February saw many tributes to our nation's presidents and a holiday dedicated to them, but what about their hard-working and supportive spouses?
March is Women's History Month, so why not check out the National First Ladies Library and historic Saxton-McKinley home in Canton to learn more about these fascinating women and their place in our history?
Seven presidential spouses called Ohio home, more than any other state can boast.
Ida Saxton lived in a spacious brick home with her family in Canton.
Her father was a prominent local banker who stressed the importance of education and independence to his daughters. Ida worked in the bank as a clerk and cashier who often managed the bank when her father traveled.
Ida married William McKinley in 1871. The couple had their wedding reception in the Saxton family home and lived there off and on as William's political career advanced and he became the nation's 25th president in 1897.
Ida continued to live in Canton after President McKinley's 1901 assassination, visiting her husband's grave nearly every day until her death in 1907.
The home deteriorated through the years until the grandson of her sister Marsh Belden, Sr. saved the house from demolition, restored the exterior and got it placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Congressional spouse Mary Regula spearheaded establishment of the First Ladies' Library in 1995.
Belden donated a seven-story 1895 bank building he also owned to the library in 1997.
The organization restored the home's interior, secured Congressional Authorization of the First Ladies' National Historic Site and opened the facilities to the public as part of the National Park Service in 2000.
Costumed docents lead hour-long tours of the home, telling stories about the first ladies and life at the Saxton-McKinley home.
The Education and Research Center is in the old bank building one block north of the Saxton-McKinley home.
The original banking room with its restored marble and 1890s architectural details is the library's reception center and exhibit hall on the building's first floor.
The library's current exhibition, "From Frontierswoman to Flapper: Ohio's First Ladies", spotlights the lives of the state's First Ladies through United States' history and runs through April 26.
The exhibit's 20-page brochure is available online and has biographical sketches and pictures of Ohio's First Ladies: Anna Symmes Harrison, Lucy Webb Hayes, Lucretia Rudolph Garfield, Caroline Scott Harrison, Ida Saxton McKinley, Helen Herron Taft and Florence Kling Harding.
Upcoming exhibits include "Eyes on First Ladies: The Power of the Press" and a traveling exhibit of "The Art of First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson: American Impressionist".
The library has a 91-seat Victorian-style theater, research facilities and an archive that features about 150 dresses and other items worn or used by First Ladies, as well as books, videos, photos, speeches, manuscripts, scholarly research papers and other artifacts.
Check the First Ladies' Library website for details about tour times and admission. Researchers and students can also find a wealth of free resources at the library's site.
Thanks to the Canton-Stark County Convention & Visitors Bureau for their assistance with planning our visit to Canton and arranging for comped media passes to the museum.