Zeta Chapter was founded at Rockford Female Seminary (now Rockford College) in Rockford, Illinois in 1874. The Chapter closed in 1878.
4 initiates (as of 1878)
Rockford, Ill., settled in 1834, chartered as a city in 1852, the county seat of Winnebago County, is about 85 miles northwest of Chicago. Rockford Seminary, which opened in 1849, became a non-sectarian college in 1892, devoted to the higher education of women.
Zeta Chapter came and went. Its life seems to have been at most one year long and its members a possible four. We have the four who seem to have been the only members and that is all we know except that Kittie Shelley was sister of Frances “Fannie” Shelley Mastin, Monmouth. Even the place of Zeta’s founding was changed in an old notebook from Galesburg to Rockford, Ill., perhaps an indication that a Zeta Chapter at Galesburg had been considered first.
On February 28, 1875, the redoubtable Alice Pillsbury (Shelley, Reeson) of Alpha wrote to the reliable Ida Woodburn (McMillan) of Delta, “We sent the charter to the Zetas yesterday enclosed in a box containing some trifles to help them celebrate, as girls shut up in a seminary have some difficulty in obtaining the essentials ... the girls were all here … and we had a gay time packing the box.”
The letters of Miss Pillsbury and the name and location in the early list are the facts that have been allowed to stand against the memory of many that such a chapter never existed. There is not even any record that it went out of existence, for although Ida Moudy Estes, Depauw, claimed that Zeta was “laid down” at the 1878 Convention, the fact is not in the minutes. The important facts are that the box with the charter was sent, that the contents were noted and enjoyed. In these facts of giving and receiving, Fraternity existed between the givers and the receivers and in the giving and receiving there existed enjoyment, affection, thoughtfulness and action. That was all there was to Zeta, an early failure, but in its limited, mysterious way, a complete success!