By Thomas Palmer
On today’s Galion History Corner, I am happy to share the contents of a newspaper article discovered just this week that corroborates local family stories that have been shared for the last 100 years.
The stories began with the late Olive Gill, who was for many years the head librarian at the Galion Public Library. Olive told several others that her in-laws, Bloomer and Nellie Stewart Gill, had been visited at the Gill House by inventor Thomas Alva Edison and his wife, Mina.
After Preserving Galion, Inc. purchased the Gill House in 2011, history research began in earnest about the Gills, their contributions to Galion’s past, and this story, among others. Soon it was discovered that Mina Miller Edison was, in fact, a childhood friend of Nellie Gill; the two had met during family visits to the Chautauqua Institution in New York, which Mina’s father had established in the early 1870s.
It was also found that the Edisons, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford and Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Firestone, were in nearby Marion for the funeral of President Warren G. Harding on August 10, 1923. A newspaper article written years later was discovered, which stated that the Edisons had visited the Gills at that time. Still, however, no contemporaneous account was known. If such a renowned figure visited the community, surely there would be at least a mention in the local press, would there not?
Again, that proof has now been located in the form of a Galion Inquirer article:
PROMINENT INVENTOR PAYS GALION VISIT
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Edison were Galion visitors for a short time this afternoon, stopping at the B.B. Gill home on West Main Street. Mrs. Gill and Mrs. Edison, who before her marriage was Miss Mina Miller of Akron, have been good friends since their girlhood days.
Mr. and Mrs. Edison together with Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford and Mr. and Mrs. H.F. Firestone had been on a camping trip in the northern part of Michigan. The Edisons were en route to their home at East Orange, N.J., by motor.
As has been shared here on 1831Galion, the Edisons are returning to Galion and the Gill House this August, 100 years after their last visit. More about that event can be read here.
The photo below shows what is believed to be Nellie Stewart Gill and Mina Miller Edison at an event in the early 1880s.
Photo: Preserving Galion, Inc.