Home » For Lawyers » Links & Resources » Alaska Bar Rag (Quarterly Newspaper) » Our Colorful Past » A woman's life of law in early Fairbanks

Another candidate for Alaska's first woman lawyer
Nathalena Roberts Moore. 1875 - 1950

By Phyllis Demuth Movius
(From the Alaska Bar Rag, July-September 2004. References denoted in parentheses)

Nathalena Roberts was born 25 miles north of Boston in Essex, MA in January 1875, to Luella H. and Samuel S. Roberts.(1)

While a young girl, Natalie, as she was called, and her mother moved to Tacoma. It is unclear whether her parents divorced or her father died.(2) In Tacoma, Natalie attended school and was a student at the Annie Wright Seminary as a junior from September 1890 until June 1891 (3).

Annie Wright Seminary, founded in 1884, was then an all-girls' school, where a young woman was exposed to a Christian education that molded a kind, joyous spirit, refined taste, and strong character.(4) Natalie continued her education with study of the law under the direction of attorneys Boyle and Richardson and she passed the Washington Bar examination on October 13, 1899.(5) For a number of years, Natalie practiced law and ultimately became chief clerk in the legal department of the Northern Pacific Railway.(6) On March 3,1903, at age 26, Natalie was admitted to the Washington Bar.(7)

Natalie continued to live with her mother in a rented house at 919 1/2 C St. in Tacoma until a couple of years later when she moved to Alaska.(8)

Around 1905, Natalie arrived in Fairbanks and worked as a stenographer for the law firm of Carr and Nye. Later she worked with the law office of McGinn & Sullivan.(9) Shortly after her arrival, she married dentist Charles Merton Moore and they lived at the corner of 8th Avenue and Cowles. Charles, a son and fourth child of Rebecca Jane Patrick and Jerome Moore, was born in December 1878 in Chico, CA.(10) He studied dentistry at the University of California, enjoyed golf, and attended the Episcopal Church.(11) On May 22, 1906, Dr. Moore became infamous in Fairbanks when a window curtain in his dental office blew into an open flame. The resulting blaze destroyed several blocks of the downtown area, but the damaged city center was rebuilt immediately.

(It should be noted that after Natalie married she regularly gave her birth date as 1878, the same as Charles. Presumably she did this so she appeared to be the same age rather than three years older than he.)

In 1907, Natalie's mother, Lulu, moved to Fairbanks and into the Moore's home on 5th Avenue. A year later on Monday, May 18, 1908, Natalie was admitted to the Alaska Bar by reciprocity at the recommendation of Judge James Wickersham.(12)

While she practiced law she was also a prominent hostess in Fairbanks. She regularly entertained the Five Hundred Club, a card group, and her Thanksgiving dinner party in 1908 was reported in the society pages of the local newspaper.(13)

In March 1909, Natalie gave birth to her only child, a daughter who she named Frances Lucile. The family resided at 232 Eighth Ave. for a number of years. By 1917, the Moores and Natalie's mother had left Alaska and were settled at 1716 Eighth Ave. in Tacoma. Charles practiced dentistry in that city at the Electro Dental Parlors.(14) It is unclear whether Natalie practiced law when she returned to Washington. However, she participated in the Monday Civic Club of Tacoma and attended the Congregational Church.(15)

On October 30,1948, Charles Merton Moore died just shy of his 69th birthday. Reverend Arthur Bell conducted the funeral service.(16) Natalie lived for almost two more years until she died on August 11,1950. She was survived by her daughter Frances who had married C. B Wolters, and one granddaughter, Carla Lou Wolters, both of Olympia.(17)

(The author is an independent historian in Fairbanks.)


  1. Birth location, "Mrs. Moore Is First Woman," Fairbanks Weekly News, May 22, 1908; Father's name,Tacoma City Directory, 1892, microfilm #1,598,120, Item #1. Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; mother's name, 1900 Federal Population Census, Washington, Pierce County,Tacoma City, microfilm, National Archives, Anchorage, AK
  2. The 1900 census records indicate Luella is divorced; the 1895 Tacoma City Directory indicates Luella is a widow.
  3. Janice McIntyre, Alumni Relations & Events Manager, Annie Wright School, via electronic mail, August 19, 2004.
  4. Annie Wright School, "Founders Day Address," January 28, 2002,
  5. "Passes At O1ympia," Tacoma News Tribune, 13 August 1950.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Roll of Attorneys of the United States Circuit Court for District of Washington," Microfilm #1,617,966, Item 7, Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
  8. 1900 Federal Population Census, Washington, Pierce County, Tacoma City.
  9. "Mrs. Moore Is First Woman" Fairbanks Weekly News, May 22, 1908.
  10. 1880 and 1910 United States Census; International Genealogical Index.
  11. Dr. C. M. Moore Stricken Here," Tacoma News Tribune, November 1,1948.
  12. District Court Journal, State Archives, Juneau, Alaska, page 512.
  13. Society," Fairbanks Daily News," October 11 and 18,1908 and November 29, 1908.
  14. Tacoma City Directory, 1917, microfilm #1,035,719 Item #4-5, Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Salt Lake City, UT.
  15. "Passes At Olympia," Tacoma News Tribune, August 13, 1950.
  16. "Dr. C. M. Moore Stricken Here," Tacoma News Tribune, November 1, 1948.
  17. "Passes At Olympia," Tacoma News Tribune, August 13, 1950.


     Alaska Time Designed and Developed by Tex R Us LLC.