Thomas Edison is Born

Thomas Edison was born on February 11, 1847 in the canal town of Milan, Ohio, the last of seven children.

His mother, Nancy, had been a school teacher; his father, Samuel, was a Canadian political firebrand who was exiled from his country. During the 1840s Milan was one of the leading grain shipping ports in the world. It also became an important shipbuilding and regional manufacturing center with a population of over 1,500.

The Edison family prospered along with the growing city during these years. Samuel supported the family as a shinglemaker, his brother Thomas operated a ship that brought shingle bolts from Canada, and apparently speculated in land as well. While they were not one of the town's leading families, the Edisons were well off and associated with some of Milan's more prominent citizens. Among the family friends was Captain Alva Bradley, a prominent ship-owner on the Great Lakes from whom Thomas received his middle name.