Mary Harrison McKee

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Mary Harrison McKee
Mary Harrison McKee.jpg
Acting First Lady of the United States
In role
October 25, 1892 – March 4, 1893
PresidentBenjamin Harrison
Preceded byCaroline Harrison
Succeeded byFrances Cleveland
Personal details
Mary Scott Harrison

(1858-04-03)April 3, 1858
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
DiedOctober 28, 1930(1930-10-28) (aged 72)
Greenwich, Connecticut, U.S.
Resting placeCrown Hill Cemetery
James McKee
(m. 1884)
  • Benjamin
  • Mary
Parent(s)Benjamin Harrison (father)
Caroline Scott (mother)

Mary Scott McKee (née Harrison; April 3, 1858 – October 28, 1930) was the only daughter of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president of the United States, and his wife Caroline Scott Harrison outside of her infant sister who died shortly after birth.[1]

After her mother died in 1892, McKee served as her father's First Lady for the remainder of his term.

Married 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.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Mary Scott Harrison was born in Indianapolis in 1858 and was educated in public schools.

Marriage and family[edit]

Mary Harrison McKee in her wedding gown. Married James Robert McKee at First Presbyterian Church, November 5, 1884. Photographed by W.H. Potter of Indianapolis. From the collections of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.

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.[citation needed]

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

Acting 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.[citation needed]

Family estrangement[edit]

As a widower, her father became romantically involved with his late wife's niece and secretary, young widow Mary Dimmick, who was 25 years younger than Benjamin Harrison, 27 days younger than Mary Harrison McKee, and was a first cousin of Benjamin's children.

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 in Greenwich, Connecticut.[3] She was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana, as her parents had been. Her husband survived her, living independently in Greenwich, Connecticut, near their married daughter, Mary Lodge Reisinger, and her family. According to his note, James McKee was despondent because of failing health and required surgery; he committed suicide at age 84 in October 1942.[4]


  1. ^ "Caroline Scott Harrison". Benjamin Harrison. Retrieved 2023-03-07.
  2. ^ "Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison". The White House. Retrieved 2023-03-07.
  3. ^ Massachusetts Society of the Colonial Dames of America (1924). Reports of Officers and Standing Committees. Geo. H. Ellis. p. 16.
  4. ^ "James R. M'Kee ends his life at 84: Was a son-in-law of President Harrison and a founder of General Electric". The New York Times. October 22, 1942. p. 23. Retrieved March 19, 2023.
Honorary titles
Preceded by First Lady of the United States

Succeeded by