Born near Lake City, Columbia County, Florida on August 8, 1868, Thomas Maximus Rivers was the fourth of nine children born to Susan Amanda Walston and Lewis William Rivers. After a general education, he attended the Medical College of South Carolina and graduated in the class of 1900. While attending medical school, Thomas and Rosalie Clare Godfrey married on September 4, 1895 in Lake Park, Georgia. Thomas began his medical profession in Lake Park where he and Rosalie had three sons, but by 1902 only their third son remained. It appears Thomas and Rosalie’s marriage ended shortly afterwards and Thomas married Roberta Peterson about 1903. They added two daughters to the family and in January of 1906 the family arrived in Kissimmee, Florida where Thomas embarked on a thirty-seven year practice.