Famous Marriages Thomas Edison and Mina Miller Part 2

About the marriage between inventor Thomas Edison and Mina Miller, history of their wedding and life after marriage.


Thomas Edison and Mina Miller

That summer, Edison went to Jamestown, N.Y., to attend the annual gathering of the Chautauqua Association. While describing himself as "not much for religion," Edison had to be near the object of his love. This turned out to be a fortuitous trip, for it made the suitor aware of the close association between the Miller family and that of the famous educator Bishop John Heyl Vincent, whose son George had, in fact, been considered Mina's eventual mate ever since the two were children. So even though the couple was surrounded by Millers, Vincents, and all sorts of chaperons at the affair, Edison knew he would have to make his move. As Edison relates it: "My later courtship was carried on by telegraph. I taught the lady of my heart the Morse code, and when she could both send and receive, we got along much better than we could have with spoken words, by tapping our remarks to one another on our hands."

Proposal: In the summer of 1885, Edison and Mina went on a carriage excursion through the White Mountains of New Hampshire, with Marion and the Gilliards in tow. But chaperons did nothing to inhibit the inventor's soaring heart: "I asked her thus in Morse code if she would marry me. The word yes is an easy one to send by telegraphic signals, and she sent it. If she had been obliged to speak, she might have found it much harder."

Wedding: On Feb. 24, 1886, Akron, O., had its social event of the year with the wedding of Mina Miller and Thomas Edison. Crowds of important people, who arrived by train from all over the country, were picked up in shiny carriages and whisked off to the Miller mansion, which reverberated to the music of an orchestra. A chef and 20 waiters were imported from Chicago to serve a huge lunch, and a plush red carpet led from the Miller home to the scene of the wedding, a picturesque knoll overlooking the city of Akron.

The ceremony was performed by a prominent Methodist minister under an arch of roses. Before starting on their Florida honeymoon, the Edisons drove through Akron to the accompaniment of cheering admirers, and in a rather unusual wedding-day move, the couple spent a period of time alone in Glendale Cemetery. Although the Fort Myers house was not yet completed, the couple honeymooned there anyway. Conditions were probably relatively rugged, but Edison obviously wanted to be far from civilization. Normally a man obsessed with his work, Edison was not heard from for three full weeks after his marriage. According to his secretary, Edison completely ignored both letters and telegrams concerning important matters that required his immediate attention--something which astounded all who had worked with the man.

Happily Ever After: While Mina was a strongwilled woman who did much to cajole Edison into acting like a proper financial magnate, he remained personally intractable. Filled with affection for his wife, Edison continued throughout their marriage to ignore her at times when he was wrapped up in his work. Mina often found herself stranded in their New Jersey mansion, with only the company of their three children, Madeleine, Charles, and Theodore.

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