May 7th is the birthday of Lizzie Crozier French—a woman of remarkable courage and energy.
Born as Margaret Elizabeth Crozier in 1851, Lizzie was the 5th child of 9, and the second daughter of John Hervey Crozier and Mary Williams Crozier. She was only 10 when the Civil War broke out and her parents sent her and the older children North to boarding schools to get them out of the war zone. Her parents then fled to Bristol, Virginia with the younger siblings.
She was married to William Baxter French on her 21st birthday. They had a son, William Williams French. Her husband died after just 18 months of marriage, leaving her with an infant son to raise alone.
With the same 24 hours in each day, as we have, she accomplished enormous things—always trying to make our community more fair, just, and caring. Just a year after her husband’s death she re-opened the Knoxville Female Institute—a place of higher education for women (the University of Tennessee did not admit women at that time). She founded the literary society, Ossoli Circle, Knoxville’s Equal Suffrage Association, Knoxville’s chapter of the National Women’s Party, successfully lobbied for a separate court system and jail for children, for female matrons for women prisoners, free lunches for schools, kindergarten for Knoxville children and much more. For more detail of her courageous and amazing accomplishments listen to this Otocast: