This page presents historical information on the following topics:
Edison's grandfather, Captain Samuel Edison, served with the British
in the War of 1812.
In Ontario, Edison's father, also named Samuel, met and married Nancy Elliott, a school teacher and daughter of Ebenezer Matthews Elliott, who was a captain in Washington's army. The younger Samuel became involved in another political struggle -- a much later and unsuccessful Canadian counterpart of the American Revolution known as the Papineau-MacKenzie Rebellion. Upon the failure of this rebellion, he was forced to flee across the border to the United States. After innumerable dangers and hardships, Samuel finally reached the town of Milan, Ohio, where he decided to settle. In Milan, Samuel established himself as a manufacturer of roof shingles and sent for Nancy and their five children to join him.
In 1847, 917,800 bushels of wheat were shipped from this port, making it the second largest wheat shipping port for an inland sea in the world after the Ukranian city of Odessa. Milan had also become a shipbuilding center, producing 75 lake vessels from 1840 to 1866.
By 1850, the advent of the railroads and consequent changes in transportation methods had put an end to the town's great prosperity. The canal and the shipyard were eventually abandoned and the warehouses disappeared. Milan's "golden age", which had lasted only about ten years, was over -- though shipments of grain continued until 1865.
Edison's parents sold the house in 1854,
and the family moved to Port Huron, Michigan.
The Birthplace was out of family ownership
for the next forty years.
In 1894, Edison's sister, Marion Edison Page,
bought the house and added
a bathroom and other modern conveniences.
Edison became the owner of his birthplace in 1906,
and, on his last visit, in 1923,
he was shocked to find his old home
still lighted by lamps and candles!
After the death of Thomas A. Edison from complications of diabetes on October 18, 1931,
opening his birthplace to the public as a memorial and museum
became the private project of his wife,
Mina Miller Edison, and their daughter, Mrs. John Eyre Sloane.
The Edison Birthplace Museum opened
on the centennial of the inventor's birth in 1947.
The house has been restored as nearly as possible
to its 19th Century appearance.
Because much of the Edisons' original furniture was
lost in moves and
to a disastrous fire at their Port Huron Home,
it was impossible to assemble much of the original furniture.
Therefore, gifts and loans from members of the family
have been supplemented by gifts and loans from friends
and, in some cases, purchases of household articles of the period.
Today, this National Historic Site is maintained by the Edison Birthplace Association, Inc., a private, non-profit organization.
Copyright© Edison Birthplace Association, Inc. All rights reserved.