She was born to George and Anna Frances Haggard Leftwich in Boma, TN. She had three sisters and four brothers. Mary was the second child born to George and Anna. She lost her older sister Virginia when she was 15 years old and her father George a year later. After her father died she had to work in the family farm fields to help support the family. Her mother later sent her to Pleasant Hill Academy near Crossville, TN. for higher education. She later married a man named Haskel Ellis and they produced 1 son (Kenneth). Kenneth died at the beginning of the Great Depression (1929) and her husband died in 1958. She remained a widow till her dying day. After her husband died she went to live with one of her youngest brothers (Sam Leftwich).