Full Name: Lois Harriett James Schnebly
University of Montana School of Law, Class of 1923
9 June 1898
John W. James and Mary Almyra Little
John W. James was “one of Anaconda’s pioneer attorneys, practicing there from prior to the turn of the century until his death” 
2 sisters and 2 brothers
- University of Wisconsin, one year
- B.A., University of Montana 1923
LL.B., University of Montana School of Law 1923
- William C. Ayers, in Albany, Oregon, September 1927 (divorced in 1938)
- Frank L. Schnebly, in Great Falls, Montana, 10 January 1947
- Legal Secretary 1938-1944
- Schnebly Abstract Company 1944-1965
6 November 1976, in California
16 October 1921 — Anaconda Standard
“. . . Anaconda also enjoys the unique distinction of having two girls that are majors in the school of law, Lois James who graduates next spring, and Virginia McGuire, who is in her second year. . . . ”
6 October 1922 — Anaconda Standard
“Miss Lois James, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John W. James, who is attending the University of Montana, has been appointed law librarian at the university.”
9 June 1923 — The Butte Miner — “First Montana Girl to Complete Course in State Law School”
“To Miss Lois Harriett James, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John W. James of this city, goes the distinction of being the first Anaconda girl to complete a law courses at the University of Montana. She will graduate Monday with the degrees of M. A. and LL.D. [sic]. According to members of the faculty under whom she studies, Miss James’ credit ratings at the university were on par with the best students in the class. The course she so thoroughly mastered gives her the privilege of engaging in a general law practice in this state. During the last week she was offered the position of librarian at the Missoula library, but is still undecided as to whether she will accept.
Miss James was born and reared in this city. She was graduated from Anaconda high with the class of 1917 with high honors. With the exception of one year spent at the University of Wisconsin, she completed her education at the state university at Missoula.”
16 June 1923 — The Missoulian — “Miss James to Return”
“Miss Lois James who received her L.L. B. degree in law at the recent graduation at the university, has returned to her home in Anaconda. She will practice law with her father, John James, during the summer and will return to the university when school opens next fall to be in charge of the law library for the year.”
16 August 1924 — The Butte Miner — “Dismissed on Grounds of Insufficient Evidence”
“Following the testimony by three witnesses for the plaintiff in the case of Leon Bentley against Walter Peters in police court yesterday, City Attorney Morgan moved that it be dismissed on account of insufficient evidence. The case was the outcome of a collision several weeks ago between an automobile driven by the defendant and a motorcycle, on which the plaintiff was riding.
The case marked the debut of Miss Lois James as a practicing attorney. The young woman is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John W. James, and since being graduated from the state university last year, has been officiating as law librarian at the university.”
27 August 1925 — Havre Daily News — “Lois James Forms Law Partnership with Father
For the first time in its history, Anaconda will have a woman lawyer, for Miss Lois James entered partnership with her father, John W. James, in the law firm which will now be known as James and James.
Miss James is a native daughter of this city, graduated from the high school here in 1917. She attended the University of Wisconsin for several years and graduated from the law department of the University of Montana at Missoula two years ago. Since her graduation she has served as librarian at the law library at the university, the position she resigned when she decided to enter the practice of law in this city.”
5 October 1925 — Butte Miner — “Young Ladies to Address Rotarians — Miss Lois James and Miss Virginia McGuire to Speak at Lincoln”
“Miss Lois James and Miss Virginia McGuire will be guests at the Rotary club luncheon this noon and will address the Rotarians. Judge George B. Winston will preside at the luncheon.
Miss James will discuss ‘The Outlook for Women Lawyers,’ and Miss McGuire will talk on, ‘Women and the Legal Profession.’
Both Miss McGuire and Miss James are well known residents of Anaconda and are graduates of the school of law at the State university at Missoula.”
11 January 1942 — Great Falls Tribune — “Women Urged to Learn More About Statutes”
“Importance of women’s becoming acquainted with a few basic facts concerning both the laws and their applications to various conditions was brought out in a talk, ‘Wisdom for Widows,’ given by Mrs. Lois Ayers, vice president of the Great Fall Business and Professional Women’s club, at a legislative meeting of the club Tuesday evening.
Mrs. Ayers listed the making of wills as the most important business transaction of every individual member. She also spoke on contracts, the transfer and holding of various kinds of property, and causes for divorce in the state of Montana. She closed her address with the query, ‘Have you seen your lawyer lately?'”
3 October 1944 — “Shelby Women Buy Abstract — Credit Concern; Lois Ayers, Ruby Benjamin Purchase from Ziebarth
Mrs. Ruby A. Benjamin and Mrs. Lois J. Ayers will assume management of the Shelby Abstract and Credit Exchange, effective September 1, according to Florence Ziebarth, who has disposed of her interests to them after 10 years in business.
Mrs. Benjamin and Mrs. Ayers are well qualified for the position as they have a background of experience in office work.
Mrs. Benjamin recently resigned a clerking position at the local post office which she held for seven years. She was also a teacher in Toole county for 10 years.
Mrs. Ayers has resided in Shelby for two years, coming here from Great Falls where she was secretary to Leo Graybill, attorney. She has been in the office of L. P. Donovan, local attorney since that time. She was admitted to the bar in the State of Montana and has had abstract and credit law experience in the state of Oregon and in Montana. . . .”
3 thoughts on “Lois James Schnebly ’23”
This is my paternal grandmother, whose son was my father James Carey Ayers.
I am desperately trying to find out ANY information regarding my paternal grandfather, her first husband, William Carey Ayers who were wed in Albany, Oregon in September 1927. Their only child, my father was born February 15, 1928.
Hello. I am out of town so I can’t look through my file to see what I might have. I’ll look, but I don’t think I will have access soon. BRB
I’m seeing your response for the first time several months later. Did you ever have a chance to look through your file to see what you have on William Carey Ayers, my paternal grandfather, married to my attorney grandmother here, Lois Harriett James Ayers Schnebly ?