Jane Marsh Parker was born on June 16, 1836 in Milan, Dutchess County, New York, United States. She was the youngest and third daughter of Joseph and Sarah (Adams) Marsh, who were both descended from native families prominent in the American Revolution. She was christened Permelia Jenny, but she later adopted the name Jane. At the time of her birth her father was pastor of the Christian (Campbellite) Church in Milan, and when she was two years old the family moved to Union Mills, Fulton County, New York, where Elder Marsh served as pastor of the Campbellite church, editor of the Christian Publishing Association, and of the Christian Palladium, the weekly paper of the sect, and was also the local postmaster. In 1843 her parents became followers of William Miller and early in 1844 the family moved to Rochester, where her father edited the weekly journal and numerous other publications of the Millerite movement. This experience with religious hysteria and fanaticism injured the spirit of the young girl whose childhood was oppressed by a sense of impending doom.