Monday, May 24, 2010

"A Marrying Parson"

When I posted Treasure Chest Thursday - Auble/Kemp Marriage Record, I had no idea who Reverend C.P. Masden, the minister that married my great-grandparents, Charles and Georgia (Kemp) Auble, was, and I didn't really care much.

But the name of Rev. Masden showed up in Linda's Google Search notices and she commented on my post that she had an article about Reverend C.P. Masden's career as a "Gretna Green" parson. Linda kindly sent a copy of the article to me, and I've since found it online on the website (an excellent resource for any Wyoming ancestral families). The article appeared in the Wyoming Derrick newspaper in Casper, Wyoming on 24 November 1898:

The transcript of the article reads:


Rev. C.P. Masden of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

His Parsonage Is Near the Steamboats and Docks and He Gets All the "Trade" -- A Brilliant Career in the Ministry

Rev. C.P. Masden, who succeeded Rev. Mr. Hunsberger as the "marrying parson" of Milwaukee, is the pastor of the Grand Avenue M.E. Church and will be returned to his charge by the conference this fall. Rev. Masden fell heir to the office of the "marrying parson" all because of the proximity of the parsonage to the railway depots and steamboat landings to which loving couples go when they arrive in Wisconsin's Gretna Green. Mr. Masden accepts his work with equanimity, but always tries to be sure that the young people are qualified for marriage before tying the knot. In this way he has managed to steer clear of no end of trouble. The Grand Avenue church's pastor has had a brilliant career in the ministry, having begun preaching when he was a young man of 17. While still young he succeeded Dr. Talmage in Philadelphia, when the latter left that city for Brooklyn. Later Mr. Masden went to New York and was for many years pastor of the Madison Avenue M.E. Church. He then went to St. Louis to one of the largest churches there, putting in sixteen years of work in the two cities. He was for a time at Wheeling, W.Va. and then transferred to Colorado springs, but the high altitude of that region necessitated his leaving that climate. Since his coming to Milwaukee he has been very successful in his work and has made a name as a pulpit orator, in this respect taking the lead of all the clergymen of that denomination in the city. His return will be unanimously asked by his congregation and the request will without doubt be acceded to when the conference meets.

I wondered what became of Rev. Masden, so I Googled his name and came up dry. I checked the Stories and Publications and found one interesting article (there were others not as interesting!):

On 19 October 1898, the Oshkosh (WI) Daily Northwestern newspaper reported that "Rev. C.P. Masden of Milwaukee was calledo ut of bed at 1 a.m. to wed a Chicago couple who could not wait."

In the 1900 U.S. Census, the Charles P. Masden family resided at 145 Fifth Street in Milwaukee. The household included Charles P. (age 52, born Apr 1848 in DE, a minister), wife Laura (age 57, born Nov 1842 in MD, married 32 years, 6 children born and living), son Charles P. (age 26, born Aug 1873 in PA), daughter Laura (age 27, born May 1873 in PA), son Wilson (age 20, born June 1879 in PA) and daughter Ella (age 21, born Aug 1878 in PA).

In the 1910 U.S. Census, Chas. P. Masten (age 67, born DE, clergyman) and his wife Laura E. Masten (age 65, born MD) reside at 2033 Virginia Street in Berkeley, Alameda, California with their son-in-law Roland Harris and his wife Laura Harris.

In the 1920 U.S. Census, Charles Madsen (age 77, born DE, a retired clergyman) and wife Laura Madsen(age 81, born MD) resided at 5594 College Avenue in Oakland, Alameda, California.

In the 1930 U.S. Census, Charles P. Masden (age 87, widowed, born DE, no occupation) was a boarder on Jackson Street in Oakland, with DeWitt Masden (age 45, widowed, born NY, a salesman) listed just above him.

Laura E. Masden died 5 December 1928 at age 91 in Oakland, Alameda County, California, according to the California Death Index on

I could not find a death record for Charles Masden after 1940, and the 1930 to 1939 records are not freely available on
This was a fun exercise! Thank you to Linda for providing the news article about the "Marrying Parson."


Kathryn Doyle said...

Hi Randy,
Rev. Charles Pitman Masden, D.D., died in Oakland on May 19, 1930. His obituary Death Strikes Retired Cleric was front page news in the Oakland Tribune that evening. I'm emailing you the image.

Lori H said...

Very interesting, Randy. Thanks for sharing!