WITH 71 CANDLES ON BIRTHDAY
CAKE MRS. L CROZIER FRENCH
REMINISCENCES ON THE PAST
A birthday cake with seventy-one
candles! That is what will be displayed today at the dinner to be given
in honor of the seventy-first birthday
of Mrs. Lucy Crozier French. Seventy-one years old—and yet as youthful in manner and as vigorous in
mind and body as though she were
many years younger, Mrs. French is
today one of the most interesting personages of Knoxville. Her memory is
richly stored With treasures of the
city's history. And her's has been no
mean part in making Knoxville history.
Born on the site where stands the
present building of The Knoxville
Sentinel, Mrs. French remembers the
time when Main street was the great
business district of Knoxville and Gay
its best residential section. When
she was two years old her father purchased the house where today towers
the Farragut Hotel. The old house
had been built by Mr. Hazen, and Mr.
Crozier bought it from Mr. Niles.
The residence was surrounded by a
fine lawn, bordered with sugar maple
trees, and here many a band of soldiers resting in Knoxville while en
route to Virginia during the Civil war
would lie down in the cool shadows
of the trees to sleep.
Had To Move Twice.
Mr. Crozier was a prominent Secessionist, and when Nashville fell, believing that East Tennessee would
succumb next to the triumphant arms
of the north, he moved his family to
Atlanta. But after a six months stay
there, the Crozier returned to Knoxville, where they remained until the
approach of General Burnside's army
made the fate of Knoxville uncertain,
when they took refuge in southwest
Virginia, at a town then known as
Liberty, and now called Bedford City.
It was two years after the war be-
fore they dared return in peace to
Knoxville where they now made their
Here in the gay period succeeding
the war, Lucy Crozier made her debut
into society, after completing her education at the Convent of Visitation at
Georgetown. Knoxville had never enjoyed so gay a time as during these
years, when the town was full of
young soldiers just returned from the
war, and every girl had more beaus
than she quite knew what to do with.
It was an informal society, with not
much money, but there was an abundance of fun and good spirits. So
numerous were the young men that
the rule was made that at a dance no
one could make an engagement for a
dance until the preceding one had
been called. This was to give an opportunity to the newcomers in the
town who wished to enjoy the company of the girls, and were apt to be
crowded out by the boys who had long
resided in Knoxville.
Played In Dramatics.
A weekly dance was given by the
Young Men's Dancing club at the old
Union Bank which stood opposite Ed
McMillan's present home on Main,
street. Mr. Hodgson, brother of
Frances Hodgson Burnett, a musical
genius of note, and organist at the
First Presbyterian church played the
piano in the band, and gave to the
young people such music as has seldom been enjoyed since. Mrs. Burnett was frequently seen at these
weekly entertainments. At one time
she played the comedy woman's part
in "She Stoops To Conquer," when
Mrs. French acted the leading role as
Miss Hardcastle. So gifted was Mrs.
Burnett on the stage that many of
her friends believed that had she not
devoted herself to literature she might
easily have attained fame as an actress.
At the age of twenty-one, just fifty
years ago today, Lucy Crozier became
the bride of W. B. French. The two
had grown up together, and after a
separation during the war, the old
acquaintanceship blossomed into romance. At that time Mr. French was
cashier at Cowan McClung's but later became the first cashier of the
East Tennessee Bank.
Only a few months after the marriage, Mrs. French was left a widow
by the sudden death of her husband.
Left to face the world at a time when
most young girls are just beginning to
enjoy life, she went heroically to work
to forget her sorrow. In company
with her sister, she founded a school
called the The Knoxville Female Institute, and here some of the boys
and girls from the best families in
Knoxville received the foundations of
a good education. The school was es-
tablished in September and in November Mrs. French organized Ossoli
Society, now the leading woman's
club of the city.
Became Leader of Women.
At a time when women were not
supposed to take a great interest in
any activities save those of home and
society, Mrs.. French became a leader
among women. She founded the Woman's Industrial Union and through
it got the city to established the office of police matron,. Later through
this same organization, she persuaded
the county to establish the Knox
County Industrial School, but it was
not until the efficiency of women in
social service was acknowledged, and
they were given a place on the board
that this institution became of real
value to the people it was intended to
The first kindergarten in Knoxville
also owed its beginning to Mrs.
French who pointed out the need for
such a work to the King's Daughters.
She also was a member of the board
that helped to establish the first hospital in Knoxville.
Among the various capacities in
which Mrs. French has served the
women of Knoxville and Tennessee
are those as president of the Tennessee Equal Suffrage League, when she
organized in 1910 the first suffrage
league in the state in Knoxville; as
state vice-president of the Parent-
Teachers' Association; as president of
the Tennessee Federation of Woman's
Clubs, and today as parliamentarian
for the same federation.
Although so prominent in city and
state affairs, Mrs. French has always
been a devoted home woman, and is
very proud of her tall son, who has
returned from his home in Birmingham to celebrate his mother's seventy-first birthday, and the fiftieth anniversary of her marriage. She is also a devoted grandmother to the two
stalwart children of her son. Capable and charming, Mrs. French is a
woman of whom Knoxville may well
be proud. Indeed we may say with
assurance that Knoxville extends to
Mrs. French heartiest congratulations
and good wishes on this happy occasions. May there be many returns of
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