Ohio is known for a lot of things. For one, it’s where Swiss cheese was invented. In fact, the state produces over 138 million pounds of the holey cheese every year. Suck it, Switzerland!
Did you know the Boston Red Sox were originally from Ohio, back when they were called the Cincinnati Red Stockings? Cincinnati eventually got another baseball team, but I think they missed an opportunity by not calling themselves the Cincinnati Control Top Pantyhose.
Ohio is also known for the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, which has caught fire at least 13 times. Cleveland rocks, and apparently combusts.
But the one thing you might not know about Ohio is that it’s produced more First Ladies than any other state. There’s even a First Ladies National Historic Site and Museum in Canton. Because Hot in Cleveland, but Hotter in Canton.
Ohio holds the record for birthing the most Presidents, too. From 1840 to 1920, the Buckeye state gave us eight presidents. Four of those dudes died in office, including two who were assassinated. But we’re not talking about them right now. We’re Gleeking Ohio’s First Ladies!
Let’s start with Anna Harrison. She popped out more kids than any other First Lady, which means she was hardy as hell. How hardy, you ask? She outlived nine of her ten kids. I’ve decided to give her the nickname “Anna Hardy-son.” Spoiler alert: I’m not very good at giving nicknames. Anna also technically never lived in the White House because her husband William died a month after his inauguration. Which earns him the nickname “William Not-So-Hardy-son.” Told ya.
Julia Grant, wife of Ulysses S., was so cross-eyed that she always stood sideways when being photographed. I call that resourceful. Although she also owned slaves while her husband served as General of the Union Army. So when I say “resourceful,” I mean “shameful.”
“Resourceful” can be used to describe several other First Ladies. Rutherford Hayes’ wife, Lucy, was the first First Lady with a college degree, and also hosted the first Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn. After James Garfield was shot by an assassin, First Lady Lucretia installed pipes in their master bedroom that blew cold air on her husband to help with his high fevers. Actually resourceful!
Caroline Harrison was the first to use electricity and put up a Christmas tree in the White House. Caroline also mastered the art of “china painting,” which apparently is a good distraction when you find out your husband Benjamin is fucking your niece Mary.
Ada McKinley suffered from seizures, so she stayed out of the public eye. But all that free time allowed her to crochet thousands of slippers, which she gave to veterans. No word on if she ever crocheted any bikinis.
Ada also encouraged her husband William to retain the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. But most importantly, she wore her Princess Leia buns high and tight.
We may remember William Taft for being that president who got stuck in his bathtub. But we should remember his wife Helen for being the first First Lady to drive her own car, to ride in the inauguration parade, to support women’s suffrage, to publish her own memoirs, and to smoke cigarettes in the White House. Gossip at the time said that the only reason Bathtub Bill ran for president was because Helen wanted to live in the White House. Which seems a little shallow. But Helen also successfully lobbied for better safety standards in all federal workplaces, so fair play to Shallow Helen.
Not to be outdone, Warren Harding’s wife Florence was the first First Lady to vote, to own a radio and a movie camera, to fly in an airplane, and to hobnob with celebs at the White House. When she found out old Warren G was having an affair, Flo may have poisoned him. At least that was the popular rumor after he died mysteriously and she refused to allow an autopsy. But don’t listen to Florence and the Gossip Machine. The look on her face in this photo screams I had my reasons.
So don’t ever let anyone tell you these First Ladies were boring. Sure, Ohio may want to take away your reproductive rights, but it birthed more First Ladies than any other state. And I salute them all. But I do think it’s about time for Ohio to give us America’s First Husband.