Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Ohio Bicentennial Moments

Edison's bright ideas hatched at home

On Feb. 11, 1847, Thomas Alva Edison - whose more than 1,000 inventions included the phonograph and a reliable incandescent light bulb - was born in Milan, Ohio.

Edison's great-grandfather, John Edison, a New Jersey landowner, was a British loyalist during the Revolution. His land was confiscated, he was imprisoned and he was sentenced to death by the Americans. But wealthy relatives were able to procure his release.

Edison moved his family to Canada, where Thomas' grandfather and father were both born. His father, Samuel Edison, was involved in the failed Canadian revolt known as the Papineau-MacKenzie Rebellion.

Forced to flee to the States, he settled in Milan, where he and his wife, Nancy, bought a lot in 1841. The house they built became the birthplace of Thomas Alva Edison, their seventh child, in 1847.

His mother, a former teacher, schooled him at home. He was said to be so curious that once his mom found him sitting on eggs to see if he could make them hatch.

The family sold the property and moved to Michigan in 1854. In 1894, Edison's sister bought the Milan house, and Edison became the owner in 1906. He died in 1931.

Now, the house is a museum that features a collection of many of his early inventions, documents and family mementos.

- Rebecca Goodman

E-mail rgoodman@enquirer.com or call (513) 768-8361.

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