Mary Reed was born in Lowell, Ohio, on December 4, 1854, just four years after the town incorporated. She was the oldest of four boys and four girls. Her father was a harness maker.
She taught for several years and then answered the call to go to mission work with the women of India, with the Methodist Episcopal Church.
She went to India in 1884, but was forced to leave and go to the Himalayas to recover her health. While there, she visited a leper colony and worked for four years before being forced to return home because of health problems.
While home, she went to have a black spot on her finger, a spot on her cheek, and one on her ear treated. The doctors could not recognize it. She began studying everything she could find on leprosy, and shared with her doctors her findings that explained her poor health. At this point, she knew that God wanted her to spend her life helping lepers, not just because she had the painful and disfiguring disease, but because they were an abandoned people in need of help.
Now that she was one of them, and understood them better, she could to help their dire situation. While working in a leper colony, she was miraculously cured of it. Mostly on her own, her work produced a church, chapels, improved housing, and a self-supporting colony.
F.B. Meyer met her in India and she left a lasting impression on him. He was impressed at the difficulty he had of leaving her loved ones and going to live and work with lepers, once she had the disease herself. It was such a tough decision that she could not bear to tell her family good-bye. He marvelled that she did not have a word of murmur or complaint over the many elements of suffering she had observed and experienced. Instead she reveled in the opportunities she had to help these isolated people and see so many accept the salvation of God, and commit themselves to faithful service.
After 52 years of missionary service, she retired at the age of 84, and then passed away in Chandag Heights, India, a year later, on April 4, 1943.
Mary Hammack, L., A Dictionary of Women in Church History, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997, c1984). “Reed, Mary.”
George Grant & Gregory Wilbur The Christian Almanac (Nashville: Cumberland 2000), pp. 312-313.
John Jackson, Mary Reed: Missionary to the Lepers. (London: Marshall Brothers, 1899), frontispiece, pp. ix, x.
Norris F. Schneider. Washington County History: History of Lowell and Adams Township. (Lowell, OH: Midwest Book Co. 1946)
as found on http://www.rootsweb.com/~ohwashin/history-lowell-adamstwp.html