PIERRE, S.D. – Arthur C. Mellette was the last Governor of Dakota Territory, and the first Governor of the State of South Dakota. While living in Watertown, S.D., Mellette joined the fight for South Dakota’s statehood, and is recognized as one of the state’s Great Faces.
Arthur Mellette first moved to Dakota Territory in 1879, seeking a better climate for his wife’s health. Eventually moving to Watertown in 1880, his enthusiasm and advocacy for splitting Dakota Territory into two states ultimately led him to become the tenth and final Governor of Dakota Territory. South Dakota gained statehood on Nov. 2, 1889, and Mellette was elected that year as the state’s first Governor.
Mellette left public office in 1894 and moved to Kansas. However, his original Italianate home still stands, fully restored, as a museum in Watertown. The museum is operated by the Mellette Memorial Association, and is filled with original furniture, portraits and Mellette family heirlooms.
The Mellette House is open for guided tours May 1-Oct. 1, Tues.-Sun., from 1-5 p.m. Central Time. There is no admission fee; reservations are recommended for groups.
South Dakota’s Great Faces weekly press release series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism, designed to highlight people who have had significant impacts on South Dakota, particularly in the visitor industry. Click on the special “South Dakota’s Great Faces” link at www.MediaSD.com to access the complete list of articles.
Information for this release was obtained from the Mellette Memorial Foundation and the South Dakota State Historical Society.
Media & Public Relations Manager