This is the only statue to Nancy Edison, arguably the most important person in Tom’s life. The story he told was, after 3 months in public school, his teacher, Rev. Engles told Tom he was stupid and addled and couldn’t learn. Tom went home and told his mother, and she was furious. She went to see Rev. Engles and told him her son was smart and she would teach him herself. A former school teacher, she taught him how to read and learn and to trust in himself. He later said “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, I felt I had someone to live for, someone I must not disappoint”. He became an avid reader of literature and science. He later said he read every book in the Detroit library.
Without Nancy’s belief in her son, we would not live in the same world we do today. She passed away before he was successful, he was still struggling, having recently gotten his first patent for the Electric Vote Recorder, which congress did not want. But that woman changed the world, by enabling him to become the man who made the first invention factory, the first to record and playback sound, the first to record motion on film, the first practical electric bulb, the creator of our electric distribution system, first patent in electronics, and over 1000 other patents that make our life easier, more productive and propel our intelligence further. His machines are used to create the entire entertainment industry of music and movies. He invented the 20th century and the future.
At the Edison Birthplace, we stress the women in his life, without them, we would not have the Birthplace home or the inspirational story of his life of overcoming obstacles. From his mother, to his oldest sister Marion, who bought the Birthplace back after it had been out of the family, to her daughter Belle who sold it to her uncle Thomas in 1923 for $1, to his wife Mina and daughter Madeleine, who opened the house as a tribute to the humble beginnings of one of the greatest people in history. We hope to serve as an Inspiration to Youth with his stories of perseverance and not giving up, and to adults, showing the impact one can have on a person by believing in them and showing support, as his mother did with him.
This statue beautifully depicts the patience and dedication his mother had to a boy who was full of questions and curious about the world.
We would like to take a moment to remember Jeanette Henry, who was instrumental both for this statue as well as what became the Edison statue in the US Capitol, one of two statues representing the great State of Ohio. She was a long-time family friend as well as an outstanding trustee and citizen of Milan and the world. Her next planned project was to have the Edison Birthplace included as a World Heritage Site. She is sorely missed.