Born in Centralia Illinois in 1919, Edmonia Caesar Clayton (Mona Hinton) was the sixth of eight children.At the time of her birth, her family,like many others who were part of the Great Migration, was on their way from Mississippi to Ohio.
After completing high school in Sandusky, Ohio, Mona moved to Chicago and attended Poro College, a cosmetology school run by pioneering African American entrepreneur, Madam Annie Malone. Although Mona graduated, she realized that her true talents were in bookkeeping, not hair dressing, and she remained in Chicago as an assistant to Madam Malone.
Milt and Mona first met on the Southside of Chicago at Milt’s grandmother’s funeral in 1939 (Mona sang in Milt’s mother’s church choir), and they were inseparable for the next sixty-one years. Mona traveled extensively with Milt throughout his career. She was the only woman on the road with Cab’s band in the 1940s. According to Milt, she was instrumental in finding rooms and meals for band members, especially when the band worked in small towns during the Jim Crow era. She stopped traveling in 1949 when Charlotte, the Hintons’ daughter, was a toddler.
In the ‘50s and ‘60s when Milt was working day and night in the New York recording studios, Mona kept the books and made often-complicated transportation arrangements. And during the last two decades of his life, Milt and Mona got to travel to jazz festivals and clinics around the world - first class.
In 1958, at her husband’s request, Mona took the celebrated home movie footage of the Esquire Magazine photo shoot on a Harlem brownstone stoop that was memorialized in Jean Bach’s film, A Great Day in Harlem.
Mona returned to school in the '70s, earning bachelor and masters degrees at Queens College of the City University of New York. She taught at several Queens elementary schools, but gave up full-time work to accompany her husband in his travels.
Mona was always involved in charity work, often with her close friend and neighbor Catherine Basie. Along with Milt, she was also active in Queens-based community organizations, notably the St. Albans Congregational Church. The Hintons received dozens of awards and honors in recognition of their service.
Mona died on May 3, 2008 after a long illness. At the time, she was living at the Hinton family home on Milt Hinton Place in Queens. She is survived by her daughter, Charlotte Hinton-Morgan, a granddaughter Inez Mona Morgan, two great grandchildren, Kamyron and Joziah (all of Atlanta), her sister Mary Louise Bellamy of Sandusky, numerous nieces and nephews, and countless friends around the world.