History of Benson & Houston Law Firm
The firm is recognized as being the oldest continual legal practice in the State of Oklahoma, being originally founded by C.H. Mauntel in 1898. Many attorneys that practiced with the firm went on to be Justices of Peace.
C.H. "Chris" Mauntel
Practiced: 1898 - 1958
C.H. "Chris" Mauntel founded the firm as a sole practitioner in Alva, Oklahoma Territory, in 1898. Mr. Mauntel, a native of Indiana, was recognized as being an excellent attorney and community leader. Many of Mr. Mauntel's cases and exploits are still discussed today. Mr. Mauntel was with the firm until retiring in 1958.
Practiced: 1924 - 1951
F.B.H. Spellman joined Chris Mauntel in 1924 and they practiced together as Mauntel and Spellman until 1947 when John B. Doolin, Jr. joined the practice.
Mr. Spellman is recognized as being responsible for starting the Oklahoma Bar Journal and served as its first Editor and Chief from its initial publication in April 1930. Mr. Spellman, from his office in Alva, compiled the weekly publication, published locally and placed the publications on a train at the Alva depot for delivery across the state. Oklahoma was recognized as one of the first states to publish a weekly bar journal that provided its members with recent court decisions.
Mr. Spellman left the firm in 1950 to begin a long and distinguished career as District Judge for the Fourth District of Oklahoma. Judge Spellman served in this capacity until 1970.
John B. Doolin, Jr.
Practiced: 1947 - 1963
John B. Doolin joined Mauntel and Spellman in 1947 and the firm changed its name to Mauntel, Spellman & Doolin.
Mr. Doolin is recognized as being one of the attorneys responsible for bringing to light the corruption scandal of the Oklahoma Supreme Court in the 1950s, which resulted in the impeachment of many of the Oklahoma Supreme Court justices.
Mr. Doolin was subsequently appointed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court in 1973 and served as Chief Justice. Justice Doolin retired in 1992 from the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Donald L. Benson
Practiced: 1961 - 2005
Mr. Benson joined John B. Doolin in 1961. Mr. Benson was recognized for being an excellent attorney and community leader. He was also proudly recognized for being an ardent supporter of the Democratic party. There are numerous stories regarding political "conversations" between him and Tom Morford, an ardent Republican who joined the practice in 1963.
Mr. Benson practiced until his death in 2005.
Practiced: 1963 - 1998
Tom Morford joined Don Benson in 1963 and practiced under the name Morford and Benson for many years. Morford was an Alfalfa County native and served numerous terms as an Oklahoma Representative and later as Senator. Mr. Morford was also a Colonel in the Army Reserves.
Mr. Morford was with the firm until his retirement in 1998.
William E. Gruber
Practiced: 1970 - 1979
Mr. Gruber, a former county attorney and Special Agent for the F.B.I., joined the firm in 1970. Mr. Gruber left the firm in 1979 to practice with his son. Mr. Gruber subsequently served as Associate District Judge for Woods County.