Dress reform activist Mary Edwards Walker was born in a house on Bunker Hill Road outside Oswego on November 26, 1832, the youngest of seven children of physician Alvah Walker and his wife Vesta Whitcomb Walker. (Her mother hailed from the same family as Margaret Whitcomb, a grandmother of freethinking orator Robert Green Ingersoll; this made Mary a second cousin of Ingersoll’s.) Though Christians, the elder Walkers were very much “free thinkers” and shared an advanced social outlook. They were determined that their six daughters should enjoy the same educational opportunities as their son—something they could easily ensure, having donated Oswego’s first free school house. Outside of school hours, the Walkers encouraged their children to think independently and allowed their girls to wear less restrictive boys’ clothing when performing farm labor.