of the community wherever they resided. In company with her sister, Mrs. Jacob Keep, Mrs. McKinley took entire charge of the Methodist church at Niles, sweeping the floors, dusting the pews, lighting the candles, obtaining the fuel, and providing food and lodging for the itinerant preachers who came for the services. It was commonly said that these two sisters “ran the church, all but the preaching,” When she wanted to visit her relatives at New Lisbon, thirty miles away, Nancy Allison McKinley thought nothing of riding the entire distance on horseback, carrying one of her children with her. She was a woman of unusual common sense, who kept her emotions well in reserve. In later years, when her son was the Governor of Ohio, she was accosted by astrange woman on a railroad train, who asked her where she was going. “To Columbus” was the reply.”Do you know any one there?” inquired the chance acquaintance. “Yes,” she answered quietly, “I have a son there.”
Though not having the benefit of an education, Nancy Allison McKinley was a born gentlewoman, Her husband was an industrious worker, and a good business man, who, though never prosperous in a large way, was always able to provide for the necessities of his family. Though not a well-educated man, he realized his own deficiency, and early in life determined that his children should be sent to school, a purpose in which he was earnestly supported by his good wife, if, indeed, she was not the real instigator of it. To support their family in a fair degree of comfort and provide for the education of their children proved to be no small undertaking, for nine little ones came to bless the household of this worthy couple.
William McKinley, Jr., the seventh child of William and Nancy Allison McKinley, was born in Niles,Ohio, January 29, 1843. A famous American philanthropist, upon revisiting the tiny cottage in Scotland where he was born, left this inscription upon the visitors register: “First visit to my birthplace the humble home of honest poverty best heritage of all when one has a heroine for a mother.” Such was the heritage of William McKinley, Jr.”