James McKinley was engaged in the manufacture of iron, being what was commonly called a furnace man. As the son grew up, he too went into the iron business, becoming the manager of a furnace at New Wilmington, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, a position he maintained for upward of twenty years. This furnace was miles from the home of William McKinley, Sr.; but furnace work was not easy to be had in those days, and rather tlian give up his position, the father of the future President used to drive home every Saturday to see his family, and drive back to work early Monday morning.
In 1829, William McKinley, Sr., married Nancy Campbell Allison, a descendant of English-Dutch stock that came to America with William Penn. Her grandfather was active during the Revolution, and was known as a maker of bullets and cannon. He was a founder by trade, sturdy, stern, and uncompromising—one of the men who said we must establish our freedom no matter what the cost.The home in which William McKinley, the future President, first saw the light of