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Discoveries: Woman Minister Startles the Wedding Crowd

It was a special day in mid-October 1895 in Mapleville, Maryland, for the Nunsmaker and Kendle families: their two children were getting married. Miss Rosie Nunsmaker and Mr. James R. Kendle were tying the knot, with bridesmaid Miss Fannie Cross and best man Mr. John Duble accompanying them. It was a home wedding, a cozy affair, and everyone settled in for the ceremony.

But then the audience did a double-take. Could it be? Was that a woman minister leading the couple through their vows?

Indeed it was. Reverend Miss Laura E. N. Grossnickle was the presiding official. She was the "first woman ever performing a marriage ceremony in Washington County" (home of Mapleville), and the audience didn't quite know what to make of her.

Some, in fact, were outright suspicious, and "the question was raised as to whether the marriage was valid." The matter was brought to the attention of high state officials, and the question finally answered by Maryland State's Attorney C. A. Little—who affirmed that "any regularly ordained minister, whether man or woman, can legally perform the marriage ceremony."

A small victory for Reverend Grossnickle, a bigger victory for women in general—and a tremendous relief for the newly-married couple!


Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 21 October 1895, page 8.