As a little girl, Mila Tupper dreamed of being a Unitarian minister in an era where most women were still encouraged to keep silent in church. Born in 1864 in Iowa, she would go on to study theology at Cornell and was ordained as a Unitarian pastor the year of her graduation, in 1889, and she then returned to the Midwest to serve churches in Indiana and Michigan, where she met her husband, Rezin Maynard. Maynard had been a trustee of the Grand Rapids church where Mila had been serving, and in 1893, after moving to Reno, Nevada, the two became co-pastors of a Unitarian Church in the fledgling city.
Mila had proved herself to be willing to stand against societal norms by becoming a minister in the first place. Rezin Maynard proved a worthy companion in her fight for social justice, supporting Mila when she lectured and taught courses at the University of Nevada and speaking out with her on social justice issues such as women’s rights—and woman suffrage specifically.
In 1895, Mila addressed the Nevada State Assembly to support the legislature’s “temporary” suffrage measure (look this up when I finish Nevada). To support her, Rezin wrote an opinion piece, published in the Reno Evening Gazette, which declared that allowing women the vote would cause a “complete revolution in government, religion, and social life.”
The Maynards would eventually move to Utah, where Mila would continue to enjoy the franchise, and then moved onto Los Angeles. Both continued to teach and to minister throughout their lives. When Mila died in 1926, it was with the knowledge that her dreams of reform, though perhaps they had started on a very personal level with her dreams of the ministry, had come true for all American women.