The Michigan Boyhood Home of Thomas Edison
Any Michigander up on their history knows that Thomas Edison spent a lot of time in Michigan. No, he was not born here…he was born in Milan, Ohio, but in 1854 when he was seven years old, his parents moved the family to Port Huron, Michigan.
At the time, their home was located near the Fort Gratiot Military Reserve. It was a two-story house built in 1838 by a member of the fort.
It was a good-sized 3,300 square foot home, with a basement big enough for young Tom to build a laboratory. Next to it – as you’ll see in the drawing in the gallery below – was a tower that Tom’s father built. Why? So he could charge people twenty five cents to climb it and look out over Lake Huron..
Ten years later, the Edisons were kicked out of their own house…they owned the house, but not the land. The Hartsuff brothers – Major General George and Colonel Bill – didn’t care for Sam, Tom’s father. They labeled him as a “Peace Democrat” so they gave Sam a paltry $500 for the house and kicked the family out. On top of that, it was at the coldest time of the year: January 31, 1864.
Ten more years went by and the house was destroyed by fire on November 13, 1870. Accident or intentional? Another hundred years go by…..curious history admirers arranged an archaeological dig on the site and uncovered the old basement, which still had remnants and relics of young Tom’s old laboratory. They also discovered proof of arson.
I do have a question: where did the family move to after they were kicked out? I couldn't find an answer. Tom was 17 when the family was evicted, and at age 19 he moved to Kentucky. Where did they live for those two years?
The archaeological site was filled, in order to keep it preserved for any future digs and study. Tom Edison went on to hold 1,093 inventor patents including his most famous, the light bulb. Edison also invented the car battery, movie camera, and phonograph (which evolved into the record player).
Not bad for a kid who was thrown off a Michigan train and whose family was thrown out of their own home.
He got the last laugh.
Thomas Edison's Port Huron Home
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