Edison Files

Edison's Two Families

Mary Stilwell Edison - First Wife:
Mary was born in Newark, New Jersey on September 9, 1855 as the daughter of Nicholas Stilwell and Margaret Crane. Mary caught Edison's eye while she worked at Edison's subsidiary the News Reporting Telegraph Company at the young age of 16. Edison and Mary married on December 25, 1871. Mary died August 9, 1884 at the age of 29.
Marion Estelle Edison - First Child:
Marion was born on February 18, 1872. Edison nicknamed her “Dot” in reference to the Morse code used to send messages by telegraph. She boarded at Somerville Seminary in New Jersey and the Bradford Academy in Massachusetts. She married Lieutenant Karl Oscar Oeser, German Army, in 1892. Marion and her husband lived in Germany including during the events of World War I. She divorced in 1921. Marion died April 16, 1965.
Thomas Alva Edison Jr. - Second Child:
Thomas Jr. was born January 10, 1876. Edison continued to show his interest in Morse code - he nicknamed Thomas Jr. “Dash.” Thomas Jr. boarded at St. Paul's School in New Hampshire and the J.M. Hawkins School in New York. He married actress Marie Louise Toohey in 1899. The marriage lasted only one year. His last marriage was to Beatrice Heyzer. He sold the use of his name to advertise “dubious inventions and quack medicines.” Edison asked Thomas Jr. to change his name which he did to Thomas Willard. Thomas Jr. tried inventing and later mushroom farming but all failed. Thomas Jr. died August 25, 1935.
William Leslie Edison - Third Child:
William was born October 26, 1878. William attended the same schools as his older brother. He did attend Sheffield Scientific School at Yale University. He married Blanche Travers. He served in the military during the Spanish-American War in 1898 and later in World War I. He did attempt to get discharged with assistance from his father in 1918 though he failed. Relations between William and his father were poor. William eventually turned to chicken farming. William died August 10, 1937.
Mina Miller Edison - Second Wife:
Mina (MI-na) was born July 6, 1865. Her father, like Edison was an inventor and wealthy. Mina and Thomas married on February 24, 1886. Edison claimed he taught Mina Morse code and he used code to propose marriage. Mina was 20 years old and became the stepmother to Mary's three children. It proved to be no easy task. Daughter Marion described Mina as, “too young to be a mother but too old to be a chum.” Being Mrs. Edison was difficult as well. Edison worked late at the laboratory and regularly forgot birthdays and anniversaries. Mina died August 24, 1947.
Madeleine Edison - First Child:
Madeleine was born May 21, 1888. She was the first Edison to be born at Glenmont, the Edison home. She attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Known as “Toots,” she, under today's circumstances, could have entered the family business due to her intelligence. She married aviator John Eyre Sloane June 17, 1914. She and John had four sons - the only Edison grandchildren. Madeleine was active in politics and ran for a seat in congress in 1938 though was not elected. She administered the Edison Birthplace in Milan, Ohio and left an endowment to the facility. She died February 14, 1979.
Charles Edison - Second Child:
Charles was born August 3, 1890 at Glenmont. He attended Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. Charles married Carolyn Hawkins at his parents' home in Fort Myers, Florida, on March 27, 1918. He became president of the family business in 1927 - Thomas A. Edison, Incorporated . He managed the company until it was sold in 1959. Charles had a second career in the public sector. He served in the cabinet of President Franklin D. Roosevelt: Assistant Secretary of the Navy and later as Acting Secretary. He was elected Governor of New Jersey in 1940. He founded the Charles Edison Fund. The fund is a philanthropic institution generally supporting endeavors in medical research, science education and historic preservation. Charles died July 31, 1969.
Theodore Miller Edison - Third Child:
Theodore was born July 10, 1898 at Glenmont. His father, Thomas, was 51 years old at his birth. He attended Haverford School in Pennsylvania and Montclair Academy in New Jersey. Later, he attended Massachusetts institute of Technology (MIT) earning a degree in physics in 1923. He married Anna Maria Osterhout a fellow student at MIT in 1925. Theodore was the only Edison family member to graduate from college. He worked for the family company and later he founded his own company, Calibron Industries, Inc. He earned more than 80 patents in his career. He later became an ardent environmentalist, an opponent of the Vietnam War and an advocate of Zero Population Growth. He lived with his wife Anna until his death November 24, 1992.
Reference Material:
National Park Service, Edison National Historic Site, New Jersey
Edison A Biography , By Matthew Josephson, 1959
Out Of The Shadow, The Story of Charles Edison , By John D. Venable, 1978
Thomas A. Edison, A Streak of Luck , By Robert Conot, 1979
Mina Miller Edison, Daughter, Wife and Mother of Inventors , By John Venable, 1981

Supporting Files
Edison's Two Families

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Edison's Childhood Years
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