Maria Thompson Daviess was born on November 25, 1872 in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, United States. She was the daughter of John Burton Thompson and Leonora (Hamilton) Daviess.
Her father belonged to a family long prominent in Kentucky, and his mother, whose full name he gave to his daughter, was a woman of considerable literary interests and performance. He died early and his widow with her children took up residence at her family home, Nashville, Tennessee, United States. There, except for long visits to her father’s relatives in Kentucky, Maria spent all of her childhood.