Thanksgiving 1898 marked another occasion of President McKinley and First Lady Ida Saxton McKinley dining at the home of Mrs. Mary Lester Raynolds of Cleveland Avenue North and Fifth Street (Present day 2nd Street.) The Lester House turns into the Melwise Restaurant and Motel. Frank Onesto purchased the Melwise and it became Hotel Delmont. Mr. Onesto razed the over 100 year old house to build his Hotel Onesto in 1929.
On the morning of October 10th 1898 President McKinley and his First Lady Ida Saxton McKinley woke up in the home of Marshall C. and Mary Barber, Ida’s sister. The home is now known as the National First Ladies Historical Site. According to the Monday October 10, 1898 Evening World-Herald of Omaha, Nebraska the couple passed as comfortable a night as possible. After breakfast the President took a short walk for exercise and smoked a cigar. They held a private funeral for George Dewalt Saxton brother of Ida McKinley and Mary Barber at the Barber home. Rev. O. D. Milligan of First Presbyterian Church in Canton, Ohio officiated. At 9:27 the President would meet the rest of his cabinet at the Pennsylvania Railroad Station for the trip to Omaha Nebraska while the first Lady would remain in Canton for a few days. President McKinley was bound for Omaha to attend the Trans Mississippi and International Exposition. James Fuller McKinley nephew of the President attends the exhibition with him.
The following evening a short parade welcomed President McKinley to Omaha, Nebraska, and the next day Wednesday October 12, 1898 he attended the exhibition. Looking for a way to show the progress of the country since the financial panic of 1893 twenty-four states combined forces and put on an exhibition containing 4062 exhibits with over 2.6 million people in attendance.
The President’s Special Train then heads back to Chicago to attend a Peace Jubilee. The Wednesday, Oct 19, 1898 Cleveland Leader spoke of President McKinley being greeted by five thousand people in the jubilee’s auditorium. The crowd called for President McKinley to speak after the keynote was through with his speech. The President expressed how deeply moved he was with the reception he has received in Chicago. There was a call for three cheers for President McKinley and the exercises concluded with a rousing rendition of “America” sung by the crowd. Mrs. McKinley made the trip to Chicago escorted by Major Webb Hayes, son of the late President Rutherford B. Hayes.
The Presidential train moved southeast from Chicago and headed for Indianapolis, Indiana where it would stop for two hours. The train much like today was met by rain, rain, and more rain. The train stopped at East Washington Street where the President and his party would disembark and board seven carriages for the ride to the Indiana Statehouse. The President and First Lady were seen having a grand old time in the parade, and Mr. McKinley posed for the cameras with his hat off. As the party neared the capital the crowds grew larger. The President was ushered into the capital and reappeared through a window onto a platform. The crowd applauded for several minutes before they were ordered to quiet down, and even then Mr. McKinley first words were inaudible. He thanked the crowd for the warm welcome. He said “We met with in no party name, we meet in common country and patriotism and peace.”
One hundred and twenty years ago today President McKinley stopped briefly in Indianapolis, Indiana to speak to his fellow citizens.
Miss Ida Saxton of Canton, Ohio would go on to be Mrs. William McKinley and eventually First Lady when her husband William took the oath of office of the President of the United States in 1897. Ida’s sister Miss Mary Saxton known as Pina (Peen Ya) would later marry Marshall C. Barber of Canton and serve on the Board of Directors of the George D. Harter Bank and Aultman Hospital both in Canton, Ohio.
Ida and Mary Saxton
Ida & Mary’s parents James & Katherine (Dewalt) Saxton had the means to give their children a well-rounded education. They sent their two daughters to Brooke Hall Female Seminary in Media, Pennsylvania.
James and Katherine (Dewalt) Saxton
Photographer W. L. Germon of nearby Philadelphia took an early photograph of Brooke Hall that found its way into our McKinley Archives.
Brooke Hall Female Seminary
W. L. Germon worked in Philadelphia at 914 Arch Street, in what is present day Chinatown. The building was razed and the area is now a parking lot.
Courtesy of Google Maps
Brooke Hall was located on Lemon Street near Baltimore Street in Media, Pennsylvania.
Courtesy of Media Historic Archives
William Jennings Bryan who ran for president against William McKinley in both 1896 and 1900.
With help from the generous team of the Media Historic Archives Commission my wife Alyson and I were able to learn more about the “finishing school” Ida and Mary Saxton attended in the mid nineteenth century. We started at the Upper Providence Library in Media where the Media Historic Archives are housed. We met with Kathy a commissioner of the historical group. She allowed us to explore books, archival photographs, and papers on Brooke Hall. The commission’s archivist, Adam generously took the time to pull all the items connected with the school. Walt, another commissioner in the group took us on a two and a half hour tour of the Borough of Media. Our first stop was an area where a house once stood that was associated with William Jennings Bryan who ran for president against William McKinley in both 1896 and 1900. Another place in town that is connected to Mr. Bryan is the Delaware County Courthouse where he gave a speech on the steps.
Using both the 1882 and the 1892 atlases of Delaware County, PA we were able to locate the footprint of Brooke Hall.
Courtesy of Media Historic Archives
Courtesy of Media Historic Archives
It was an exhilarating experience to visit another place where Ida and Mary Saxton once walked and lived for a time in their young lives.
Brooke Hall Footprint on Lemon Street
The Media Elementary School became the first anchor in the revitalization of the downtown area.
Students of Brooke Hall were not permitted to write letters to boys or visit Media without an escort. Shortlidge Academy for Boys also operated in town at the same time as Brooke Hall. Walt, our tour guide told us the all too familiar story of the suburbanization of Media, and the decay of the borough in the mid-20th century. The beginnings of the rebirth of the downtown area rested in the land where the poorhouse once stood. The same area then became the Shortlidge Boy’s Academy, and finally one of the borough’s elementary schools. The Media Elementary School became the first anchor in the revitalization of the downtown area.
Media Elementary School
Other anchors were established and eventually Media came back to be a healthy thriving borough.
Alumni from Massillon, Ohio
Ida & Mary Saxton kept fond memories of Brooke Hall, and their Principal Miss M. I. Eastman. Ida would became Brooke Hall’s most famous graduate, graduating in 1863. Over thirty years later Mrs. McKinley was still on affectionate terms with one of her teachers Miss Harriet Gault. In 1898, First Lady Mrs. Ida (Saxton) McKinley would host a banquet for Brooke Hall Alumni in the White House. The party included Teacher Miss Harriet Gault. The guest list also included; Caroline McCullough Everhard, Flora Russell McClymonds, Annie Steese Baldwin, and Carrie Jacobs Brown all of Massillon, Ohio.
Caroline McCullough Everhard Courtesy of Massillon Museum
Flora Russell McClymonds Courtesy of Massillon Museum
Annie Steese Baldwin Courtesy of Massillon Museum
Carrie Jacobs Brown Courtesy of Massillon Museum
The Massillon Museum has a fan in their collection. It is signed by these ladies from Massillon. We have reason to believe this may be a fan from Brooke Hall.
Courtesy of Massillon Museum
Brooke Hall in Media, Pennsylvania was a very special place to many young women…