Mary Ann DuPont Lines is referred to in several instances as “the Founder” of the Philomathean Society. Certainly she displayed her outstanding leadership in assuming the first presidency of this new organization in 1852. She was the only one of the three Founders to live to see the Philomathean Society become Phi Mu Fraternity.
Mary Ann was born on May 28, 1836, (the year Wesleyan College was
chartered as Georgia Female College), in the little town of Quincy, Florida. She lived in a large and elegant Colonial home in Quincy – described as “a capacious mansion which was the seat of refinement and hospitality.” The family had an extensive plantation two miles out from town.
Mary Ann was the third oldest of eight children. Her father was Charles Henry DuPont, a prominent lawyer and one of the first judges of the Supreme Court of Florida and later its chief justice. He had been elected to represent his county in the Florida House of Representatives and then Senate and was chosen as a general for the Indian Wars of 1836. In the course of his lifetime, he lost his great wealth because of loans to friends and failure of a bank with which he was connected, but he set to work and amassed a second fortune even greater than the first. He died in 1877, and it is said he was buried at “Wildwood,” one of his three plantations, now divided into residential and business developments. He was of French descent, tracing his lineage to Rouen, France, in the 1500s.
Mary Ann’s mother was Mary Ann deGraffenreid Hobson of Greensboro, Alabama. The family traced its ancestry to Baron Christopher deGraffenreid V, who was born in Switzerland in 1661 and brought the Palatines to America and founded New Bern, North Carolina. He was a wealthy nobleman of great civic interest and the owner of Worb Castle in Bern, Switzerland.
A Southern gentleman, Judge DuPont was the patriarch of his family’s life and a staunch Methodist. Because of the church’s connection with Wesleyan Female College and because of its reputation for close supervision and excellent training of its young women students, Wesleyan was chosen for Mary Ann to attend after completion of a preparatory course in a private school in Quincy.
She entered Wesleyan on October 7, 1851, at the age of 15. After two years she was graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1853. She was described as a studious and talented young lady. A Master of Arts degree was conferred upon her in 1863, as it was then the custom of the College to award such degrees to distinguished students 10 years after graduation.
In her first year at Wesleyan, which she entered with junior class status, the Philomathean Literary Society was founded. In the Alpha Registry, Mary Ann’s initiation date is given simply as “1852.”
Less than a year after her graduation from Wesleyan, Mary Ann was married to Joseph Robinson Lines, who was her brother-in-law. The marriage took place on January 31, 1854, and they made their home in Jacksonville, Florida. Joseph had married Mary Ann’s older sister, Eliza Frances, in 1851, but Eliza was thrown from a horse-drawn carriage and killed during the first six months of their marriage, shortly before her 19th birthday. When Mary Ann graduated she asked permission to wear to the ceremony a brooch made from her sister’s hair, a customary sign of mourning in that era.
Four children were born to Mary Ann and Joseph. The oldest was Joseph Frank Lines, who became a prosperous businessman and educator in Quincy. The first daughter, Sara Ann Lines, died at the age of 16, and another son, William DuPont, was killed in a train accident as a young man. The fourth child was Mary Eliza, who married Samuel C. Harrison and resided in Jacksonville. In later years, Mary Ann made her home with her daughter in Jacksonville.
Mary Ann had five grandchildren, and she received great satisfaction in offering her family a happy and well-ordered home life. She was a deeply religious woman, and her life reflected her strong faith. The family affectionately called her “Mudder,” apparently a child-inspired name for mother or grandmother.
Joseph died suddenly of double pneumonia at the age of 38 and left Mary Ann widowed at 32. She never remarried.
As a young girl, Mary Ann DuPont was lovely, with fair complexion, long curly auburn hair and dark brown eyes. In her later years, she still made a stately appearance, always attired in long black skirts with either white or black shirtwaists. She was noted for her genteel ways and her kind and gracious manner.
At the age of 81, Mary Ann DuPont Lines died on January 4, 1918, at the home of her daughter Mary Eliza Harrison in Jacksonville. Her death occurred exactly 66 years to the day after the secret founding of the Philomathean Society. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville. A monument in the shape of the Phi Mu badge marks her resting place.
After her death, her daughter and son presented to Phi Mu Fraternity Mary
Ann’s graduation essay and ribbon, as well as a picture. The original Philomathean badge, made from a $20 gold piece presented to her by her father when she left for Wesleyan, is also in the Phi Mu archives.
A younger sister, Ermine Elizabeth DuPont Malone, became a Philomathean in 1860 and attended Wesleyan for three years but because of ill health did not graduate. Ermine Malone Brabham, her daughter and a niece of Mary Ann’s, was a Philomathean and Wesleyan graduate of 1880. Among other known descendants who became Phi Mus were great-great-grand daughters Barbara Gayle Fassoux, Lambda, Kathryn Thornton Dill, Alpha Zeta. Elizabeth Woodward pledged at Alpha Nu Chapter in February 2001.
A granddaughter of Mary Ann’s, Sarah Elizabeth Lines Munroe, was initiated into Phi Mu’s Alpha Epsilon Chapter at Florida State University March 12, 1938. She attended a portion of the 1938 National Convention and delivered one of the toasts for the closing banquet. For this occasion Sarah wore about her shoulders a rose and white shawl made by Mary Ann in her later years and given to Sarah’s mother to keep for Sarah, who was born just three months after Mary Ann’s death.
Source: Lamb, Annadell. C. The History of Phi Mu: The First 150 Years. The Grace Group, 2002. Print