Historical evidence strongly indicates that it was Mary Ann DuPont (Lines) who initiated the founding of the Philomathean Society and, in doing so, brought the idea to two friends: Mary Elizabeth Myrick (Daniel) and Martha Bibb Hardaway (Redding) on January 4, 1852.
Born on May 28, 1836 in Quincy, Florida, Mary Ann DuPont was the third child of prominent lawyer Charles Henry DuPont and his wife Mary Ann DeGraffenreid Hobson. Mary Ann was said to have a fair complexion, long curly auburn hair, and dark brown eyes. She was noted for her genteel ways and her kind and gracious manner. After completion of a preparatory course at a private school in Quincy, Mary Ann entered Wesleyan College on October 7, 1851 at the age of 15 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1853. Less than a year later, Mary Ann married her brother-in-law, Joseph Robinson Lines on January 31, 1854, and they made their home in Jacksonville, Florida. Joseph had previously been married to Mary Ann's older sister, Eliza Frances, but her untimely death just six months into their marriage in 1851 left him a young widower. Mary Ann and Joseph had four children: Joseph Frank, Sara Ann, William DuPont, and Mary Eliza; only Joseph and Mary Eliza lived passed young adulthood. Joseph died suddenly at the age of 38 of double pneumonia. A widow at 32, Mary Ann never remarried. The only founder to see the Philomathean Society become Phi Mu, Mary Ann DuPont Lines died at the age of 81 on January 4, 1918, exactly 66 years after she founded the Philomathean Society. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville, Florida.
Mary Elizabeth Myrick, born on May 18, 1835, was the oldest of the Philomathean Founders at 16 years old. She was the only daughter of General Stith Parham Myrick of Georgia and his wife, whose name is disputed and was either Frances Peebles or Elizabeth Peeples. Mary Elizabeth was said to have been timid and retiring in nature with a sweet face, dark hair, and dark eyes. Mary Elizabeth graduated from Wesleyan in 1853 and, in 1857, married Henry Kelse Daniel, a Sumter County planter and eventual Confederate Major during the Civil War. Mary Elizabeth and Henry had six children, but only two would outlive their mother: Myrick Daniel and Lila Peebles Daniel. Like Mary Ann, Mary Elizabeth also became a widow at a young age when her husband died in 1870. Although still a young woman, Mary Elizabeth's health declined after her husband's death and she passed away at age 46 on July 14, 1881. She is buried beside her husband in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Amercus, Georgia.
The youngest Philomathean Founder, Mary Bibb Hardaway, was born on Octber 9, 1836 in Columbus, Georgia to Robert Stanfield Hardaway and Martha Bibb Jarrett. "Bibb," as Martha Bibb Hardaway was called, first attended Slade's Academy in Columbus before entering Wesleyan College in 1851 and graduating in 1853. Bibb was described as a studious and talented girl with an personality that radiated "an atmosephere of refinement and culture." Proving her friends wrong when they said Bibb was "doomed to be an old maid," Martha married James T. Redding at the age of 24 on March 12, 1861. Initially moving west to Texas and Louisiana with her widower husband and his four children, Martha and her family returned to Macon, Georgia in 1865 after they faced bankrupcy in the post-Civil War years. Martha Hardaway Redding died at the age of 57 on October 15, 1893 and is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Macon.