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Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Archive for July, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mina Miller Edison!

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 6, 2012

In honor of Mina Edison’s 147th birthday, here are some fun facts!

  • Born July 6, 1865 in Akron, Ohio, Mina Miller was the seventh of eleven children.
  • Her father, Lewis Miller, was an inventor, manufacturer and co-founder of the Chautauqua Institute.
    • The Chautauqua Institute, an outdoor camp founded in 1874, offered cultural, religious, educational and musical programs.  It quickly became an American Institution.
    • Lewis Miller’s inventions helped to revolutionize agriculture and included early mowers and harvesters.
  • Mina attended a ladies finishing school in Boston, MA in 1885, studying music – one of the things that would later attract Thomas Edison to her.
  • Also in 1885, mutual friends Ezra and Lillian Gilliland introduced Mina to Thomas Edison, where she was playing piano and singing.  Thomas described Mina as “a yardstick for measuring perfection.”
  • Thomas and Mina married on February 24, 1886 and honeymooned in Fort Myers, staying at a local hotel.
  • Mina and Thomas had three children: Madeleine, Charles and Theodore.
  • Describing herself as a “home executive,” Mina closely managed two homes and their staffs.  She also raised her three children with Thomas and helped raise Thomas’s three children from his first marriage.
  • Mina was active in a number of civic and charitable organizations and co-founded the Fort Myers Round Table, an influential group of community leaders.
  • Mina was also instrumental in beautifying the city (through various garden clubs and beautification councils) and assisting the city’s less fortunate.
  • A dedicated conservationist long before the word entered popular vocabularies; Mina was a member of the National Audubon Society and the Chautauqua Bird & Tree Club.  Mina also became close friends with renowned cartoonist and conservationist, Jay “Ding” Darling.
  • Thomas Edison passed away in 1931 after 45 years of marriage to Mina.  Even after her husband’s death, Mina continued to visit Fort Myers and stay closely involved with the local community.
  • In 1935, Mina married a childhood friend named Edward Hughes.  Hughes passed away in 1940, and Mina resumed using the Edison surname.  She continued wintering in Fort Myers throughout this time.
  • In 1947, she deeded Seminole Lodge to the City of Fort Myers to serve as a botanical garden and preserve the legacy of her late husband.  Mina passed away in the same year.

Suggested materials on Mina Edison: DVD: Mina Miller Edison – The Wizard’s Wife, The Edisons of Fort Myers: Discoveries of the Heart by Tom Smoot

Happy Birthday Henry Ford!

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 1, 2012

July 30th marks the 149th birthday of Henry Ford and the Edison & Ford Winter Estates is celebrating the day with antique car programs, lectures, and Museum demonstrations throughout the day.

As an industrialist, Ford is most noted as the father of the automobile. He was one of the greatest innovators and inventors of our time holding 161 US patents. He was also a filmmaker, who was the largest producer and distributor of films; an early pioneer in sustainability and “green science” methods; as well as a collector; accomplished dancer; and marketer whose business practices set the standard for advertising and marketing today.

Ford Facts:

  • The Ford Motor Company was formed in 1903 and Ford created an assembly line which revolutionized car production, making automobiles affordable for middle class Americans to own, forever changing where people lived and how  they traveled.
  • In 1920 Henry Ford developed charcoal briquets under the brand name Kingsford. Ford built a charcoal plant after turning wood scraps from the production of the Model T’s into charcoal briquets.
  • In 1929, Henry Ford established the Edison Institute in Dearborn Michigan, today named The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village, with his personal collection of historic objects which he began collecting as far back as 1906. The Museum and Village boasts rare collections of famous homes, machinery and Americana including the original Edison Electric Laboratory from Fort Myers.
  • As an early American “green scientist,” Ford patented a plastic bodied car in 1942 using soy based plastics in hopes to use agricultural plastics to promote other markets for farmers to sell their crops.
  • In 1905, Henry Ford served as Vice President of the Society of Automotive Engineers when the organization was founded to standardize US automotive parts.


On July 30, 2012 join Edison Ford curatorial staff at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. for a presentation on The Legacy of Henry Ford’s, Cars and Engines in the Edison Ford Museum.

Lectures are FREE to the public with admission.