The Inventor and His Mama

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Nancy Edison was a homeschool heroine. She and her husband Samuel lived in Milan, Ohio, in 1847 when she gave birth to their seventh child, Thomas.

Nancy Edison was the daughter of a soldier in the American Revolution. Her husband on the other hand had a Tory in his lineage. Samuel’s grandfather had moved from America to Canada during the Revolution because he supported England over America.

When Thomas was born, Samuel was working as a shingle maker. His family lived in this house which Samuel had designed himself.

Birthplace of Thomas Edison in Milan, Ohio

When Thomas was seven years old, his family moved to Michigan. There he spent the rest of his childhood. In Michigan, Thomas went to school for a few months, but his teachers thought he was slow. He left school, and his mother taught him at home. Thomas came to love reading, which he enjoyed the rest of his life. He also liked to do experiments in the basement.

Thomas Edison enjoyed his mother teaching him. When he grew up, he said, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”

As an adult, Edison talked about his views of education. He did not like schools that taught children to memorize facts. He thought schools cast the brain into a mold instead of encouraging children to think. Edison believed that children should observe nature and make things with their hands.

Of course, Thomas grew up to do exactly that! He had more than 1000 patents; and his work on the light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera are legendary. Edison was not only an inventor, but a businessman who figured out ways to market his inventions to masses of people.

A few years ago Ray and I drove through Milan, Ohio, on our way home from a conference. We drove by Thomas Edison’s birthplace there. In the city park, we saw this statue of Thomas and his mother. The Milan Garden Club donated it. It depicts Nancy Edison with an open book on her lap. She holds Thomas’ hand as she shows him something on the page.

Statue of Thomas and Nancy Edison in the city park of Milan, Ohio.

When Nancy found out that her son Thomas didn’t fit the mold, she figured out what to do instead — just like you do!

Thomas Edison honored his mother and his daughter honored him. In 1906 Thomas bought his birthplace from his sister’s family. In 1947 his daughter opened the home to the public in honor of the 100th anniversary of her father’s birth.

Honor your father and mother
(which is the first commandment with a promise).
Ephesians 6:2




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