A Brief Biography of Thomas Alva Edison
Thomas Edison's Early Days
The brick cottage in which Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847,
still stands in Milan, Ohio. Its humble size and simple design serve as a constant reminder that in America,
a humble beginning does not hamper the rise to success.
Even as a boy of pre-school age, "Al" Edison was extraordinarily inquisitive;
he wanted to find out things for himself. The story is told of how he tried - unsuccessfully - to solve the
mystery of hatching eggs by sitting on them himself, in his brother-in-law's barn. Among other tales of his
youth in Milan are his narrow escape from drowning in the barge canal that ran alongside the Edison home, and
his public spanking in the town square after he accidentally had set fire to his father's barn.
When he was seven years old, his family moved again; this time to Port Huron, Michigan.
But, unlike their earlier migrations by wagon, the trip was made by railroad train and lake schooner.
Edison's formal schooling was of short duration and of little value to him.
To use his own words, he "was usually at the foot of the class." His teacher did not have the patience to cope
with so active and inquisitive a mind, so his mother withdrew him from school and capably undertook the task of his
education herself. In spite of his lack of formal schooling, Edison recognized the great worth of education and, in
his later years, sponsored the famous Edison scholarships for outstanding high school graduates who were selected each
year through a national contest.