Arthur C. Mellette
Arthur C. Mellette
|1st Governor of South Dakota|
November 2, 1889 – January 3, 1893
|Preceded by||Himself |
as Governor of Dakota Territory
|Succeeded by||Charles H. Sheldon|
|10th Governor of Dakota Territory|
March 22, 1889 – November 2, 1889
|Preceded by||Louis K. Church|
|Succeeded by||John Miller|
as Governor of North Dakota
as Governor of South Dakota
|Born||June 23, 1842|
Henry County, Indiana
|Died||May 25, 1896 (aged 53)|
|Resting place||Mount Hope Cemetery (Watertown, South Dakota)|
|Alma mater||Indiana University|
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Early life, education, and Civil War
Mellette was the son of Charles Mellette and was born in Henry County, Indiana. He was educated at Marion Academy in Marion, Indiana. In 1862, Mellette entered Indiana University Bloomington as a sophomore and graduated in 1863. On October 6, 1864, he enlisted in Company H of the 9th Indiana Volunteers, serving as a conscripted soldier until mustering out on September 28, 1865. He served in the army as a substitute for his older invalid brother and experienced many humiliations as a result. In 1866, Mellette graduated from the School of Law at the Indiana University and went to Muncie, Indiana, where he began practicing law with Thomas J. Brady. On May 26, 1866, he married Margaret Wylie.
Mellette was elected as district attorney for Delaware County, Indiana. In 1870, Mellette purchased the Muncie Times, a newspaper which became influential and prosperous under his tutelage. During that same year, Mellette was elected the county superintendent of schools.
When his wife became ill, Mellette visited western states to find a climate that would be more beneficial to her. Mellette's family eventually settled in Springfield, Dakota Territory, for two years; and, Mellette served as register of the United States Land Office in Springfield until the land office was moved to Watertown, Dakota Territory, in 1880.
Political career in the Dakotas
In October 1885, the Republicans nominated Mellette for governor of Dakota Territory. In November 1885, Mellette ran unopposed for the office of governor; and, voters selected Huron as the temporary capitol of Dakota Territory. In 1889, voters approved the new constitution for South Dakota and elected Arthur C. Mellette as South Dakota's first Governor. On November 2, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison signed the proclamation to make South Dakota the fortieth state. Mellette County, South Dakota is named in his honor.
The family made what was meant to be a temporary move from Watertown to Pittsburg, Kansas in 1895. Mellette died May 25, 1896 while in Pittsburg. His body was sent back to Watertown and interred in Mount Hope Cemetery.
- Arthur C. Mellette's "Dakota Profile" biography
- Arthur C. Mellette's "Weekly South Dakotan" biography
- Arthur C. Mellette's biography at the Historical Society of North Dakota website
- Arthur C. Mellette at Find a Grave
| Governor of South Dakota
Charles H. Sheldon