Edwards' father died when he was a young boy and he stayed to work the family farm until his ambitions compelled him to engage in other business. He took work with the railroads as a brakeman and conductor, but left in the 1850s to trade in scrap iron at Wheeling, West Virginia. While there he began doing contracting work and helped assemble several furnaces in the upper Ohio Valley.
It was there he became associated with the Woodward family and accompanied them to the Birmingham District in 1880 as a foreman. He bought a large tract of land in what is now Brighton and surveyed and subdivided much of it for sale as lots— publicizing the area's virtues and extending credit to families in order to secure the success of the venture. He constructed the first Methodist church and school in the community and operated a mercantile store.
Edwards married the former Amanda Johnson of Baltimore, Maryland and had five children: Charles, George J., Cary, Harry and Jesse.
- Cruikshank, George H. (1920) History of Birmingham and Its Environs: A Narrative Account of Their Historical Progress, Their People, and Their Principal Interests 2 volumes. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections