Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897
[p. 391] a conductor on the Pennsylvania R. R., residing at No. 351 West Washington Street, New Castle, was born near that city, May 1, 1853, and is a son of Alexander and Elizabeth (Morehead) McKinley, the latter a daughter of James Morehead. Alexander McKinley, a native of Mt. Jackson, Beaver Co., Pa., was born March 22, 1822, and died June 14, 1896, at the home of his son, Willis J. McKinley, after suffering ten years as an invalid from a stroke of paralysis. During the active years of his life he followed the shoemaker's trade, working at various times at Moravia and at Struthers, Ohio; but the greater part of his life was spent in his native borough. He was a Republican in his political views, and during the war served in the Union Army for a short term of service. His father, James McKinley, was born to the eastward of the mountains, and immigrated to Beaver County very early in the century with a large family of brothers and sisters, some eight or ten in all, part of whom remained in Pennsylvania, and part of whom moved farther west to the region of Stark County, in which county is situated Canton the home of President William McKinley. Of his first marriage three children were born: George H., whose life may be sketched on another page; Willis J., our subject; and Elizabeth, now living in New Wilmington, Lawrence Co., Pa. His second marriage with Elizabeth Houston resulted in three more children: John C. of New Brighton, Pa.; Hugh of Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio; and Margaret, the wife of C. C. Kelso of Turtle Creek, Pa. No children were born of his third marriage.
Willis J. McKinley was reared in Lawrence County, attending the public schools till he reached the age of fifteen years. At the age of three years he was left without a mother's tender care by her untimely decease, and when he was six or seven years of age, his father gave up housekeeping, and Willis from that time made his own way. He lived and labored on the farm until his nineteenth year, when he secured a position in a rolling mill, where he worked for one year. Immediately after this, in the spring of 1872, he became a brakeman on the Pennsylvania railroad, and for seven years was employed in that highly dangerous occupation, and was then given a freight train, which he held four years, being then promoted to the more important position of passenger conductor in 1883, and has filled that position with credit and with a large degree of efficiency ever since.
During the years from 1873 to 1880 Mr. McKinley was located in Youngstown, Ohio, at which place he was married Dec. 12, 1875, to Miss Sarah McDonald, a daughter of David McDonald. In his wedded life, Mr. McKinley has gathered about him six children, who are as follows: Edward; Clara, George, deceased; Roy, deceased; Bessie; and Howard, deceased. Our subject and his very popular wife are members of the First Presbyterian Church. Mr. McKinley is a member of the Order of Railway Conductors, New Castle Division, No. 326. In his politics, he is liberal, with marked leanings toward the old Jeffersonian Democracy.
Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897
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Updated: 31 May 2001