"[My] mother was the making of me...[because] she was always so true and so sure of me and always made me feel that I had someone to live for and must not disappoint." (Thomas Edison)
Thomas Edison, the son of a Mackenzie rebellion participant and a former schoolteacher, was born in Milan, Ohio. After young Thomas' teacher said he refused to focus at school, he was home schooled by his mother. She exposed him to the classics, Shakespeare and Dickens. Edison's mother gave him an elementary science book. At age 9, Edison performed every experiment in the book. (http://www.patentdrafting.com/edison.htm)
Later, his family moved to Michigan. In his early teens, Edison was hired as a newsboy on the Grand Trunk Railway and rode the trains from Port Huron to Detroit and back. With hours to kill between trains, Edison visited the Detroit Free Library, one of their first patrons. He worked his way through every title in the library.
Eventually, he turned his focus to the library's science books. He set up a mini laboratory on the train where he performed experiments, marking his bottles with the word Poison so no one would touch them. One day, a stick of phosphorous rolled on the floor and ignited. The conductor booted him off the train, but not before he had learned something. (http://www.thomasedison.com/biography.html)
Edison's curiosity, which led to hundreds of inventions and patents, was peaked by his mother, and his exposure to books.
Edison's childhood home in Milan, Ohio courtesy http://milanarea.com/ma-EdisonHome-72912-hdr8735-7-1440.jpg.