Doing a routine search on newspapers.com, I found the obituary of a woman identified as “one of the first women lawyers in Montana.” In the more than 25 years I have been researching Montana’s pioneering women lawyers, I have never found a reference to Ms. Wilkins.
Great Falls Tribune, 23 December 1956
“Mrs. Elsie B. Wilkins, 86, wife of Ben J. Wilkins, 1310 6th Ave. N., and one of the first women lawyers in Montana, died Saturday morning at a local hospital where she had been a patient for four days. . . . Mrs. Wilkins was born Nov. 24, 1870, at Peru, Ind., and came to Great Falls in 1914. Both she and her husband, who were married in 1898, were graduated from Valparaiso University Law School, Valparaiso, Ind. Although she never practiced law, Mrs. Wilkins passed her bar examinations both in Indiana and Montana. She is believed to be Montana’s first woman lawyer. An eastern Star at 18, Mrs. Wilkins joined Helen C. Roberts Chapter when she came to this city. She also was a charter of the White Shrine of Jerusalem. In addition to the widower, survivors are two sons, Billy H. Wilkins and Robert B. Wilkins, both of this city . . .”
I wonder whether Ms. Wilkins passed the Montana bar examination in 1914, but never applied for admission to the bar. I have no more information about her beyond what is provided in her obituation. Her husband, Ben Wilkins, ran for police judge in Great Falls in 1947.
Does anyone have any information about Ms. Wilkins?