Arthur Calvin Mellette
, 1842 May 25
) was the last Governor
of the Dakota Territory
and was the first Governor
of the state of South Dakota
Mellette was the son of Charles Mellette and was born in Henry County, Indiana
. He was educated at Marion Academy. In 1862, Mellette entered Indiana University
as a sophomore and graduated in 1863. On October 6
, Mellette enlisted in Company H of the 9th Indiana Volunteers, serving as a conscripted soldier until mustering out on September 28
. 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
, he married Margaret Wylie. Mellette was elected as district attorney for Delaware County, Indiana
. In 1870, he purchased the "Muncie Times" and made the newspaper very influential and prosperous. 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 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. 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.