Happy Birthday, Mina Miller Edison!
July 6, 2012
In honor of Mina Edison’s 147th birthday, here are some fun facts!
- Born July 6, 1865 in Akron, Ohio, Mina Miller was the seventh of eleven children.
- Her father, Lewis Miller, was an inventor, manufacturer and co-founder of the Chautauqua Institute.
- The Chautauqua Institute, an outdoor camp founded in 1874, offered cultural, religious, educational and musical programs. It quickly became an American Institution.
- Lewis Miller’s inventions helped to revolutionize agriculture and included early mowers and harvesters.
- Mina attended a ladies finishing school in Boston, MA in 1885, studying music – one of the things that would later attract Thomas Edison to her.
- Also in 1885, mutual friends Ezra and Lillian Gilliland introduced Mina to Thomas Edison, where she was playing piano and singing. Thomas described Mina as “a yardstick for measuring perfection.”
- Thomas and Mina married on February 24, 1886 and honeymooned in Fort Myers, staying at a local hotel.
- Mina and Thomas had three children: Madeleine, Charles and Theodore.
- Describing herself as a “home executive,” Mina closely managed two homes and their staffs. She also raised her three children with Thomas and helped raise Thomas’s three children from his first marriage.
- Mina was active in a number of civic and charitable organizations and co-founded the Fort Myers Round Table, an influential group of community leaders.
- Mina was also instrumental in beautifying the city (through various garden clubs and beautification councils) and assisting the city’s less fortunate.
- A dedicated conservationist long before the word entered popular vocabularies; Mina was a member of the National Audubon Society and the Chautauqua Bird & Tree Club. Mina also became close friends with renowned cartoonist and conservationist, Jay “Ding” Darling.
- Thomas Edison passed away in 1931 after 45 years of marriage to Mina. Even after her husband’s death, Mina continued to visit Fort Myers and stay closely involved with the local community.
- In 1935, Mina married a childhood friend named Edward Hughes. Hughes passed away in 1940, and Mina resumed using the Edison surname. She continued wintering in Fort Myers throughout this time.
- In 1947, she deeded Seminole Lodge to the City of Fort Myers to serve as a botanical garden and preserve the legacy of her late husband. Mina passed away in the same year.
Suggested materials on Mina Edison: DVD: Mina Miller Edison – The Wizard’s Wife, The Edisons of Fort Myers: Discoveries of the Heart by Tom Smoot