Arthur C. 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.

Arthur Mellette
Photo courtesy of South Dakota State Historical Society