In 1869, Ida Saxton and her sister Mary embarked on a six month long Grand Tour of Europe. Ida wrote home to her parents in Canton, Ohio, that a traveling companion had “bought a very nice music box that plays 6 Airs for 90. Francs… (but) the case was not very nice. I think I will get one in Geneva.” She purchased the rosewood music box at the Ducommun & Cie store on the corner of Rue du Mont Blanc and Rue Kléburg in downtown Geneva, Switzerland in late September. This particular music box has a shifting eleven inch cylinder that provides the same eight tunes it has played since 1869. Every song is pinned to emphasize the treble-soprano keys, and the eight melodies are strummed through the delicate teeth for a little over 30 seconds each.
List of the Songs from Ida Saxton McKinley’s Music Box
1. Balse Blonde et Brunette – C. Cobella (Spanish Waltz)
2. The Lass of Patie’s Mill (Traditional Scottish Dance)
3. Quadrille No. 2, Fortunio – Strauss (Josef Strauss, Opus 103, Viennese Dance)
4. The Lancashire Lass – Jesse Williams (Irish Dance)
5. La Traviata, Duet, Parigi O Cara – Verdi (Italian Opera – Aria, Act 3)
6. The Brown Thorn (Irish Lullaby)
7. Lucia di Lammermoor – Donizetti (Italian Opera - Finale, Act 1)
8. Lilla’s a Lady (English Ballad)
After Ida Saxton McKinley’s death in 1907, the music box was given to a favorite nephew on President McKinley’s family side, William McKinley Duncan. It was passed down for over a hundred years in the Duncan family to each son who bore the same namesake; William McKinley Duncan II, and William McKinley Duncan III. Upon marrying, William McKinley Duncan III changed his name by hyphenating his last name to include his wife’s maiden name; thus his name became William McKinley Duncan-O’Neal. Mr. Duncan-O’Neal donated it to the National First Ladies’ Library in 2009.