Woman of the Century/Zerelda Gray Wallace
WALLACE, Mrs. Zerelda Gray, reformer, born in Millersburg. Bourbon county, Ky , 6th August, 1817. She is the daughter of Dr. John H. Sanders and Mrs. Polly C. Gray Sanders. Her father was of South Carolina descent, and her mother a member of the Singleton family. Zerelda was the oldest of five daughters. ZERELDA GRAY WALLACE. She received as good an education as could be had in the Blue Grass Region schools of those early days. When she was ten years old. she attended a grammar-school taught by Miss Childs, a Massachusetts woman. In 1828 she entered a boarding-school in Versailles, Ky., where she remained two years, studying science and history, mythology and composition. In 1830 her father removed to New Castle, Ky. At a sale of public lands in Indianapolis he purchased his homestead, and removed to Indiana and built up a large practice. After leaving Kentucky, Zerelda had only limited opportunities for education, only enjoying six months of study with a cultured Baptist clergyman. She assisted her father in his practice and became interested in medicine. She read works on hygiene, mental philosophy and other elevating subjects, and was acquainted with many prominent men. In 1836, in December, she became the wife of Hon. David Wallace, soldier and jurist, and then Lieutenant-Governor of Indiana. He was a widower of thirty-seven, with a family of three sons. In 1837 he was elected Governor of the State, and in 1840 he went to Congress as a Whig. During his term Mrs. Wallace spent some time in Washington, D. C., with him. She urged him to vote against the Fugitive Slave Law, and she shared all his reading in law, politics and literature. Six children were born to them. They reared their family carefully, cultivating their particular talents, and developing all their powers in every way. Mr. Wallace died in 1857, and he left his family no estate beyond their homes. Not wishing to accept assistance from her relatives, who tendered it freely and in full measure for all her needs, Mrs. Wallace opened her home to boarders and supported the family until they were able to care for themselves. Two of her daughters died, one in youth, the other after marriage. All her living children have succeeded in life. Her husband's children by his first wife included General Lewis Wallace, the soldier, jurist, scholar, statesman and author of the immortal "Ben Hur." General Wallace never refers to her as "stepmother," but always as "mother." She is a member of the Christian Church and has often spoken in its mission meetings. She was one of the crusaders and joined the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, in which she has done a good deal of valuable service. She spoke before the Indiana legislature in advocacy of temperance, and was soon after a pronounced woman suffragist. As a delegate to temperance conventions she has addressed large audiences in Boston, Mass., Saratoga Springs, N. Y., St. Louis, Mo., Detroit. Mich., Washington, D. C., Philadelphia, Pa., and other cities. Her physical and intellectual powers are yet full. Her mental characteristics are of the stripe usually labeled "masculine." She is living in Indianapolis, surrounded by her children and grandchildren.