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Mina and Delany: The Mina Edison Connection

March 12, 2017

By Lilly Hart

In February 1886, a year after the passing of his first wife, Thomas Edison married Mina Miller. Mina, who was raised in Akron, Ohio, came from a family that highly valued education, and instilled those values in Mina.

After they married, the couple moved to Fort Myers, Florida where Mina became an active community member. Because of the status of her husband, Mina never received the recognition she deserved for her persistent community work. However, she devoted her life to local, regional, and national activities. After a trip to New York to meet with the Chautauqua Women’s Club, Mina founded her own GFWC club in Fort Myers. The group grew quickly, and Mina invited a close friend from nearby LaBelle, Mrs. B.L. Dulaney, to attend the club meetings. Soon, Mrs. Dulaney had several cars full of women making the trip to attend the meetings. After several packed meetings, Mina approached Mrs. Dulaney and proposed that she start her own group in LaBelle. On February 3, 1930, LaBelle Community Woman’s Club (LCWC) became a reality.

LCWC hit the ground running and housed the first circulating library in 1931. The women planted trees along the major roads, set trash cans on street corners, and encouraged the city to pass ordinances to keep the town free from rubbish. During the Great Depression, the club continued to sponsor libraries, solve school problems, beautify communities, and assist in welfare work. Members devoted their efforts to war related projects during World War II and sewed for the Red Cross, participated in Bundles for Britain, helped with bond sales, and planted victory gardens.

Early special projects of the clubwomen also included forest conservation. The Royal State Park was presented to the United States government in a ceremony on December 6, 1947. At the ceremony, attended by President Harry S Truman, Florida clubwoman Mrs. W. S. Jennings was cited for her foresight in securing the lands, and GFWC Florida was cited for keeping the park open to the public. This park became the Florida Everglades National Park.

Over 119 years since its inception, the members of the GFWC Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs are still committed to identifying the needs of the local community and working to meet those needs through community service projects.

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