Melville J. Salter

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Melville J. Salter
Lieutenant Governor of Kansas
In office
Preceded by Elias Sleeper Stover
Succeeded by Lyman Underwood Humphrey

Melville Judson Salter (born Sardinia, New York, June 20, 1834;[1] died Pawnee Station, Kansas, March 12, 1896[2]) was a politician and civic leader who was twice elected the eighth Lieutenant Governor of Kansas serving under Governor George T. Anthony.

Salter's family left their farm in New York and moved to Battle Creek, Michigan when Salter was one year old. In 1840 the family moved again, to Marshall, Michigan, where he became a Baptist at the age of 16. Salter went west to California in 1852 to seek his fortune in the gold fields.[3] In 1856 he learned of the death of his mother and decided to return home; while in Panama, a chance decision to take a railroad excursion with a friend saved him from the Watermelon War riot.[4] He remained in Michigan until 1871. Salter then bought land near Thayer in Chetopa Township, Neosho County, Kansas, where he served for five years as township trustee.[5] For several years he was the president of the Settlers' Protective Association, which was organized to protect settlers' land claims from competing claims by Native Americans and railroads. The settlers' claims were vindicated by a US Supreme Court decision (Leavenworth Lawrence and Galveston Railroad Company v. United States) delivered in 1876. Salter was elected as a Republican to be lieutenant governor of Kansas in 1874 and again in 1876. He resigned in 1877 to take a post as registrar of the land office in Independence, Kansas, which he held until 1884. By 1890 Salter had moved from Independence to Pawnee Station in Bourbon County, Kansas, where he ran a store with two of his sons.[6]

Salter served on the Board of Trustees of the Kansas State Agricultural College (now Kansas State University) from 1875 to 1880, and served as the chairman for four years.[7]

Salter was a strict Baptist, and one source tells the story of how, asked to organize a dance for the governor, Lt. Gov. Salter instead read psalms and prayers until all the musicians left.[8]

Salter married Sarah Hinkle in 1856; they had three sons. His son Lewis A. Salter, a lawyer and businessman, married Susanna M. Kinsey, who as Susanna M. Salter became the first elected female mayor in the United States.[9]


  1. ^ History of the State of Kansas, William G. Cutler, "Montgomery County"
  2. ^ Kansas Historical Society website, list of lieutenant governors with brief bios
  3. ^ A Standard History of Oklahoma, Volume 4, American Historical Society, 1916, Joseph Bradfield Thoburn, p. 1551-2
  4. ^ The Baptist Encyclopaedia, William Cathcart, Philadelphia: Everts, 1881, p. 1023, entry "Lieut.-Gov. Melville Judson Salter"
  5. ^ William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas online
  6. ^ Portrait and Biographical Album of Sumner County, Kansas, Chicago: Chapman bros., 1890, p. 208, entry "Lewis A. Salter"
  7. ^ Nineteenth Biennial Report of the Board of Directors of the Kansas Historical Society, ed. William Connelly, Topeka: Kansas State Printing Office, 1915, p. 130
  8. ^ Jeremiah Mickel autobiography
  9. ^ Susanna Madora Salter-First Woman Mayor (Kansas Collection-Kansas Historical Quarterlies)
Political offices
Preceded by
Elias Sleeper Stover
Lieutenant Governor of Kansas
Succeeded by
Lyman Underwood Humphrey