ARTHUR CALVIN MELLETTE was born in Henry County, Indiana. After attending the University of Indiana, he served in the 9th Indiana Infantry of the Union Army during the Civil War. He went on to become an attorney, businessman, landowner, and newspaperman. He was editor of the Muncie Times, Prosecuting Attorney of Muncie, Indiana from 1868 to 1870, and a member of the Indiana House of Representatives from 1871 to 1875. He then moved to the Dakota Territory, where he was Registrar of the Land Office in Springfield and a member of the Provisional Constitutional Convention in 1883 before being named Provisional Governor of South Dakota in 1885. Although South Dakota’s failure to receive statehood meant that he did not serve, he became Provisional Governor of the Dakota Territory in 1889 and was a popular choice for governor of South Dakota when the territory was divided into two states that year. In addition to organizing state government, Mellette’s administration helped provide relief for farmers stricken by a prolonged drought that occurred during the 1890s. Mellette was reelected in 1890 but did not run for reelection two years later, instead returning to the practice of law. He later moved to Pittsburg, Kansas, where he died.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 2. New York: James T. White & Company.
South Dakota State Historical Society