Mary Harrison McKee

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Mary Harrison McKee
Mary Harrison McKee.jpg
First Lady of the United States
In office
October 25, 1892 – March 4, 1893
Preceded by Caroline Harrison
Succeeded by Frances Cleveland
Personal details
Born (1858-04-03)April 3, 1858
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Died October 28, 1930(1930-10-28) (aged 72)
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Children Benjamin Harrison McKee
Mary Lodge McKee

Mary Scott Harrison McKee (April 3, 1858 – October 28, 1930) was the only daughter of President Benjamin Harrison and his wife Caroline Scott Harrison. After her mother died in 1892, McKee served as her father's First Lady for the remainder of his term.

Married and with children by the time her father was elected as president, Mary and her family lived at the White House during her father's term. She assisted by serving as a hostess.

Early life and education[edit]

Mary Scott Harrison was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and was educated in public schools.

Marriage and family[edit]

In November 1884, Mary Harrison married James Robert McKee (1857-1942), a native of Madison, Indiana whom she met in Indianapolis. After her father was elected president in 1888, she and her family lived with her parents in the White House through his term.

Traveling frequently to Boston on business, McKee became acquainted with Charles A. Coffin and joined his Thomson-Houston Electric Company. In 1893 McKee became one of the founding generation of the General Electric company when Coffin merged his company with that of Thomas Edison. McKee rose to become a vice-president of the company and worked for GE until 1913.[1]

Mary and James McKee had two children, Benjamin Harrison McKee (known as Baby) and Mary Lodge McKee. Their daughter married a Mr. Reisinger.

First Lady[edit]

Following her mother's death in October 1892, Mary McKee served as her father's First Lady for the remainder of his term. He was defeated for re-election.

Family estrangement[edit]

As a widower, her father became romantically involved with his late wife's niece and secretary, the young widow Mary Lord Dimmick. She was 25 years younger than Harrison, and Mary McKee and her brother opposed their father's relationship and remarriage. McKee became estranged from her father, and neither she nor her brother attended the Harrison-Dimmick wedding in 1896.

McKee and her father never spoke again. She returned to Indianapolis in his final illness in March 1901, but arrived several hours after his death.

Later years[edit]

Mary McKee died at the age of 72. She was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana, as her parents were.

Her husband survived her, living independently in Greenwich, Connecticut, near their married daughter and her family. According to his note, McKee was despondent because of failing health and required surgery; he committed suicide at age 84 in October 1942.[1]

Legacy and honors[edit]

  • Mary McKee is the most recent First Lady of the United States who was not married to the sitting president.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "James R. McKee Ends his Life at 84", New York Times, 21 October 1942, accessed 5 August 2012
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Caroline Harrison
First Lady of the United States
1892–1893
Succeeded by
Frances Cleveland