Monday, August 11, 2008

Thomas Edison’s Visit to Erie County

On August 11, 1923, Thomas Alva Edison visited his birthplace in Milan, Ohio. He was accompanied by Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Walker D. Hines. The group had recently attended the funeral of President Warren Harding in Marion, Ohio.

Judge Roy Williams, another former Milan resident, formally welcomed Thomas Edison. A crowd of two thousand people had gathered in Milan to get a glimpse of the famous inventor and his friends. A band played “Hail, Hail the Gang’s All Here.”
Judge Williams is pictured above, with two of the ladies from the first female jury in Erie County in 1920.

After visiting Milan, the men drove to Cedar Point, where they spent the night at the Hotel Breakers. On August 12, the men were dinner guests of Mrs. Edward Wheeler. As a boy, Thomas Edison had played with childhood friends at the Wheeler farm, which had been owned by Hiram Page during Edison’s youth. The Sandusky Register carried front page stories of the visit of Edison, Ford and Firestone on August 11 and August 12, 1923. Thomas Edison declined to address the crowd, saying “I’m too deaf to speak.” Henry Ford said “I’ve heard to so much talk that I don’t know what to say.” Harvey S. Firestone began his speech with: “Mrs. Firestone has all the hot air in our family. I’m no speaker, but upon this occasion I might say that I am here to reflect the glory of this occasion. I am proud to be known as a friend of the greatest man of the generation, Thomas A. Edison and as the friend of a benefactor of the nation, Henry Ford.”

The book Uncommon Friends, by James D. Newton, gives insight into the relationship of Thomas Edison with Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel, and Charles Lindbergh. This book is available for loan through the ClevNet Consortium.

On February 19, 1927, Thomas Edison once again was in the newspaper regarding his ties to Erie County. Edison had written to Erie County Auditor Fred W. Bauer, questioning why his property in Milan had been reappraised by thirty percent.

In 1929, a floral mound honored Thomas A. Edison in Washington Park.

No comments: