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Ted Arnn

Wow! Our team at Falconer Electronics was recently blessed with an amazing opportunity. Ted Arnn, a great-nephew of Thomas Edison and his wife Mina Miller Edison, provided us with an outstanding interview.

We were absolutely thrilled with this opportunity. Ted Arnn is kind, gracious, humble and funny. Also, he shared numerous fascinating stories on the Edison Family from a first-hand perspective.

Learning about a historic figure and entrepreneurial legend like Thomas Edison from a living relative was certainly informational, educational and most of all extremely exciting. In fact, Ted Arnn shares bloodlines with a list of hugely successful individuals.

For example, his great-grandfather, Lewis Miller was a 19th-century inventor and industrialist who also founded Chautauqua Institution.

In addition, the women of the Miller family also went on to find great success. Therefore, our discussion primarily focused on Ted Arnn’s aunt, the incredible Mina Miller Edison.

The Edison Family & Chautauqua Institution Connection 

This post continues our blog series on the Thomas and Mina Edison family as well as their connection to a local landmark Chautauqua Institution.

Our path started by connecting with the team at the Chautauqua Institution Archives. From there, Chautauqua Institution archivist, Jonathan Schmitz recommended reaching out the great-nephew of Thomas and Mina Edison, Ted Arnn.

Ted Arnn immediately replied to our request for an interview and graciously accepted. Furthermore, Ted Arnn far exceeded our expectations with thorough answers, hysterical stories and the generosity of his time.

Below we share pieces of that interview. Enjoy!

Interview with Ted Arnn

Ted Arnn

Question 1: What was your mother’s relationship with Mina?

Answer: Ted shared how his mother Nancy Miller Arnn was extremely close to her aunt Mina Miller Edison. Nancy lost both of her parents before the age of 18. Nancy then moved in with Mina at the Edison home in West Orange, New Jersey. After Thomas Edison died in 1931, Mina brought Nancy to Chautauqua Institution for the summer. As a result, Nancy ended up spending nearly every summer at Chautauqua Institution with Mina.

 

Question 2: What do you think was Mina’s Proudest achievement?

Answer: Mina accomplished plenty in her lifetime. The Bird, Tree & Garden Club at Chautauqua was what Mina was most proud of. Mina was very interested in nature and birds.

 

Question 3: Do you have any stories or do you know any characteristics of Mina’s Parents, Lewis, and Valinda Miller?

Answer: Lewis was a successful inventor of agriculture and farming machinery. For example, Lewis Miller  invented the Buckeye mower which allowed increased safety and efficiency for farmers.

Also, after Lewis died, Valinda and a couple daughters opened a finishing school in their home. They also invested in a company that eventually became Quaker Oats and made them a million dollars in the process. So needless to say, entrepreneurship ran deep with the highly ambitious women of the Miller family.

Question 4: What do you believe would be some of the accomplishments Mina would achieve if she were alive today?

Answer: Ted responded that Mina “certainly wouldn’t be sitting around on the porch sipping tea, that’s for sure.” She would be heavily engaged in pursuing her passions.

Another excellent example of Mina’s relentless determination occurred during the 1930’s. Chautauqua Institution severely suffered financially during the Great Depression and Mina decided to take action. As a result, Mina put up the funds by purchasing bonds to prevent the Hotel Antheneum from falling into receivership. This relentless determination of Mina reflects as Thomas Edison said, “If there is a way to do it better, find it”.

Question 5: What characteristics of Mina should young women entering college or their careers know about Mina that would be helpful?

Answer:  Our takeaway from this question to Ted:

  • Take advantage of every opportunity
  • Get Involved
  • Follow Your Passion
  • Break Barriers

For example, Mina was an extremely positive role model for Ted Arnn’s mother Nancy Miller Arnn. Nancy earned her degree in three years from Radcliffe University (now part of Harvard University). Furthermore, she graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Question 6: Was it emotional for you and your sister Kim to sell the Miller Cottage?

Answer: No, because it went to a great owner. It is almost 100% all back to how it was when Mina was there.

Question 7: Do you still spend summers at Chautauqua Institution?

Answer: “Yes. I continue to spend every summer at Chautauqua Institution.”

Question 8: What brings you back every year? What do you look forward to the most?

Answer: Ted shared all of the many tremendous opportunities that Chautauqua Institution offers every summer. The lectures. The culture. Theater performances. The Playhouse. Religious services.

Most of all Ted cherishes the strong friendships. “All of the amazing relationships that I have built over the years from a child at Chautauqua all the way through adulthood.” He shared these wonderful relationships go back to the days of being a sailing counselor where he gained numerous friendships built with individuals from all over the world.

Question 9: How do you handle the role as a descendant of the founder of Chautauqua Institution? 

Answer: “Extremely humbling.” Ted also shared that it is a responsibility that he strives to live up to.

Question 10: As a relative of Mina, what would you like for someone to know about her legacy?

Answer: Ted explained that Mina was extremely organized. She married Thomas Edison at the young age of 20. Upon marrying Thomas Edison, she immediately took on the role of a mother of Edison’s three children. The oldest only 8 years younger than Mina herself. Mina became the “home executive” of the Edison estate. She managed six staff members that took care of the Edison home.

In addition, he was not a pushover.  Mina grew up in an extremely wealthy home. Her father, industrialist Lewis Miller created a vast fortune as an inventor and entrepreneur. Due to growing up with a famous father, the fame of Thomas Edison did not faze her. Furthermore, she embraced Edison’s fame and made herself part of his business.

In conclusion, we extend a HUGE thank you to Ted Arnn for taking the time out of his busy schedule to share these fun stories with us. We wish Ted continued success.

To learn more about Thomas Edison, check out the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University.

Lastly, thank you for reading our Interview with Ted Arnn. As a U.S. manufacturer of electrical products since 1985, gaining a deeper understanding of the great entrepreneur Thomas Edison and his wonderful wife Mina Miller Edison was thrilling for our team.

Falconer Electronics proudly serves as a U.S. manufacturer of Wire Harnesses, Ground Straps and Commercial Power Strips.

Edis

Are you deeply passionate about electronics? Do you love history as well? If so, you need to check out the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University (click here).

The Edison Papers at Rutgers University serves as an extremely ambitious project dedicated to the man credited with 1093 patents during his lifetime from 1847 to 1931.

Thomas Edison changed history with his relentless drive to make the world a better place with his amazing inventions and new product development.

However, Thomas Edison played many roles in his illustrious life. The list includes not only inventor and entrepreneur but also a loving husband and father. Above all, Thomas Edison represents massive success.

Furthermore, the incredible legacy of Thomas Edison continues on today with great thanks to the dynamic team at Rutgers University.Edison Papers

Rutgers University Professor Thomas Jeffrey, Senior Editor Emeritus Edison Papers 

This post continues our blog series on the Thomas and Mina Edison family. Hence, during our research on Thomas Edison, we discovered a local connection with the Edison family and Chautauqua Institution.

First, we began our research by contacting Chautauqua Institution. Chautauqua Institution Archivist Jonathan Schmitz then connected our team with Dr. Thomas Jeffrey, Professor at Rutgers University and Senior Editor Emeritus of the Edison Papers.

Consequently, Dr. Thomas Jeffrey recently blessed our company with the opportunity to interview him in person. Click here to hear sections of that interview

In addition, our conversation with both Jonathan Schmitz and Dr. Thomas Jeffrey led to a deep interest to continue exploring the Edison Papers.

As a result, it was exciting to see all of the pieces on the Edison Papers website from the Oliver Archives Center at Chautauqua Institution. Especially since Jonathan Schmitz allowed us to go through many of the same documents.

Click the link below to learn how the Edison Papers team made the Edison-Miller connection to Chautauqua Institution:

Miller Family Papers to add Chautauqua chapter to Edison project

Creating The Edison Effect Through Course Development

Below includes a video with Dr. Paul Israel, Director and also General Editor of the Edison Papers:

Below includes a link to another video with an interview with Dr. Paul Israel on PBS:

https://www.pbs.org/video/history-detectives-extended-interview-historian-paul-israel/

The Mission of the Edison Papers Project

Due to the deep dedication and commitment from the team at Rutgers University, their website is loaded with a wealth of information. In particular check out the  Digital Edition of the Edison Papers.

Therefore, it certainly seems like any piece of information imaginable regarding Thomas Edison resides on the Edison Papers website.

For example, according to the Rutgers University website the mission of the project states:

One of the most challenging, versatile, and collaborative projects ever anchored by humanities scholarship, the Thomas A. Edison Papers is a unique resource for understanding the unbounded themes, variations, and processes of invention and innovation because it combines the major research capabilities of Rutgers University with a team of diversely interested specialists.

A major goal of the Edison Papers is to produce a selective fifteen-volume book edition of transcribed and annotated documents. The book volumes provide not only an overview of Edison’s life and career but also significant resources for understanding the development of electrical and other technology, as well as the emergence of new technology industries.

The Edison Papers was established under a Board of Oversight which consists of Rutgers, the State University of New Jerseythe National Park Servicethe New Jersey Historical Commission, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Finally, let’s take a tour of the Edison Papers and explore the tremendous amount of information the team at Rutgers organized:

Edison Personal Artifacts 

The Edison Papers offers literally thousands of documents organized by the categories below:

Thomas Edison Business Related Documents 

Additionally, you can browse through thousands of documents on Thomas Edison’s business dealings:

Thomas Edison Inventions 

Above all, for aspiring inventors, you can also browse by inventions of Thomas Edison:

In conclusion, if you are looking for a blueprint on building game changing inventions and seeking entrepreneurial success, dedicate some time browsing the Edison Papers. You will learn tons.

Most importantly, please take a moment to thank the team at Rutgers University for all of the hard work over the years. Job well done Scarlet Knights!

Let’s Connect

Falconer Electronics serves as a U.S. manufacturer of Commercial Power Strips, Ground Straps and also  Wire Harnesses dating back to 1985.

Also, click on these links to learn more about our Wire Harness Estimator and our new Ground Strap Express!

Lastly, please connect with us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

Several months ago we decided to blog about the greatest inventor and entrepreneur in electronics, Thomas Edison. At that time, little did we know where this path would lead us. As a result, we were blessed to interview Professor Thomas Jeffrey, Senior Editor Emeritus of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University.

Professor Thomas Jeffrey was extremely gracious and open to granting an interview on Thomas Edison. A subject that he has researched extensively for almost 40 years. For more information, click here to check out a recent blog that includes a quick bio and introduces Professor Thomas Jeffrey.Professor Thomas Jeffrey

Thomas Edison Connection to Chautauqua Institution

As we started our blog series on the Edison Family, we discovered a local connection with Thomas Edison and his amazing wife Mina Miller Edison to Chautauqua Institution. While connecting with the Chautauqua Institution Archives, our research led us to the Edison Papers at Rutgers University.

Click the link below to learn how the Edison Papers team made the Edison-Miller connection to Chautauqua Institution:

Miller Family Papers to add Chautauqua chapter to Edison Project

Mina Miller Edison’s father, Lewis Miller, co-founded Chautauqua Institution during the summer of 1874. Fast forward 144 years later, Chautauqua Institution continues to thrive delivering an amazing lineup every summer season. Chautauqua Institution welcomes over 100,000 visitors each summer who explore spirituality, philosophy, cultural vitality and the arts. In addition, click here to learn more.

As a college senior as well as working as a social media intern, learning about the incredible life of Mina Miller Edison led to a great deal of inspiration and an eagerness to explore deeper.

As a result, we learned Mina strongly valued education. Therefore after graduating from Akron High School, Mina continued her education at the Miss Abby H. Johnson’s Home & Day School for Young Ladies in Boston.

My Interview with Professor Thomas Jeffrey

This interview was made possible thanks to Jonathan Schmitz, archivist of Chautauqua Institution. Jonathan provided this outstanding connection to Professor Thomas Jeffrey due to our interest to learn more about Mina Miller Edison..

Ready for this exciting interview with Professor Thomas Jeffrey. Here we go:

Question 1: Did Mina have a good relationship with her family?

Answer: Yes, she wrote a lot to her sister Grace as she grew up. She also wrote to her mother and father as well. They had a strong relationship which helped Mina grow into an amazing woman.

As a result of the Edison papers, you can see these interactions at these links at Rutgers University:

Also here is a clip from my interview talking about her family life:

Question 2: Do you think Mina’s Father’s success helped her want to achieve as well?

Answer: Yes. She wanted to be more than just a housewife, she wanted to be a businesswoman as well.

Also here is a clip from my interview talking about this question:

Question 3: Do you think Mina being such a big part of Edison’s business made her kids want to achieve like their mother?

Answer: Yes, This is especially true when it came to seeing a difference between Mina’s stepchildren and her own children.

Also here is a clip from my interview on this question:

Question 4: Did Mina want one of her children to take over Thomas Edison’s business?

Answer: Yes, she wanted Charles to take over the business. She wanted the business to stay in the family.

Also here is a clip from my interview on this topic:

Question 5: How did Mina feel about Thomas spending time in his lab?

Answer: She didn’t like him spending to much time in his lab. She wanted him present to be part of their family.

Finally, Here is a clip from my interview about a time where Mina had to go get Thomas from his lab.

 

Connect with Us

Thank you for reading this post. Our blog series on the Edison Family continues with our next post on the Edison Papers at Rutgers University.

Another upcoming post on the Edison Family includes our exciting interview with Ted Arnn, the great-nephew to Thomas and Mina Edison.

Also to learn more about Falconer Electronics, you can check out information on our American Made Ground Straps and Wire Harnesses.

In addition, click these links to learn more about our Wire Harness Estimator and our new Ground Strap Express!

Finally, please connect with us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

Dr. Thomas Jeffrey, Professor at Rutgers University, recently granted Falconer Electronics an incredible opportunity with a one-on-one interview. Professor Thomas Jeffrey also serves as Senior Editor Emeritus of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University.

This interview was made possible thanks to Jonathan Schmitz, archivist of Chautauqua Institution. Jonathan provided this excellent connection due to our interest to learn more about Mina Miller Edison, wife of Thomas Edison.

Connecting with Dr. Thomas Jeffrey was a thrill and tremendous honor. Especially since Dr. Jeffrey took time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts, knowledge and expertise on the Edison Family.

In addition, click the link below to learn how the Edison Papers team made the Edison-Miller connection to Chautauqua Institution:

Miller Family Papers to add Chautauqua chapter to Edison project

Dr. Thomas Jeffrey & The Edison Papers

Dr. Thomas Jeffrey earned his Doctorate in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America in 1974.

Following his doctorate, Dr. Jeffrey took on the role as Senior Editor of the Edison Project Papers at Rutgers University where he served from 1979 through 2017.

The Thomas A. Edison Papers Project at Rutgers University explored 5 million pages of documents that chronicled the amazing life and achievements of Thomas Edison as well as his family.

This decade’s long project ranks as one of the most ambitious projects taken on by an American university. The team of scholars including Dr. Thomas Jeffrey turned this wealth of previously hidden information into a premier educational resource. The Edison Project team made “Edison accessible – and comprehensible – to the countless number of young and lifetime learners”.

Dr. Thomas Jeffrey on Thomas Edison

Consequently, Dr. Thomas Jeffrey authored the book “From Phonographs to U-Boats: Edison and His “Insomnia Squad” in Peace and War, 1911-1919.”

In this book, Dr. Jeffrey reveals Edison’s deep involvement towards the war effort during World War I. However, this period of Thomas Edison’s life received little attention prior to Dr. Jeffrey’s book.

Furthermore, this book serves as a guide to Part V of the microfilm edition of the Rutgers University Thomas A. Edison Papers:

Thomas Jeffrey

From Phonographs to U-Boats: Edison and His “Insomnia Squad” in Peace and War, 1911-1919 by Thomas E. Jeffrey is the guide to Part V of the microfilm edition of the Thomas A. Edison Papers. An important work of scholarship in its own right, this groundbreaking book probes an important period in Edison’s life that has received little attention in previous scholarly works. This book reveals a great deal about the inventor’s personality and methods and shows his deep personal involvement in the war effort. From Phonographs to U-Boats also includes two extended essays on how the war affected Edison’s experimental work, business enterprises, and family.

Interview with Professor Thomas Jeffrey

Lastly, please check out our next blog to learn more about the Edison Papers followed by a post to hear clips of my interview with Dr. Thomas Jeffrey. He is a world class expert on the life of Thomas Edison and his family. Above all, Dr. Thomas Jeffrey is a humble, funny and gracious man. It was a true privilege to interview him and I am excited to share my experience with you.

Let’s Connect 

For more information on Falconer Electronics, check out our American Made Commercial Power StripsGround Straps and Wire Harnesses.

Also, click on these links to learn more about our Wire Harness Estimator and our new Ground Strap Express!

Lastly, please connect with us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

 

Mina’s Love for the Community League

Mina Miller Edison loved her community. She often volunteered her time or donated funds to local organizations in New Jersey as well as Chautauqua County. One such organization is The West Orange Community League. The Community League was known for encouraging the members of its community to volunteer for activities and fundraisers. Unfortunately, the league has dissolved over time. However, the essence of its memory remains in separate organizations that still exist today.

 

This legacy that Mina helped to create is still helping children to grow in their friendships. It also encourages adults to be more involved with the children of their community. These organizations include sports leagues, restoration projects, as well as other fundraising opportunities for the community.

Changes Among the League

Over time the goals of the league have been ingrained in the organizations we know today. However, how the goals are reached has changed since Mina’s time. Instead of being one large league there are now multiple organizations. Furthermore, each organization works together to better their community in different ways,

The West Orange Boys and Girls Club

One of the organizations that grew from the league was the West Orange division of the Boys and Girls Club. The Boys and Girls Club encourages children all over the country to join positive activities within their communities. This organization is important to communities due to the number of children that are left to find their own entertainment. This is especially true during the Summer months when they are not in school. Often times parents work full time all year round. Therefore leaving the children home unattended and the parents worrying about what they are doing.

The goal of The Boys and Girls Club all over America is to ensure that these children are taken care of. Therefore relieving the stress of the parents and keeping the children entertained and safe. They are also learning and growing within their community.

“To enable all young people, especially those who need us most,

to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

– Mission Statement of The Boys and Girls Club

Mountain Top League Sports

Sportsmanship, fairness, growth/development and enjoyment of the children are some of the values that drive our dedication and philosophy. It is our intention to provide each child with the opportunity to participate in all games.

In addition, some of our other goals include:

  • Helping build character
  • Teaching good sportsmanship
  • Practicing principals of fair play
  • Providing physical fitness
  • Having fun

Local Community Activity Sites

Check out  The Jamestown Boys and Girls Club for information on our own Boys and Girls Club.

Are you looking for summer entertainment for your kids? Check out Chautauqua Boys and Girls Club Day Camp!

You can also visit as a family! If you would like to visit the historical place that Mina Miller loved you can browse The Chautauqua Institute!

Summer is in full swing and the county is warm and beautiful. Want to enjoy the local scenery? Visit Chautauqua County Parks and Trails.

There are a lot of local organizations to join! Check out The Jamestown Area YMCA!

Contact us

Would you like to learn more about Mina Edison? Read our blog on her Mina’s life! Want to learn more about Mina and her family? Check out our blog Mina Miller Edison’s Family Life!

 

 

 

 

Mina Miller Edison holding Madeleine Edison as a baby, starting a family

Mina Miller Edison, wife of Thomas Edison, led a fascinating life filled with amazing achievements. She not only played the role of loving wife to Thomas Edison, she was also an adoring mother to her children.

In addition to her family life, Mina was extremely active in each community where she lived. She was truly a powerhouse with energy. In Mina’s life, her achievements were nothing short of exciting.

Mina was active in many different organizations and clubs including:

Mina Miller Edison Statue one of her many achievements

In Fort Myers Florida, Mina was instrumental in the foundation of the Fort Myers Round Table. This was a group of local leaders. She brought them together at “Seminole Lodge” in the interest of community improvement. Also, she was part in teaching minority children in Lee County. Mina was an original member of the Periwinkle Garden Club in Fort Myers.

During the Great Depression, Mina created the “Committee of One.” This was the Welfare League of the Oranges. As a result, she studied how unemployment affected the League’s twenty-seven hospitals and allied agencies.

Chautauqua County Achievements

During Mina’s life, she spent a great amount of time in Chautauqua County. As shown in Mina’s Biography, her father was a co-founder of Chautauqua Institution. Therefore, this allowed her to get very familiar with the area. As a result of this, she founded and participated in many local organizations including:

  • Chautauqua Bird and Tree Club- President
  • The Chautauqua Association
  • Chautauqua Institution- Trustee

Thomas and Mina’s love Flourished in Chautauqua. In the summer of 1885, Thomas spent the summer in Chautauqua trying to win over Mina’s Heart. Since Edison was hard of hearing he taught Mina Morse Code. As a result, he eventually used it to propose to her.

In conclusion, Mina’s life was full of amazing achievements that any parent would be proud of. By the time of her death in 1947, she had her three children by her side and was known for much more than just being the wife of Thomas Edison.

Connect with us!

Want to learn more about Mina Miller Edison? Check out these blogs!

Also, to learn more about Falconer Electronics, please click here.

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Also, want to read some of our favorite past blogs? Start here.

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Finally, helpful links for researching the Edison Family!

 

The Thomas & Mina Miller Edison Family 

Continuing our blog series on Mina Miller Edison, we take a deep look into her family life. In particular, the six children that she raised with her husband, Thomas Edison

The family of Mina Miller Edison started when she married Thomas Edison on February 24, 1886. Mina assumed the responsibility for managing two large homes, each well staffed with servants. After two years of marriage, Madeleine was born in 1888. Next came Charles in 1890, and Theodore Miller in 1898.

Madeleine Edison

Mina Miller Edison holding Madeleine Edison as a baby, starting a familyMadeleine was born on May 31st, 1888, the first child born to Mina. She was born in Glenmont, the Edison Family home in New Jersey. She attended BrynMawrCollege in Pennsylvania for two years. Madeleine married John Eyre Sloane. She married him in the Drawing Room at Glenmont on June 17, 1914. Her parents were not the happiest about this marriage being he was an aviator. Madeleine and John had four sons, who happened to be Thomas Edison’s only grandchildren from either marriage.Madeleine's family picture

Madeleine briefly ran for Congress in 1938, she sadly lost. During World War II she gave much of her time to blood drives. This being for the New Jersey Red Cross. She also administered the Edison Birthplace in Milan, Ohio after her mother’s death. In the 1950s Madeleine served on the Board of Directors for Western Union. She died on February 14, 1979.

 

Charles Edison

Family fishing trip fishingCharles Edison was born into the Edison Family at the Glenmont on August 3, 1890. Charles graduated from the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. He married Carolyn Hawkins, whom he had met in 1912 then married on March 27, 1918. Finally, he became president of his father’s company, Thomas A. Edison, Incorporated, in 1927. He ran the company until it was sold in 1959.

Charles is the best known because of his second career, in public service. In the mid-1930s he served in the cabinet of President Franklin Roosevelt.  First as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, then as Acting Secretary. New Jersey voters elected him as their governor in 1940. Charles however, broke a family tradition in the process running as a Democrat. He also founded a charitable foundation that now bears his name, the Charles Edison Fund. He died on July 31, 1969

 

Theodore Miller Edison

Thomas and Theodore Edison working in the family labTheodore Miller Edison was the last to be born at Glenmont on July 10, 1898. Thomas Edison was 51 when his final son was born. Charles is named after a beloved brother of Mina. He had just died in the Spanish-American War. Theodore first attended the Haverford School in Haverford, Pennsylvania, and then Montclair Academy in Montclair, New Jersey. Finally, he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from which he earned his physics degree in 1923. He was the only member of the Edison family to graduate from college.Theodore miller edison family picture

Theodore did work for his father’s company after graduation. After starting as an ordinary lab assistant, he worked his way up to technical director of research and engineering for Thomas A. Edison, Inc. He eventually founded his own company, Calibron Industries, Inc. Also, he built his own smaller laboratory in West Orange. Charles earned over 80 patents in his career. In 1925 he married Anna Maria Osterhout, a graduate of Vassar. He became an ardent environmentalist. He was an opponent of the Vietnam War and advocate of Zero Population Growth. He lived in West Orange with his wife Anna until his death on November 24, 1992.

Mina’s Step-Children 

With the marriage between Thomas and Mina, she took on his three children from the first marriage. Marion, twelve years old, Thomas, Jr. ten years old, and William Leslie eight years old. As a result, they became part of her family to raise.

Marion Estelle Edison

child marion family pictureMarion was the first born of Thomas Edison’s children. She was born on February 18, 1873, and gained the nickname “Dot” as a child after Morse Code.  Marion went to Somerville Seminary in Somerville, New Jersey. She also attended Bradford Academy in Bradford, Massachusetts. In 1895 she married Karl Oscar Oeser, a German army lieutenant.  They lived in Germany through the First World War.  Unfortunately, her marriage ended in divorce in 1921. Finally, she then returned to the United States, where she died on April 16, 1965.

Thomas Alva Edison Jr

Young Thomas Jr Family picture Teenage Thomas Jr Family PictureThomas Alva, Junior, was born on January 10, 1876. He was nicknamed “Dash” after Morse Code like his sister He went to St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. Then moved on to J.M.Hawkins School in Staten Island, New York. He went on to marry stage actress Marie Louise Toohey in 1899. However, the marriage ended within a year. He next married Beatrice Heyzer. Thomas Jr sold the use of his name to advertise “quack” medicines and dubious inventions. His father disapproved of this and eventually asked him to change his name. Thomas Jr. briefly went by the name of Thomas Willard. His efforts at inventing and starting a mushroom farm failed. He died on August 25, 1935

William Leslie Edison

William Leslie was born on October 26, 1878. He went to school at St. Paul’s School, Concord, New Hampshire. Then also attended J.M.Hawkins School on Staten Island. He later studied at the Sheffield scientific school at Yale. William soon married Blanche Travers. William Edison served in the military during the Spanish-American War in 1898. He also served again in the First World War. Like his brother he turned to farm life, breeding chickens. He died on August 10, 1937.

 

For more information on Thomas Edison’s Family life check out these pages!

Thanks so much for reading this post on Mina Miller Edison. To learn more about Mina Miller Edison check out last week’s blog.

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Mina Miller Edison

Mina Miller Edison

A Force is Born

On July 6, 1865, Mina Miller was born into a family of eight. As the Miller family continued to grow, Mina was the seventh of eleven children born to inventor Lewis Miller and Mary Alexander. Her parents had a love for education.  Mina attended and graduated from Akron High School in Ohio. After high school, she went on to study at a home and day school in Boston.

Mina Miller and her family

Mina Miller’s Family

As we discussed in a previous blog, Mina married Thomas Edison in 1886 at the age of 20. Thomas Edison, a widow at the time, was smitten with her beauty upon meeting her. Let’s take a deeper look into the amazing life of Mina Miller Edison.

Mina’s Father the Inventor and Founder

Mina was born into a family that was used to being in the spotlight. Lewis Miller was a successful inventor. He also became one of the founders of Chautauqua Institution. The Miller family spent summers in their home along Chautauqua Lake. Her families love for Chautauqua was passed down to Mina. Therefore, when she had a family of her own she brought them to her family home in the institute.

Mina’s father and husband both had a passion for inventing. However, what they chose to invent was different from one another. While Thomas concentrated on technology and electronics, Lewis focused on farm equipment. They shared the common goal of making life easier with their inventions.

Lewis was also a religious man. His faith was a large influence in his founding of Chautauqua Institution. Therefore, the institute was founded as a Christian camp. Lewis and Reverend John Heyl Vincent thought Chautauqua would be the perfect religious retreat. However, over time the institute opened its doors to all religions and entertainment.

Lewis Miller, Mina Miller's Father

Lewis Miller, Mina Miller’s Father

Mary Valinda Miller

Mary Valinda Miller, Mina Miller’s Mother

The Multiple Achievements of Mina Miller

Managing a Home Full of Staff and Children

When Mina and Thomas Edison got married she was much younger then he was. She was about half his age. Also, in the blink of an eye, she became the stepmother to his three children. Still being young herself she was not fully prepared for motherhood. However, Mina took charge of the household.

Often times Thomas was not around due to his work. This left Mina in charge of hiring the house staff as well as raising the children. Furthermore, she gave herself the title of “home executive”. Mina also held ownership of Glenmont. The home she shared with Thomas. Owning and managing her own home was the first of many successes for Mina.

Children of Her Own

Two years after their marriage Mina and Thomas added to their family with their first child, Madeleine. This started the same pattern of children Thomas had with his first wife. Their daughter was soon followed by two sons, Charles and Theodore. These additions to their family added more challenges for Mina.

She continued to struggle with her relationship with her stepdaughter. Also, as the three eldest Edison children grew their relationships with their parents did not. Mina’s stepchildren did not take education as seriously as she did. They also believed that Edison’s fame could make their futures for them. Due to this belief, Mina’s stepchildren went on to live mediocre lives. Meanwhile, her own children thrived with their education and achieved their goals of being successful.

Volunteering in West Orange

Mina Miller Edison was not one to sit idly by while her husband worked day and night. Therefore, she filled her time with running the household and helping Thomas with his business. Mina also enjoyed working with organizations and causes.

Mina was very involved with the West Orange Community. She was an influential part of organizing the West Orange Community League. A program which provides recreation and other cultural needs. Mina’s work lives on in the league. It is still serving West Orange today. Also, during The Great Depression Mina single-handedly began a study. This study was on the effects unemployment was having on local hospitals and other affiliated organizations. It was important for the community to see how they were being affected by the heightening rates.

Chautauqua Institute and Mina’s Influence

Mina’s father’s love for Chautauqua was passed down to his daughter. Along with being a resident every summer, Mina dedicated herself to many organizations locally. She specifically had a love for birds. She also supported land and wildlife conservation. Often times Mina would donate her own funds to projects for Chautauqua.

Mina became a trustee of the institute. Her passion for the area did not go unnoticed. Therefore, others involved in Chautauqua held Mina in high regards. Much like her father, Mina continued her involvement with her beloved Institute until her passing in 1947.

The Thomas Alva Edison Foundation

After Thomas Edison passed away, Mina started The Thomas Alva Edison Foundation in his memory.  The foundation combined both Thomas’s and Mina’s passions. Mina’s love for education and Thomas’s love for science. However, later on, the nature of the foundation changed. It was no longer dedicated to advancements in science and education. It became a foundation aimed at preserving Thomas Edison’s name and accomplishments.

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Keep an eye out for our future blogs on Mina Miller Edison.

Helpful Sites

Do you want to learn more about Mina Miller Edison? Check out the page Edison Muckers.

Museums are great places to find information. Check out the Edison Museum.

Go to this page to learn more on Mina’s Parents.

Also, did you know that you can visit some very famous graves? Check out the site Find a Grave for more information.

Want to visit the place Mina loved so much? Make a reservation at Chautauqua Institute today! You can check out their full summer calendar here.

 

 

On this day, 153 years ago, July 6, 1865, an amazing woman was born: Mina Miller Edison. Mina was a positive force which she demonstrated with her many incredible achievements. Especially as the wife of Thomas Edison, a wonderful mother and her involvement in numerous community projects.

Mina Miller Edison

Mina Miller Edison & Chautauqua Institution

Our team excitedly decided to create a blog series on Thomas Edison. Being an electronics manufacturer (Wire Harness Manufacturing and Ground Straps) for over 30 years plus being history buffs, a blog series on Thomas Edison sounded educational and fun. 

While conducting research on Thomas Edison, we discovered that Thomas Edison and his wife Mina Miller Edison also share deep roots in our local community, Chautauqua County.

Mina was not only the wife of Thomas Edison she is also the daughter of Lewis Miller. Mina’s father Lewis Miller was a hugely successful inventor and industrialist as well as the founder of Chautauqua Institution.

Mina Miller and her family spent their summers at Chautauqua Institution (check out our blog from earlier this week to learn about Chautauqua Institution). Mina’s father was one of the founders in 1874. Therefore Mina was extremely proud of her father. Especially his legacy in founding the historic Chautauqua Institution.

Furthermore, Mina was extremely passionate and active with her community involvement. This list includes the Audubon Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, the Chautauqua Bird Tree and Garden Club, the West Orange Community League and much more.

The Edison Family 

She accomplished all this as well as filling the role of loving and supportive wife to Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors and most successful entrepreneurs in American history.

Mina also raised 6 children with Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison lost his first wife, Mary Stilwell Edison at a young age with who he had three children. She passed away in 1884. When Mina married Thomas Edison in 1886, she also became the stepmother to Edison’s three children at the early age of twenty. 

Mina and Thomas Edison also had three children together. All who all went on to build successful careers and each had a profound positive impact on society (check our blog next week for more details on the Edison children). 

Chautauqua Institution Archives


Once we decided to blog on Mina Miller Edison, we reached out to Chautauqua Institution. They graciously connected our team with the Chautauqua Institution Archives.

The Chautauqua Institution Archives, the Oliver Archives Center, contains thousands of letters from Mina corresponding with friends, colleagues and family members. The Chautauqua Institution archivist, Jonathan Schmitz is extremely knowledgeable on the Edison Family. 

It was truly fascinating leafing through dozens of letters. However, this is certainly a far cry from the digital age of texting, emailing, tweeting, snapchatting and instant messaging. For example, the archive hosts thousands of corresponding letters between Mina and her children. Mina kept everything. There was even a receipt from a weekend stay at the Chautauqua Institution legendary hotel, Hotel Athenaeum.

Let’s Connect

Thank you for reading our post on Mina Miller Edison. This blog continues our series on the Thomas Edison Family. Check out our previous blogs on Thomas Edison below:

Over the next few weeks, our blog series on the Edison Family will dig deeper into the life of Mina Miller Edison.

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