Thomas Alva Edison’s mother Nancy is one of my homeschool heroines. In 1847 Nancy and her husband Samuel were living in Milan, Ohio, when she gave birth to their seventh child, Thomas.
Nancy Edison was the daughter of a soldier in the American Revolution. However, Samuel Edison’s grandfather had moved from America to Canada during the Revolution because he supported England over America. In 1847 Samuel worked as a shingle maker in Milan, and his family lived in a home he had designed himself.
When Thomas Edison was seven years old, his family moved to Michigan where 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.
Last weekend Ray and I were in northern Ohio for a conference. On our way south, we drove through Milan and snapped photos in front of Thomas Edison’s birthplace.
Milan is a pretty little town. Milan’s library was built in 1912.
Milan was dressed up in patriotic colors the day we were there.
My favorite scene was the city park . . .
. . . with its statue of Edison and his mother, donated by the Milan Garden Club.
This close-up illustrates the beautiful relationship between the inventor and his mother. On her lap is an open book. She holds Thomas’ hand as she shows him something on the page.
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 Edison’s 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).