Mina Miller Edison

Mina Miller Edison, circa 1920.

Mina Miller was born July 6, 1865, the seventh of the 11 children of inventor and Chautauqua Institute co-founder Lewis Miller. She graduated from Akron (Ohio) High School, traveled for a year in Europe, and attended Miss Johnson’s Ladies’ Seminary, a finishing school, in Boston. It was here that Mina was introduced to the newly-widowed Thomas Edison by mutual friends Ezra and Lillian Gilliland. On February 24, 1886 Mina and Thomas Edison were married at Oak Place, the Miller family home in Akron, and honeymooned at the Seminole Lodge property in Fort Myers.

Mina’s education and social status served her well as the young wife of an internationally famous inventor. Besides becoming a mother to Edison’s three children from his marriage to Mary Stillwell, she oversaw the day to day activities at Glenmont, the couple's country estate in West Orange, New Jersey. She and Edison had three additional children of their own, and Mina thrived as a self-described “home executive.”

The influence of Chautauqua became apparent as Mina’s children grew up and moved from home. During this time, Mina came into her own, and became active in numerous social welfare movements including the American Red Cross, the Chautauqua Association, the West Orange Community League, and the National Audubon Society. In Fort Myers, Mina was instrumental in the foundation of the Fort Myers Round Table, a group of local leaders whom she brought together around the dining room table at "Seminole Lodge" in the interest of community improvement. She gave numerous speeches to local groups in West Orange and in Fort Myers, often on the importance of garden clubs and neighborhood organizations, the role of recreation in the education of children, and the value of musical instruction.

After Thomas Edison’s death in 1931, Mina’s community involvement continued. She married childhood friend Edward Hughes in 1935, but after his death in 1940, resumed using Edison as her surname. Mina continued to winter at Seminole Lodge until 1947, when she graciously deeded the property to the City of Fort Myers. She died shortly thereafter at the age of 82, and is buried beside Thomas Edison on the grounds of their home in New Jersey.