Adelia M. Hoyt was born on December 3, 1865 in a prairie sod house near Cedar Falls, Iowa. At age five, Hoyt suffered a fever leading to degenerative eyesight. Recurring fevers during her childhood further damaged her vision as well as her physical health. As she grew older the fevers stopped and her physical health returned, but her eyesight had been permanently damaged. Her parents arranged for her to attend the Iowa School for the Blind. In 1915, Hoyt helped to establish the Iowa Home for Sightless Women, which provided housing and income for blind women.