Mabel E. Lancaster Crenshaw ’30

25 March 1984 — Great Falls Tribune — “Woman had law office here in 1933

+++++Mabel E. Crenshaw, one of fewer than 10 women to practice law in Montana, came to Great Falls in late summer of 1933 to settle ‘permanently’ and was described in the Tribune as ‘the city’s first woman attorney.’ She opened an office in the Conrad Bank Building, 324 Central Ave.
+++++Women in law had an equal opportunity with men, she said. In all of her cases before the bar, she had been treated with dignity and respect, regardless of the nature of the case being argued. She had recently returned from a vacation in San Francisco, where she said there were about 75 women lawyers who had ceased to be a novelty.
+++++Reared in Maryland, Crenshaw came to Montana in 1919, when she became associated with Gibson & Smith in Livingston. She furthered her law study with the firm and was admitted to the bar of the Montana Supreme Court in 1930 from Livingston.
+++++In Livingston, after a time of patient waiting, her first client had appeared in the person of a typical western cowboy: 10-gallon hat, high-heeled boots, chaps and all. With western directness, he demanded a divorce — and got it.
+++++Crenshaw then handled many types of cases, criminal and civil, and in all the fact of her being a woman had not hindered the case. It had been her experience, she said, that both men and women reposed the same degree of confidence in a woman as in a man practicing law.”

An article very similar to this one appeared in the Great Falls Tribune, on 2 September 1933, page 10.


+++++About 1885 in Ida Grove, Iowa


+++++John Lancaster and Rosa


+++++Two brothers, Francis Grover (died in 1918) and Raymond


+++++Benton McMillan Crenshaw, 15 February 1908, in Oklahoma. He was an ironworker.


+++++26 December 1924, in Gallatin County, MT


+++++One daughter, Eleanor L. (1909-1930); Eleanor attended law school. [See newspaper article below.]


  • Stenographer (Montana 1916-1930)
  • Lawyer (Montana 1930-1934 (approx.))
  • Lawyer (Oregon 1934-1954)(admitted on certificate from Montana)

Admitted to Practice:

  • Montana 1930
  • Oregon 1934


+++++13 March 1954, in Portland, Oregon

15 August 1930 — Montana Standard — “Livingston Girl’s Death Mourned”

+++++“Livingston was profoundly shocked to learn of the death of Miss Eleanor Crenshaw, 21, who died suddenly at Forsyth Sunday while visiting friends. Heart trouble was given as the cause of death. Although she had been ill for several weeks, her death was entirely unexpected and came as a great shock to her many friends in Livingston.
+++++The girl and her mother, Mrs. Mabel Crenshaw, went to Forsyth a few days ago to visit. She was in fairly good health, but suffered the heart attack Sunday afternoon.
+++++She had resided in Livingston for a number of years and was well known and respected here. She attended the local public school and graduated from Park county high school. For the last three years she had been a student in the law school at the University of Montana and would have graduated next year from the state institution. She was a talented musician and while a student at Park county high school took a prominent part in all musical programs. She represented her school in the state music contests and helped win several prizes.
+++++Miss Crenshaw was one of the most talented young ladies of this community and had won for herself high favor in the musical circles, not only of Livingston, but of the state, having represented Montana at Denver in the national violin solo contest. For two years she was the leader of the orchestra of the Methodist church and on numerous occasions delighted civic and other organizations with her exceptional work on the violin. . . .”

15 October 1933 — Great Falls Tribune — “Woman Attorney to Talk on Woman Jurors”

+++++“Mrs. Mabel E. Crenshaw, Great Falls attorney, will address the local League of Women Voters Tuesday evening at the Y.M.C.A. . . . Her talk [will be based on]her experience with women jurors in California . . . . Mrs. Crenshaw is state chairman of the legal status of women.”

20 December 1933 — Great Falls Tribune

+++++“Another case heard Tuesday morning was that of Mrs. Mabel E. Crenshaw, local attorney, who was booked for allegedly parking a car at an improper angle. The case was dismissed by the magistrate.”

12 June 1934 — Capital Journal

+++++“Mabel E. Crenshaw of Portland was admitted to the Oregon bar upon certificate from Montana.”

8 March 1908 — Evening Star

+++++“Miss Mabel Lancaster of this city, who for the last eighteen months has been connected with the government service at the Ponca Indian agency, Oklahoma, was married February 15 to Mr. Benton McMillan Crenshaw of Tennessee. The ceremony was performed at Ponca City by Rev. Father Henzel of the Catholic Church of that place, in the presence of a small company that included the superintendent of the Ponca agency and Mrs. Noble and Mr. Allen Crenshaw, brother of the bridegroom. Mr. and Mrs. Crenshaw are now in Spokane, Wash., on their way to the Pacific coast.”

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