Feds check out Edison

MILAN Thomas Edison didn't invent the iPod - but every device for listening to recorded
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Thomas Edison didn’t invent the iPod — but every device for listening to recorded music is descended from his invention of the phonograph.

He didn’t invent the DVD player you’ll use to watch a movie this weekend — but he invented movies, creating the motion picture industry.

He lived in New Jersey for much of his life. But he was born in Milan and lived there for his first seven years.

Milan’s residents are proud of their native son, and they’re doing their best to make sure he is honored with a statue at the U.S. Capitol. They turned out in force Friday when the

National Statuary Collection Study Committee

visited Milan.

Every state is represented by two statues in National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. Ohio’s statues honor President James Garfield and William Allen, a former Ohio governor. Ohio officials plan to keep Garfield but bring Allen’s statue back to Ohio, replacing him with a better-known and better-regarded Ohio hero.

The statuary panel, chaired by state Sen. Mark Wagoner, R-Ottawa Hills, is supposed to recommend a replacement for Allen.

Allen (1803-1879) also was a congressman. When he’s remembered at all, he’s recalled as a “Copperhead” Democrat who sympathized with the South during the Civil War and denounced Abraham Lincoln. Wagoner did not mention this Friday but said only that Allen is being replaced by someone who would better represent Ohio values.

Private funds will be raised to pay for the new statue, Wagoner said. He said his panel hopes to finish work by May 2010.

It was in Milan where Edison “started the foundation of his great abilities,” said Sparky Weilnau, a Milan Township trustee.

Edison’s fame is hardly confined to his hometown, speakers reminded the crowd assembled in Milan’s town square Friday morning.

Mayor Robert Bickley pointed out that Edison is recalled in a monument in Yawata City, Japan, the source of the bamboo used for the first light bulb filament.

“He’s known all over the world, unlike probably any other person,” said Robert K.L. Wheeler, who is related to Edison and lives on Edison’s sister’s farm near Milan. He is honored in Shinto shrines in Japan, Wheeler noted.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, called the event a “historic moment.”

For Friday’s event, organized by local historian Jennie Henry, Wagoner brought along other members of his committee, including State Sen. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo; state Rep. Tom Letson, D-Warren, and Rep. Tyrone Yates, D-Cincinnati.

The Edison Marching Band also performed several songs.

Letson, co-chairman of the committee, noted that Ohio has many other heroes worth honoring. The Warren area was the home of the Packard brothers and attorney Clarence Darrow and Harriet Taylor Upton, a leader in helping women win the right to vote and the first woman on the national Republican Party’s executive committee.

State. Rep. Dennis Murray Jr., D-Sandusky, also attended to show his support for the cause.

“All of you have to be even-handed and neutral in the process,” he told Wagoner’s committee. “I don’t. This is the right choice.”