Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Zilla (Mrs. C.E.) Rose, 1884-1979

By Amanda Ritter-Maggio, English Instructor, University of Arkansas Community College at Hope-Texarkana

On January 10, 1884, Zilla Ward was born into one of the most wealthy and influential families in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her parents were Zeb Ward, Jr., who was born in Kentucky, and Mary Louise “Mamie” Logan Ward, who was born in Maine. Zilla was the oldest of five children; her siblings included Zeb III., born in 1886; Didley, born in 1890; and Louise, born in 1892. Her paternal grandfather, referred to as “Col. Zeb Ward” in the newspapers, worked as a contractor and won several bids to build waterworks for the city of Little Rock, among other accomplishments. After financing the construction of a railroad between the cities of Little Rock and Hot Springs, Col. Ward was elected President of the Little Rock and Hot Springs Railway, while Zeb Jr. was elected Secretary. According to his obituary, Col. Ward was said to have left behind an estate worth over $500,000.

As a teenager, Zilla was a popular socialite in Little Rock. Her 1906 debutante ball, a lavish affair, was chronicled in detail in the Arkansas Democrat and was hosted by Mr. and Mrs. George B. Rose. On July 19, 1907, Zilla married the Roses' son, Clarence Edward, in Little Rock. Clarence had recently returned to Little Rock after graduating from Cornell University; he worked as an electrical and mechanical engineer and served as a captain in the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. Zilla's mother died just over a year later, on July 23, 1909. The 1910 Census lists Zeb Ward Jr. as head-of-house, with Clarence and Zilla living with him along with Zilla's siblings Didley and Louise.

Zilla was an early promoter of the women's suffrage movement in Arkansas. As early as 1913, she was a member of the Little Rock Women's Suffrage Association and Political Equality League and was serving as a member of the League's State Organization Committee. She and Alice Sankey Ellington agreed to travel to Hot Springs in June of 1913 with the goal of starting a Hot Springs chapter of the Political Equality League. She was one of the featured speakers on the steps of the Old State House at the state's first Suffrage Day celebration in May of 1914. Along with four other suffragists, she spoke to large audiences at the Arkansas State Fair in Hot Springs in November of 1914. She was a regular speaker at Political Equality League meetings in 1915.

1916 was a busy year for Zilla and the other Little Rock suffragists. When Alice Paul spoke at a Little Rock Congressional Union meeting in January of 1916, Zilla served as an usher. Carrie Chapman Catt visited Little Rock in early April of 1916; she lectured at Kempner Theatre and was the guest of honor at a Political Equality League luncheon. Zilla was in charge of organizing the luncheon and also addressed the audience alongside other prominent state suffragists. She was asked to give a talk at the State Federation of Women's Clubs semi-annual meeting in Conway, AR on April 20, 1916. That summer, she traveled with other Arkansas suffragists to the Democratic National Convention in St. Louis to march in a parade and lobby the party to include woman suffrage on its platform. She helped arrange and host a suffrage dance and art show in December of 1916. In March of 1917, Zilla was among the first women in Little Rock to pay their poll taxes and register to vote in primary elections.

In addition to her suffrage activism, Zilla served on many boards and committees, beginning in 1903 with the Civic Improvement Committee. She served on the Little Rock Board of Trade Ladies' Committee in 1907, the Arkansas Association of Public Utility Operators Convention Entertainment Committee in 1911, and Arkansas Good Roads and Drainage Association Women's Committee in 1915. Between 1917-1918 she became involved with the war effort. She spearheaded a sock drive for the Red Cross, a fundraiser and book drive for the War Library Fund Committee, was involved with several War Bond campaigns, and gave talks as a part of a food conservation campaign. She also served on the Drama Club's membership committee.

By 1916, Clarence had become manager of both the National Ice and Cold Storage Company and the Arkansas Cold Storage Company. The couple were frequently mentioned in the social and society pages of local newspapers at the time and attended glamorous parties and social functions; however, the marriage was apparently not a happy one. In January of 1918, Zilla filed for divorce from Clarence. According to the details published in the Arkansas Democrat; Zilla alleged that “for several years [Clarence] has treated the plaintiff with studied neglect and contempt; has cursed plaintiff, ordered her to leave home, threatened her with such rudeness, contempt, and studied neglect, open insult and other such indignities to her person as to render her condition in life absolutely impossible for her to live longer with defendant as wife and be happy.” Though Clarence denied the allegations, on January 11, 1918, a judge granted Zilla a divorce and ordered Clarence to pay her $2,600 in cash immediately, $2,500 the next year, and $100 per month in alimony.

On April 1, 1918, Zilla married Captain Nathaniel Martin Cartmell, a U.S. Army officer who was in charge of Army recruitment efforts in Arkansas during World War I. Nathaniel was a widower with three young children. The couple frequently hosted socials and officer receptions in Little Rock. Around 1919, Zilla and Nathaniel moved with thirteen-year-old Nathaniel Jr. to Fort Thomas, KY. The 1920 census lists the three Cartmells residing together in For Thomas; Nathaniel was 11 years her senior. Zilla and Nathaniel divorced in 1925.

Zilla Rose died in Little Rock on November 24, 1979. She is buried in Mt. Holly Cemetery in Little Rock.


“A Breezy Meeting.” Arkansas Democrat, 4 Nov. 1887.,

“Adjourn for Summer: Political Equality League Finds Weather Too Warm to Pursue Propaganda.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, 1 June 1913.,

“A New Railroad.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, 4 Sept. 1892.,

“A.N.G. Recruiting Stations Announced.” Arkansas Democrat, 14 December 1916.,

“At Officers' Club.” Arkansas Democrat, 28 April 1918.,

"Arkansas, County Marriages, 1837-1957," database with images, FamilySearch( : 18 March 2019), Zilla Ward in entry for Clarence E. Rose, 19 Jul 1907; citing Marriage, Pulaski, Arkansas, United States, county offices, Arkansas; FHL microfilm 495,029.

"Arkansas Divorce Index, 1923-1939," database, FamilySearch( : 27 November 2014), N M Cartmell and Zilla W, 26 Mar 1925; from "Arkansas Divorce Index, 1923-1939," database and images, Ancestry ( : 2005); citing Pulaski, Arkansas, volume 28, docket 33523, Arkansas Genealogical Society.

“Arkansas.” History of Woman Suffrage Vol. VI: 1900-1920. Ed. Ida Husted Harper, pp. 17-18.

“Arkansas Will Have State Body of Suffragettes.” Hot Springs New Era, 7 June 1913.,

“Captain Cartmell Weds.” Arkansas Democrat, 8 April 1918.,

“Chancery.” Arkansas Democrat, 11 Jan. 1918.,

“Club Women in Session in Conway.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, 21 April 1916.,

Col. Zeb Ward Obituary. The Southern Standard, 4 Jan. 1895.,

“Divorce Given Mrs. C.E. Rose.” Arkansas Democrat, 10 Jan. 1918.,

“Drama League.” Arkansas Democrat 20 Oct. 1916.,

Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 19 June 2019), memorial page for Anita La Tourrette Collins Cartmell (1884–15 Jan 1915), Find A Grave Memorial no. 181375762, citing Oakland and Fraternal Historic Cemetery Park, Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by Robert Louis Daniell (contributor 47276468) .

Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 18 June 2019), memorial page for Clarence Edward Rose (2 Oct 1883–26 Sep 1956), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7546743, citing Mount Holly Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8).

Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 18 June 2019), memorial page for Zilla Ward Cartmell (10 Jan 1884–24 Nov 1979), Find A Grave Memorial no. 94761830, citing Mount Holly Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8).

“Food Conservation Talks” Arkansas Democrat. 6 July 1917.,

Kwas, Mary L. A Pictorial History of Arkansas' Old State House: Celebrating 75 Years. U of Arkansas P, 2011. P. 199.

“L.R. District of S.F.W.C. Meeting.” Arkansas Democrat, 20 April 1916.,

“Mrs. Catt, Honoree.” Arkansas Democrat, 16 March 1916.,

“Plans Completed for ‘Big Drive' for Library Fund.” Arkansas Democrat, 26 Sept. 1917.,

“Political Equality League.” Arkansas Democrat, 24 February 1915.,

“Relation of Two Plants.” Arkansas Democrat, 2 Aug. 1916.,

“Seven New Voters Pay.” Arkansas Democrat, 23 March 1917.,

“Social and Personal.” Arkansas Gazette, 7 Feb. 1906.,

“State Paragraphs.” The Monticellonian, 18 May 1916.,

“Suffrage Dance.” Arkansas Democrat, 28 Nov. 2016.,

“Suffrage Issues Feature Day at Hot Springs Fair.” Arkansas Democrat, 18 Nov. 1914.,

“Suffragists Hear Miss Paul Today.” Arkansas Gazette, 25 Jan. 1916.,

“Suffrage Leader Be Here Friday.” Arkansas Gazette, 29 March 1916.,

"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch( : accessed 19 June 2019), Zilla Ward in household of Zeb Ward, Big Rock Township Little Rock city Ward 3, Pulaski, Arkansas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 78, sheet 17B, family 445, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,073.

"United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch( : accessed 19 June 2019), Zeb Ward, Little Rock Ward 1, Pulaski, Arkansas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 107, sheet 37B, family 328, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 62; FHL microfilm 1,374,075.

"United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 19 June 2019), Zilla W Cartmell in household of Nathaniel M Cartmell, Fort Thomas, Campbell, Kentucky, United States; citing ED 164, sheet 1B, line 61, family 17, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 563; FHL microfilm 1,820,563.

“Will Send Boxes to Soldier Boys.” Arkansas Democrat, 30 Aug. 1916.,

“Women Do Their Part.” Arkansas Democrat, 15 Oct. 1917.,

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