Lelia “Lillie” Tuckett Freeze (1855-1937)

Happy Women’s History Month.

Meet Lillie Tuckett Freeze. Actress, writer, mother, activist!

Lillie performed with her mother, Mercy, on stage for a theater company in Salt Lake City, but when the theater company disbanded, Mercy abandoned her family to pursue her theatrical career.

At age five or six, Lillie and her grandmother WALKED three hundred miles to Saint George, UT, and a year later, walked BACK three hundred miles to Salt Lake.

Like her mother, Lillie was an actress, and also a writer for the Deseret News, the Women’s Exponent, the Improvement Era, and the Young Woman’s Journal.

She joined the Young Ladies Retrenchment Society, an organization within the newly formed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The society gathered twice monthly to to further women’s social causes and education.

As a counselor in her church’s Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Society, Lillie spoke from the pulpit on October 18, 1880 when few women in America were speaking from the pulpit anywhere in America. This sermon was later published in the Women’s Exponent.

Here is a gem (she doesn’t hold back):

We scarcely stop to think seriously upon any subject but fashion. Many of our aspirations reach no further than the feather that floats over our heads. Our eyes see little but the failings of each other, and our ears are open to scandal and prejudice, while our lips are but the servants of our idle, giddy brain. We are too easily satisfied with ourselves and our labors. While the great work of life rolls on constantly, calling for earnest, busy laborers in the cause of humanity, we, in our wild mania after pleasure, rush blindfolded past every avenue of doing good…while our hungry, starved spiritual natures must stand aside and wait the time when they will be allowed to plead their just cause without being forever silenced by the harsh, unfeeling voice of our own selfish natures.”

I’m interested in Lillie’s unusual profession as an actress and writer in the 1800’s, coupled with her faith and confidence to speak so boldly about depth of character and the importance of this life.

Stay tuned for more interesting women in history…!

Source: At the Pulpit, Reeder and Holbrook

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