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Julien Monnet, North Dakota Tennis Champion, 1904


Summer for some includes tennis. The ‘thwwwwack’ of a racket has echoed in North Dakota since the mid-1880s, when ‘lawn tennis’ infiltrated the region.

Grand Forks organized its tennis club in 1885, and by the first decade of the 1900s North Dakota had established state championships for individuals and doubles.

On this date, in 1904, the Grand Forks Herald reported that Julien Charles Monnet, a lawyer from Cando, age 35, had won the singles championship at the state-wide tournament in Grand Forks’ Town and Country Club tennis-grounds. Monnet defeated Theodore Elton in three straight sets. Monnet had also won the year before, when the 1903 championship was held in Fargo.

Mr. Monnet was a “wiry man,” with “a tennis champion’s body,” standing five-feet-seven-inches tall and weighing 175 pounds. Born in Iowa in 1868, Monnet had been educated as a lawyer at the University of Iowa. He then came to North Dakota to practice law, first to Bathgate in 1893, then Langdon in 1895, and finally Cando in 1901.

Monnet was such a good tennis player that he was not only the state champion of North Dakota, but also became the singles champion of Iowa and Illinois during his prime years.

However, Julien Monnet’s career in the legal profession surpassed even his tennis prowess. In 1905, shortly after winning his second North Dakota championship, he returned to the University of Iowa with his wife, Helen, and their three children. There he obtained a master’s degree in law, followed by further study at Harvard, earning a second law degree in 1908.

Following a short stint as a professor of law at George Washington University, Monnet accepted a call from the University of Oklahoma to establish a School of Law at its campus in Norman in 1909.

It was at the University of Oklahoma where Julien Monnet became a renowned statewide figure. For 32 years he served as Dean of the Law School. The law building was named Monnet Hall in his honor.

J.C. Monnet retired from his university duties in 1941 and was swiftly inducted into Oklahoma’s Hall of Fame. He died in 1961, at age 83. His North Dakota connections have been largely forgotten, but his legacy as a tennis champion from Cando may henceforth and evermore live on.

Dakota Datebook written by Dr. Steve Hoffbeck, MSU Moorhead History Department.

Sources: “Monnet Is It, Cando Man Defends Title To Tennis Champion,” Grand Forks Daily Herald, August 11, 1904, p. 6.

“State Tennis Tourney,” Grand Forks Daily Herald, August 6, 1904, p. 6; “To Play Finals,” Grand Forks Daily Herald, August 10, 1904, p. 6.

“Monnet Won In Tennis Singles,” Grand Forks Daily Herald, August 14, 1903, p. 1; “J.C. Monnet of Cando,” Bismarck Tribune, August 15, 1903, p. 2.

“J.C. Monnet Is Given High Post,” Iowa City [IA] Press-Citizen, April 4, 1908, p. 4.

“Glad To Be Back; Practice Of Law At Cando,” Grand Forks Daily Herald, November 9, 1901, p. 2.

“Dr. Julien Monnet of O.U. Is Dead,” Ada [OK] Weekly News, April 12, 1951, p. 8.

“Julien C. Monnet,” Iowa City Press-Citizen, October 9, 1951, p. 4; “Former Iowa Citizen,” Iowa City Press-Citizen, June 3, 1947, p. 8.

Carolyn G. Hanneman, “Monnet, Julien Charles (1868-1951),” Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History, "http://www.okhistory.org" www.okhistory.org , accessed on July 11, 2017.

“Julien C. Monnet,” U.S. Census, 1910, Langdon, Cavalier County, ND.

David W. Levy, The University of Oklahoma: A History; Volume 1, 1890-1917 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2005), p. 218.