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Zerelda Meroe Bainbridge Spiers Smith Mystery
Posted by: Susan Heller (ID *****0063) Date: March 29, 2007 at 12:05:29
  of 525

Please dig deep into your Bainbridge histories to try to help me solve this mystery. Who were Zerelda Smith's parents?

Here is what I know:

-My grandfather was Niles Bainbridge Smith
-His parents were Joseph Clay Smith, Jr and Eunice Niles.
-Joseph Clay Smith's parents were Joseph Clay Smith I and Zerelda ??. Joseph Jr's sister was Zulima Smith.
-Zerelda was born in Missouri in Feb 1814 according to census records. Her parents were born in Kentucky.
-One of my aunts thought Zerelda's last name was Meroe. I found a document that Zerelda signed as Georgiana Z. Smith and stated Zulima's middle name began with an "M." M could be for Meroe and maybe my aunt confused the two women. I never heard the Georgiana name before, but if her father was named George, it fits.
-I found a marriage certificate that states Surelda Spiers and Joseph Smith were married in Alexander County, IL in 1866. Census records place Joseph and Zerelda in Cairo, IL at that time and corroborate the time of marriage even though the name is misspelled.
-Family lore says Zerelda had an affair with an aide of U.S. Grant in Cairo during the Civil War.
-Another relative says that Zerelda is the daughter of George Clay and Amira Bainbridge. That family tree says that George first married Almira Bainbridge and they had Littleberry and William Clay. Amira was supposedly the second wife and she had Zerelda and George Clay II. I have been unable to corroborate that information so I think that the Clays may be from the Smith side of the family.
-The Absalom Bainbridge family includes girls named Zerelda, Zulim(n)a and Mero(l)e. In my world, those are very rare names so I think I am descended from this line of Bainbridges. But it is such a huge family, I'm not sure how.
-Absalom Bainbridge has a daughter named Mero(l)e who married a George Spires. Meroe was born in 1807 and would have been 34 when Zerelda was born. Could these be Zerelda's parents?? Or was Zerelda married to a Spiers before she married Joseph Smith? Or maybe she was adopted by a relative?

Sorry for including so much detail, but I'm just throwing everything up against the wall to see what sticks. I've been working on this mystery for a long time, so any help will be appreciated.

Susan Heller

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