Honoring Ohio’s first female lawyers

Oct 17, 2013
Perhaps Florence and Annette “Nettie” Cronise were making a fashion statement, always 
wearing their black dresses and black hats in the mid-1860s. As the first female attorneys in 
Ohio, however, they became known for much more.
On Wednesday, Oct. 23, the city of Tiffin will honor the sisters for their contributions to their 
profession with placement of a historical marker in downtown Tiffin. As a co-sponsor of the 
ceremony, Heidelberg and its students will have a major role in several associated events that 
day. That seems appropriate, given that Florence Cronise graduated from Heidelberg in 1865 
and Nettie attended for a short time.

Senior history major Rebecca Dickinson was hand-picked by her history professor,
Dr. David Hogan, to research the background of the Cronise sisters and their contributions to Tiffin. Along with junior CTA major Leigh Barthel and senior psychology major Katelyn Hough, Becca will set
the stage for the dedication with a presentation at the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library at 2 p.m. on 
the 23rd. It’s part of “A Conversation with the Cronise Sisters.” Leigh and Katelyn will portray 
the sisters, dressed in black period costumes, of course. 
Becca promises the presentation the Cronises’ lives in the context of the nation, the state 
and the city of Tiffin during the Reconstruction Era. It will be interactive, maybe a bit 
improvisational, but certainly informative.
“It has been cool to learn about empowered women,” Becca said. She was enlightened to learn 
that the sisters – born in Seneca County and raised by their grandfather – never spoke of the 
obstacles they faced working in a profession dominated by men.
“Obviously, they went through obstacles,” Becca said. “But they never wanted to talk about it. 
Florence refused to discuss it. Nettie indicated some days were darker than others.” 
In her final semester before she heads to grad school at Kent State University, Becca called the 
opportunity to be involved in the dedication events “awesome.” After completing an internship 
at the Hayes Presidential Center’s archives department this fall, she plans to begin studies for a 
master’s degree in library and information science with specialization in archives in January.
  • Women’s Leadership Initiative Early Success Speakers Series – noon in Campus Center 120. Featured speakers:
    Alumni attorneys Carrie Benedict, Jennifer Coletta McHugh and Rebecca Denton Shope. Open to ‘Berg students.
  •  “A Conversation with the Cronise Sisters” – 2 p.m., Tiffin-Seneca Public Library. Everyone invited.
  •  Dedication of Historical Marker – 3:30 p.m., Courthouse Square. Everyone invited.