10 December 1895 — Atlanta Constitution
“Entertaining History of the Marvelous Achievements of One Woman.
Her Triumphs at the Bar; Acquired a Big Practice —
Appointed Assistant Attorney General Wedded to the Attorney General”
The census of the country records 110 women lawyers. The most remarkable and successful of this number — one of the most remarkable women in the world — is . . . Mrs. Ella Knowles Haskell, assistant attorney general of the state of Montana and the most successful lawyer in the state.
Mrs. Haskell is still a young woman, but her life history has been crowded full of activity, dramatic incident, success, adventure, politics, and romance. The story of her life reads with the fascination of a romance. . . .
Mrs. Haskell is a modest-mannered, quiet, womanly woman of medium height. She is not of the aggressive, assertive type that one would naturally expect to find in the successful feminine lawyer. She is mild, gentle womanly, though full of determination, courage and energy. Her career as a lawyer, as well as her earlier history, proves her fearlessness and determination.
Less than thirty-five years old, she has won greater success at the bar than 10 percent of the lawyers of her age who have been in the practice fifteen years. She has been engaged in practice less than six years, and she commenced and fought her way against the odds of prejudice, lack of acquaintance and lack of sympathy. The people were not disposed to give her a sympathetic hearing, but the remarkable fact stands out that wherever she has been heard she has conquered.
Mrs. Haskell is a New Hampshire girl. She was Miss Ella Knowles and when a young girl she exhibited marked genius. She wanted a college education, but her father opposed the idea. She was determined however, and through her own efforts she went through Bates college at Lewiston, Me., and was graduated. Her father greatly disapproved of her course, and she went west to teach school. She had heard wonderful stories of the great state of Montana and went there. She taught school very successfully for a time, but in 1890 she drifted into the practice of law. She was admitted to the practice at Helena. At about the time she was admitted quite a number of young men entered the practice. Of that number only one is now resident of Montana, and he is not in the practice of law, but is a clerk in a bank.
Miss Knowles was alone in the great state of Montana, but she found friends. Her pluck and her energy won her the way to the hearts of the people by whom she was immediately surrounded. She had a good practice almost from the start. Her friends put their lawsuits in her hands, trusting implicitly to her ability and capacity to handle them. She has had wonderful success in the management of cases, having won a large percentage of those she has handled. She has tried all sorts of cases, both civil and criminal, . . .
Mrs. Haskell tells in the most interesting manner of her nomination and race for attorney general of the state of Montana.
‘It was a total surprise to me,’ said she. ‘I was in my office in the Masonic building in Helena one day when I received a telegram signed by three names that I had never heard before. The telegram was dated Butte, Mont., and asked me if I would accept the nomination of the populist party for attorney general of the state.
‘I read the thing over and over again in surprise and wonder. I did not know the men whose names were signed to the telegram. I didn’t know what a populist was. I had never heard of the populist party. I didn’t know a thing about politics. All I knew was about the law and school teaching. I was on very friendly terms with all the deputies around the courthouse, and it occurred to me that they were trying to play a practical joke on me. The telegram remained around my office for several hours without being answered. Finally, an attorney who had an office in the same building happened in and I showed him the telegram. I told him I thought I was being joked. “Not at all,” said he. “That telegram is genuine. That convention is in session. Wire them and say yes.”
‘I took his advice. The next morning I received a telegram saying that I had been unanimously nominated. I wired my acceptance, it taking me quite a time to frame a telegram. I hardly knew what to say in response to a notification of a political nomination. When I came down town next morning I was stopped at every corner by democrats and republicans who ridiculed the idea of my accepting the nomination and who tried hard to get me to withdraw. They laughed at me. I made up my mind to run and run to the very best of my ability. I entered the race with all the energy of my nature.
‘I made sixty speeches in the state. I never heard a disrespectful word spoken to me during the time I was canvassing the state. I spoke to miners as well as merchants and professional men. I want to say that more chivalrous men do not exist than the hard working miners and ranchmen of my state. I want to pay tribute to them. I did my best in the campaign, and altogether it wasn’t too bad.’
Miss Knowles came marvelously near being elected. So close was the issue of the election that it required three weeks to settle the question, and at last it was announced that Mr. Haskell, the bachelor attorney general, had been re-elected by a narrow margin of votes.
Miss Knowles accepted the decision of the ballots with philosophical resignation and went back to her lucrative practice all the better known for the experience which she had gained. A few weeks later she was notified by letter that she had been appointed assistant attorney general of the state. The appointment, coming unsolicited, was a great surprise to her. However, she accepted and has performed the duties of her office since doing so.
Her appointment had a sequel in a delightful romance, which, related in Mrs. Haskell’s naive way, is exceedingly interesting. While performing the prosaic duties of assistant attorney general Miss Knowles was thrown in a most constant contact with Attorney General Haskell. The two former opponents became the warmest of friends and after becoming friends, lovers.
They were married last May, the event attracting the attention of the entire state. They were married in California, whither Miss Knowles had gone to recover from a very severe accident which befell her in Butte City, a little over a year ago, and which came near injuring her fatally. She has not entirely recovered from the results of the accident — being thrown from a hack.
‘We could not well have married in the state,’ said Mrs. Haskell, speaking of her marriage yesterday. ‘We had so many friends in the state that we would not have known when to stop issuing invitations. We were married in May, and since June I have been actively engaged at work.’
Mrs. Haskell has no desire for further political promotion. She says she can make more money in the practice of law. In one case she received a cash fee of $10,000, and in other cases she received large mining properties, the value of which she does not know. She has done much valuable practice in the state. She is now the best known woman in the state. She has the friendship of all classes, and has had important cases for some of the largest interests in the state.
She tells an interesting story illustrating the manner in which she holds the friendship of the cowboys of the state. While engaged in a big cattle case between two great ranchers she was thrown in contact with a great many of them.
‘In their rough way they wanted to be nice to me,’ said she, ‘and show their appreciation, yet they didn’t know what to say. Finally, one of them came up and said in his honest fashion, “Say, won’t you come an’ have a drink?” Now I didn’t want to offend the honest fellows. They didn’t know any better, and were offering me the highest form of hospitality they knew. I thought I could compromise, and said “I don’t drink, but I’ll tell you what I’ll do. There’s a soda fountain down there in the middle of the block and we’ll go down and have some soda.” “Good,” shouted the crowd, and we went down and I had to drink with the lot of them. During the trial of the case there came a sort of lull in the proceedings, and one of the cowboys leaned over and said to his companion in a loud whisper, audible all over the courtroom, ‘Say, Bill, I’d like to lasso that gal.’ It brought down the house.””
For more on Ella Knowles, https://mtwomenlawyers.org/1889-2/ella-knowles-haskell/
2 July 1922 — Anaconda Standard
Miss Jessie Roscow was admitted to the bar in 1917. She was born in Illinois and removed to Nebraska, in which state she attended the university before taking up her residence in Butte. She has had training in the law offices of Lamb and Walker and that of Maj. Jesse B. Roote. In addition to her private practice she is employed as an assistant to Judge Sidney Sanner.
‘Would I recommend the law as a profession for women?’ inquired Miss Roscow. ‘No. I would not. Women as a sex are not fitted for it. Law appeals to some women as it appeals to me. In such cases I seen no reason why my sex should not succeed in the profession. For that matter there are many men who are not adapted to the law and could not be induced to take it up.’
Miss Roscow has no hobbies, is not ’emancipated,’ is fond of outdoor sports and takes a keen interest in public affairs, but has no ‘mission’ or overpowering ambition, except to be a good lawyer.
‘I prefer office and research work to court practice,’ she said. ‘My sex has nothing to do with this preference. There are many men at the bar who do not care for court work. There are others who do not care for office work at all. The question is a temperamental matter.
‘I find myself peculiarly adapted to probate work — looking after estate matters. This line of practice calls for close attention to minute details, and for this reason I think women are better adapted to its demands than are men. I hope in time to so establish myself in this line that when people think of probate matters they will at once think of Jessie Roscow — probate and Roscow would be a slogan that would please me most.’
Miss Roscow was seen Saturday afternoon. She was surrounded by law books, well-thumbed volumes. ‘I devote Saturday afternoons to study,’ she said. ‘The law is a fine profession. The prospective lawyer, however, must make up her mind to the fact that it calls for deep study, close application and the sacrifice of many enjoyments that are dear to the young. A girl who has a liking for legal matters and who is willing to make the sacrifice, should succeed. Brains has no sex. Women are better adapted to some branches than are men, but this is due to their training in patience and in matters of detail.’
Miss Fanny Neyman, Butte’s youngest lawyer and one of two girl practitioners at the Silver Bow county bar, is an uncompromising little democrat. She is quite content to obey any statute providing the people themselves indorse it.
She is strong for personal liberty and feels ours is a government ‘of the people, for the people, and by the people,’ and that their personal liberty should not be invaded by legislative enactment, but by a direct consideration of their wishes expressed in their vote. ‘We do not live for ourselves alone,’ she said, ‘ and the rights and interests of the community as a whole must be considered ahead of the rights and comforts of the individual.’ Questioned regarding her views, she said:
‘I don’t like to see women in knickerbockers on the [illegible] . . . nor do I like idea of women [illegible] but I feel that they have a perfect right to do those things if they see fit — it is a personal matter.
‘Prohibition? Well, the people of our station and nation have voted for it individually and collectively. It stands as an amendment to our constitution and as such, should be upheld by the people. If the people of our state and nation feel now that they have made a mistake in prohibition, the remedy lies in their hands. I feel, however, that the law as it stands should be respected and obeyed.
‘How did I determine on the law as a profession? A natural liking for it. When in school I enjoyed civics and later I took commercial law and found it so interesting I decided to study other branches of it.
‘What branch of the law do I most favor? Corporation and probate. I would not care for criminal law, except where women or children are the defendants. Divorce cases? Certainly. Men have been running the divorce courts for years and years, and they haven’t made a very good job of it. Everything connected with divorce has been viewed from the man’s angle. We must change that. I am in favor or national marriage and divorce laws.
‘Do I intend to get married? I do not — that is, not yet, not for along, long time,’ she said hastily. ‘I believe in marriage as an institution and that wifehood, motherhood, is the most exalted position in the world. God gave it to women and the married state is a natural one for both sexes.
‘In cases involving women and children, I believe the woman lawyer has a large field and one in which she can produce good results.’
Miss Neyman, who is still so youthful that she dislikes to admit her age, was born in Butte and educated here. She has had a number of cases in court since her admission in January, 1922 [sic 1921], and has been very successful. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Neyman, both of whom are deceased.
Her office is at 55 West Broadway with James E. Murray.
For more on Jessie Roscow, see https://mtwomenlawyers.org/1910-1919/jessie-roscow-17/
For more on Fanney Neyman, see https://mtwomenlawyers.org/1920-1929/fanney-neyman-21/
31 May 1914 — Oakland Tribune
“Why Wear the snugly — yes, too snugly-fitting costumes of modern fashion? Slit skirts and ungainly styles never made a good lawyer.
So says Italia de Jarnette, one of the very few California girls who have taken up law as a profession. Miss de Jarnette says that the ideal costume is the divided skirt and the ‘middy blouse.’ The youthful Portia, when she isn’t delving into the musty tomes of the law, is busy devising newer and freer dresses. Who can tell whether the consignee has a better right than the the mortgagor, or whether the habeas corpus law is superior to that of eminent domain, or that regulation is designed to have a soporific influence on predatory corporations, when she’s too busy trying to sit up in a skirt that’s too tight? No one, says Miss de Jarnette.
The young lawyer is a graduate of the University of California and has achieved considerable fame as an athlete as well as in the fields of law. She is a horseback rider of note in Berkeley and was a champion fencer in her sophomore year in the university. She has written books, stumped the country for women suffrage, ‘swung’ real estate deals, and in fact, has done almost everything but wear a hat.
‘Hats are nuisances,’ she declares. ‘I never wear one. What’s the use?’ When Miss de Jarnette isn’t busy with other things, she raises mocking birds, and has a large collection in her home in Berkeley. She will in August enter a large law office in San Francisco.”
18 January 1916 — August Chronicle
“Elinor Byrne, writing in the New Republic, divides women lawyers into three classes. The first have ‘with infinite patience and determination secured a foothold in the profession. Their creed is that by proving their ability to do so, in the same way that men do, some of the things men lawyers are doing, they will establish their fitness and gradually be given greater opportunities.’
The second consists of women who ‘discouraged by the prejudice against them, or disillusioned by realization or the chasm between the law as it is practiced and their ideals of justice, have dropped out of the profession.’ These women often become valuable in social work, but feel that they have wasted years on law study.
The third class have gradually become convinced that they do not want success if it means they must do what successful men lawyers are doing. But they are unwilling to give up the practice of law because they feel there must be something worth while in doing so.’ They do not want merely to play ‘a game in which the lawyer’s part is to help the client follow his own desires regardless what the law is, regardless of justice.’ Women lawyers ‘do not think we have any special intelligence or any unusual spiritual insight qualifying us to reform the world. But we do believe that if ever we are to accomplish anything worth while in the law, we must begin now, while we are in the full tide of rebellion. The question is, what are we to do?’
One may venture to answer the writer’s question, ‘Get to work educating public opinion.’
Our present method of administering law is antiquated and absurd. Men lawyers, as well as women, are beginning to see what the layman has known for a long time, that the body of law does not fit modern life, and that making a game of the profession whose ideal should be the administration of justice is prostitution.
But a long road must be traveled in making the individual want justice for the social body as a whole rather than to gain his own personal desire if that be antisocial or unjust. If lawyers will insist upon what this woman wants to do, ‘find out what the law is in any given case, help to have the case decided by the law, and finally, try to change the law so as to make it representative of the needs of the community’ that will mean a revolution in legal affairs.
But supply follows demand. Clients must be willing to abide by the law. If women lawyers like the writer of that article can spread the gospel of justice as opposed to word juggling and law evasion, they will find their yearning to ‘accomplish something worth while in the law’ abundantly satisfied.”
“Miss Ella Knowles, 28 years old and a ‘lawyeress‘ was elected ‘attorney generaless’ of Montana, at the last election, the only one of her kind on earth.” [Apparently, for a little while, it was believed that Ella Knowles had won the election for Attorney General of Montana in 1892; she did not; Henri Haskell did.]
5 August 1870 — Indianapolis News
“Miss Barkalow, the St. Louis lawyeress, is twenty-two, a buxom and amiable lady.”
27 August 1884 — Fairfield News and Herald
“‘Mrs. Carolline Dall, authoress, has her Winter home at Georgetown, D. C.’ — Boston Globe. And Julia Moore, the poetess, is in Oshkosh; and Mary Walker, the lawyeress, is in Washington; Eliza Pinkney, the advertiseress, is dead; and Susan B. Anthony, the workeress, is abroad, and we only have a singeress, a couple of painteresses, a rideress, and several walkeresses to make things cheerful for us at home. — Life.”
10 May 1886 — Saint Paul Globe
“Though the female lawyer would probably be the first to resent any appellation distinguishing her from her brethren at the bar, that kind of practitioner has not yet become so common as to warrant grouping under the same general term which indicates the usual legal expert. So long as ‘authoress’ holds its place in the language there will be warrant for calling a woman learned in the law a lawyeress. . . .”