Holly Johnson: Lizzie Hormel: full of ambition

Published 6:30 am Saturday, February 27, 2021

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As often happens around the Hormel Historic Home, we start out researching one topic and end up with more information than anticipated.

For the upcoming History Happy Hour program on Monday, March 8, we planned to share the history of the very active and enriching Art & Travel Club that was started in 1903. Wendy Larson, local history buff and volunteer, has been going through old minutes and scrapbooks from the club and will share interesting details of the group’s programs. 

George Hormel’s sister Elizabeth, also known as Lizzie, started the club, so we determined that you should learn more about her and about the legacy she left in the community as well. You’ll get a glimpse into the woman whom 10 younger siblings looked up to with great admiration.  The Hormel family was very close knit and Lizzie was held in high regard by all.

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George reflected on her after a visit to his family in about 1878. “My elder sister, Elizabeth, had grown into a young lady during my absence. Still at home and Mother’s chief lieutenant, she was full of ambitions and plans for a career other than housework.”

William Henry wrote about Lizzie in his family manuscript entitled “One Generation Under the American Flag”:

“From early girlhood her chief concern has been the general welfare of us all, and for God’s children in all the world. I have heard father and mother often mention the fact that Elizabeth was a very precocious child, and early developed the qualities of character which resulted in making her a true helper and leader …”

Though she only attained an eighth grade education, she was an inspiration to her younger siblings in every aspect of their lives. She took them to Sunday school and encouraged them to actively participate in the church. William Henry wrote, “She made friends easily because she loved all kinds of people. She enjoyed the association with old and young in the community both in church and school life.”

In 1895, Lizzie moved to Austin as so many of the family had come here already, and she brought her love and passion for art with her. She taught art at the Albert Lea College, served as a director in George’s meat packing business in 1907 and was active in many civic organizations, including the Art & Travel Club.

For 14 months in 1913 and 1914, she traveled through Europe and Asia and was able to embrace the world. Being the oldest child in such a large family came with responsibilities, but it seems to have allowed Lizzie a life filled with love and adventure. Hear more at History Happy Hour on March 8. Call to reserve your spot.

Upcoming Events

History Happy Hour-Let Me Introduce You to Lizzie Hormel

6 p.m., Monday, March 8

Limited capacity. Free for members of the HHH, Mower County Historical Society and Friends of the Library. $5 for nonmembers

  Wedding & Event Showcase

10-1:30 p.m., Sunday, March 21

$5 per person

Old Time Radio Shows via Zoom

Saturday, March 13: “Murder Through the Looking Glass”

Friday, March 26: Broadway’s “My Beat: The Howard Crawford Murder Case”

$10 per household; Purchase at www.hormelhistorichome.org