Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cousin Zerelda of Indiana

Zerelda is the given name of my husband's 3rd cousin twice removed, the great-granddaughter of Hugh and Polly Cowden Rogers of Washington County, Pennsylvania. Her Cowden relatives were farmers and her Rogers family ran a livery, but Zerelda Margaret Rogers' father left Pennsylvania and started a real estate business in Indiana, where he raised two daughters.

With my husband's farming roots and my steelworker ancestors, our families didn't get mentioned in the society news section of papers. However, Zerelda had her photograph published in The Indianapolis Star twice.

Zerelda Rogers, age 6
The first time was in 1904, when she was a child:

"Zerelda Rogers, the little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank F. Rogers, 12 Woodruff place, has her photograph in the July issue of the Ladies' Home Journal as one of the 112 prettiest children in America. The little girl was honored by being one of those chosen from many hundreds. Zerelda is considered an especially beautiful child, and has a remarkably fine profile, Grecian in its lines. The photograph has been greatly admired, and art critics have commended it for its artistic qualities. The picture was taken two years ago, when the child was 6 years old. She is now a happy school girl, and, though she saw her photograph in the Journal, the fact did not make a deep impression on her young mind. Mrs. Rogers takes a mother's pride in her daughter's beauty, but modestly says that the photographer did much. The photograph took a prize at the Indiana state convention of the photographers last year and also at the New England convention."

Zerelda Rogers, age 20
Zerelda's photo also appeared in The Indianapolis Star in 1916, when she was 20 years old. The article describes her as one of the "social leaders of the city." There also are mentions in newspapers of Zerelda's return from a four-month tour of Europe in 1911, visits to the family's summer home in Michigan, and her debutante party in 1915. A very different life from her relatives back in Pennsylvania!

Zerelda married Courtland Whitney Knight in California in 1921, and they had two daughters, Cynthia and Nora. She filed for divorce in 1930 and remarried Courtland in 1937 in Denver. Zerelda grew up in Indiana but lived in California and New Mexico for most of her life. She died in 1991 at the age of 94.


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