• Heavy Machine Shop

    Thomas Edison

    National Historical Park New Jersey

Mary Stilwell Edison

Mary Stilwell Edison around the time of her marraige to Edison.

Mary Stilwell around the time of her marraige to Edison.

NPS Photo

Mary Stilwell was born in Newark, New Jersey on September 6, 1855, the daughter of Nicholas Stilwell and Margaret Crane. At his subsidiary, the News Reporting Telegraph Company in Newark, Edison had noticed the 16-year-old punching perforations into telegraph tape. She married the 24-year-old inventor on Christmas Day 1871. Even on his wedding day, Edison returned to his laboratory after the ceremony to work on the stock ticker. One story states that Edison worked late into the night, forgetting about his waiting bride.

 
Mary Stilwell in her late 20s.

Mary Stilwell Edison in her late 20s.

NPS Photo

W.K.L. Dickson, one of Edison's "muckers," wrote that Mary was "greatly beloved by the men in Edison's employ" at Menlo Park. "They were proud of her--for she had been one of their own rank in the Newark shop and yet remained as gracious and friendly to them as ever." Sadly, Mary's health deteriorated and she died on August 9, 1884 at the age of 29. Although many books say that Mary died of typhoid, her death certificate states that she died of "congestion of the brain." Mary and Thomas Edison had three children in their 13 years of marriage. However, since none of them had children of their own, there are no living direct descendants of Thomas and Mary Stilwell Edison.

 

Did You Know?

1888s photo of the Black Maria - the world's first motion picture studio.

West Orange, NJ, was the birthplace of motion pictures. In 1893, Thomas Edison built the first building for the recording of motion pictures. It was dubbed THE BLACK MARIA. It got its name because it was large and black and looked like the police wagons of the day, which were called black marias.