Eglantine L. Bessette Roper ’19


“Chouteau County Has Lady Lawyer” — Bear Paw Mountaineer — 27 July 1911

+++++“Mrs. C.C. Roper, nee Eglantine Bessette, has received from the Interior department a certificate authorizing her to practice in all land courts. This is a just recognition of the ability of a lady who is very popular in Havre, who has worked hard and consistently to advance herself in her profession and there is no doubt that Chouteau county’s first woman lawyer will reap her reward in the enjoyment of a lucrative practice.
+++++This same lady lawyer has had extensive experience, owing to the fact that she was employed in the office of the Chief of Field Division at Helena for one year and has reported government and private contests for the past four years along the Great Northern railroad between Culbertson and Great Falls.”


Ms. Roper was not admitted to the state bar of Montana to practice law in all courts until 1919.


Born:

+++++ 1 September 1888, in Quebec

Parents:

+++++Hypolite Bessette and Mathilde Lea Carreau

Siblings:

+++++2 sisters and 2 brothers

Education:

  • Sacred Heart Academy, Missoula
  • University of California, Berkeley

Married:

+++++Clyde C. Roper May 1911

Children:

+++++One son and one daughter. She also raised her sister’s three young sons after her sister died.

Legal Education:

+++++LL.B., Valparaiso University 1908

Employment before Practicing Law:

+++++She came to Havre in 1908 to work as a court reporter and manage a public stenographic office.

Admitted to Practice:

+++++Montana 1919

Practice:

+++++“Land Attorney” in Havre

Additional Work:

+++++Owned and operated the Northern Auto Company (general garage agents for Studebakers) in Havre

Notes:

+++++“During the Depression, Mrs. Roper went to California and sold everything from cemetery lots to fire extinguishers.”

Died:

+++++1 December 1974


“A Look Back at Women in Havre History
+++++Eglantine Bessette Roper: Hi-Line Attorney
+++++“Eglantine Bessette Roper’s father had been involved in the freighting and transportation business associated with the building of Fort Assinniboine. In 1897 he settled his family on a ranch in the Havre area where Eglantine was born in 1888. Unusual as it was at the time, she received an extensive education both in Montana and California and gained experience with the law working as a court reporter and public stenographer in what was then Choteau County.
+++++Married to Clyde Roper in 1910, she bore a son but continued to seek additional legal education which resulted in her being admitted to the Bar in 1919.
+++++Shortly after, she established her own practice as a land attorney in Havre and continued to work with her husband in the operation of the Northern Auto Company until 1925, when they sold the business and opened a general insurance, real estate and loan office here.
+++++Eglantine acted as an agent for the U.S. Building and Loan of Butte and at one time dealt in oil leases in the Shelby area. She left Havre in the Depression years but returned to Havre in 1962, finding few friends or business associations. Apparently successful in business but not socially, she died in December 1974.
http://www.havredailynews.com/story/2013/12/12/local/a-look-back-at-women-in-havre-history/2651.html?m=true


Summaries:

+++++“Clyde and Eglantine Roper were very active in the Havre business area. He worked at the freight depot for the Great Northern, owned and operated Roper Transfer Company, and filed a homestead ten miles north of Havre. She was an insurance agent, land attorney and owned the Northern Auto Garage; Clyde served as manager. According to official court documents, they were reportedly active in bootlegging during Prohibition. They turned to real estate speculation later in the 1920’s, and she became an agent for the U.S. Building and Loan Association, owned rental properties and both sold oil leases in Montana and real estate in California.” https://mhs.mt.gov/Portals/11/shpo/docs/havre.pdf


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