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I had to share this tidbit from my reporting on Tershia d’Elgin, the canyon crusader of Golden Hill. She mentioned at the very end of an interview that Tershia isn’t her “real name.” Her real name is Linda Phelps.

“It just didn’t have enough snap to it,” d’Elgin said. “I had illusions of grandeur.”

She experimented with other names throughout her adolescence, but didn’t settle upon her new moniker until she was 22 and had returned from studying in France. She was tutoring children in Denver when one of her students told her she was reading a novel about a girl named Tertia.

D’Elgin didn’t learn how it was spelled until later, but she was sold on its sound.

“I did it completely wrong and when I found out I didn’t change it because I’m too stubborn,” d’Elgin said, laughing.

Her surname originated from the D. That “d” and apostrophe meant nobility in French, she thought, and she wanted something with a vowel to make it sound right. An author’s name caught her eye: Elgin. And thus she became Tershia d’Elgin.

“It isn’t even a name I’m crazy about!” she said. “But you get into things and you can’t really back up easily.”

D’Elgin said her newer, snappier name does appear on her tax returns and passport even though she never changed her name legally. I decided to call her Tershia in my article because most people in her circle know her by that name and reverting back to “Linda Phelps” in print would be more confusing than enlightening.

EMILY ALPERT

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