About Zerelda Gray Wallace (Sanders)
Zerelda Gray Sanders Wallace (August 6, 1817 – March 19, 1901) was an early temperance and women's suffrage leader, a charter member of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Indianapolis, and stepmother of General Lew Wallace, author of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.
Early life and family
Born Zerelda Gray Sanders, August 7, 1817 in Bourbon County, Kentucky, she came to Indianapolis with her family in the early 1830s. She was a charter member of the Church of Christ in 1833 (later renamed Central Christian Church) which became the "mother church" of all Disciples of Christ congregations in Indianapolis. She was elected the first president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union of Indiana in 1874 and was a member of the Equal Suffrage Society of Indianapolis.
She married David Wallace on December 25, 1836; they had six children and she was stepmother to Wallace's three sons from his first marriage. David Wallace became the sixth governor of Indiana, serving from December 6, 1837 to December 9, 1840.
Temperance and suffrage leader
Wallace became a temperance leader first in the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, when in 1883 she refused communion at Central Christian Church because of her convictions about alcohol use and abuse. Her refusal eventually led to the use of grape juice rather than wine at communion celebrated during each worship service of the Disciples of Christ.
Wallace spoke nationally on temperance and suffrage. On January 21, 1875, she testified before the Indiana General Assembly, presenting 21,050 signatures on temperance petitions from 47 Indiana counties. On January 23, 1880, Wallace testified before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary on women's right to vote.
She died March 19, 1901 and was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.
An Indiana State Historical Marker was erected in Zerelda Wallace's honor in 2004 along Fort Wayne Avenue in downtown Indianapolis on the grounds of the Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The marker is located on Fort Wayne Avenue, an angle street, in the block between Alabama and Delaware Streets. Indiana's first female lieutenant governor, Kathy Davis, led the dedication ceremony for the marker.