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Mary F. Thomas (October 28, 1816 - August 19, 1888)
The daughter of Quakers Samuel and Mary Myers, Mary was native to Montgomery County, Maryland. While a young girl, the family lived in Washington DC. Her father took her to Congressional debates, igniting a lifelong interest in politics in the young girl. While in Washington, her father became active in the abolitionist movement. To escape the blemish of slavery, Samuel moved the family to a farm in New Lisbon, Ohio. She and her two sisters learned farm work and gained their education while their father tutored them in the evenings. In Lisbon She met, and married, Quaker Dr. Owen Thomas in 1839. The two would have three daughters.
Dr. Thomas took her to Wabash College in Indiana to study medicine. She would later attend medical lectures at the Penn's Medical College for Women in Philadelphia. She graduated from Penn in 1854 and moved to Fort Wayne Indiana to practice medicine. The family moved to Richmond, Indiana in 1856 and resided there the remainder of their lives.
While living in Lisbon, she attended a lecture given by women's suffrage advocate Lucretia Mott. She would later become active in the women's suffrage movement, serving as the president of the Indiana Woman’s Rights Association in 1859. She became the first woman to address the Indiana State Legislature when she presented a petition for a woman’s suffrage amendment to the Indiana Constitution. She was active in the Indiana Women’s Rights Association and would become the first female member of the State Medical Association.
Women's rights activists formed the Indiana Woman’s Rights Association in Richmond, Indiana in October 1851. Hannah Hiatt of Winchester served as president and Amanda Way as vice-president. The organization was active for a number of years, and then became inactive for about ten years. It reorganized as the Indiana Woman's Suffrage Association in 1869.
Civil War Years
During the Civil War, she Indiana Governor Morton sent her to transport medical supplies to the war front as part of the Sanitary Commission by steamboat. On her return to Indiana, she helped care for wounded Union troops. After the war, she became active with the Home for Friendless Women, a cause she would continue until her death on August 19, 1888.