Mellette was born in Indiana. He served in the state legislature of
Indiana. When his wife got sick with tuberculosis, they moved to Dakota
Territory. They hoped the drier climate would make her better. Mellette
lived in Watertown. He joined the fight for statehood. He helped write
the state constitution. Then Benjamin Harrison became president of the
United States. He was Mellette’s friend from Indiana. He chose
Mellette to be governor of Dakota Territory. The year was 1889. That was
also the year South Dakota became a state. The citizens liked Mellette.
They voted to keep him as governor of the new state. His years as
governor were hard. There was drought and other problems. He died in
1896. His house in Watertown is now a museum.
Dakota State Historical Society