Did the earliest Christian communities apppoint female as well as male deacons?
My own study suggests that before the 1860s, writers within the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement gave one answer: Yes. The New Testament churches ordained and employed not only elders and deacons, but deaconesses as well. So, they said, modern-day churches have Bible sanction and should do the same. Take a look:
"From Ro. 16:1 as well as from 1 Tm. 3:11 it appears that females were constituted deaconesses in the primitive church."
Alexander Campbell, "Order," Millennial Harbinger 6, no. 10 (1835), p. 507.
"It is generally regarded, among our brethren, as an essential element in the restoration of the primitive order, to ordain, in every church, both deacons and deaconesses."
W. K. Pendleton, "Discipline, No. 7," Millennial Harbinger 5, no. 5 (1848), p. 292.
"The Phoebes should . . . constitute a part of the diakonoi of every fully organized congregation."
Robert Milligan, "The Permanent Orders of the Christian Ministry -- Of Deacons," Millennial Harbinger 5, no. 11 (1855), p. 626.