Columbiana County, Ohio
Columbiana County, Ohio
Judge Thayer Melvin
There have been, and are yet, natural lawyers and jurists as there are natural musicians and natural artists. Judge Melvin was a natural born jurist. He was born at Fairview, Hancock County, Virginia, in 1837, and received a fair English education in the common and high schools of his native and adjoining counties to begin with, and later by study and careful reading of good books he became a really accomplished scholar and litterateur, and a man of broad and general knowledge. At the age of seventeen years he began the systematic study of the law in his home town, which was the seat of justice of the county at that time, and was furnished books and was counseled by the lawyers of the town. He had a strong, clear mind, and was remarkably industrious. Later he went to New Lisbon, Ohio, where he remained for something like a year, and was tutored by a friend who took a special interest in his advancement, so that in 1853, at the age of eighteen, he passed the required examination, and was admitted to the Bar of Hancock County. During his minority, in 1855, he was elected Prosecuting Attorney of Hancock County. Our present statute prohibits one from receiving license as an attorney at law until he is twenty-one years of age, and it is also mandatory that no man is eligible to hold an office of any kind until he is full twenty-one. We believe these prohibitions existed at that time. If they did it is apparent that no one paid any attention to them, and consequently Judge Melvin was allowed to begin, what turned out to be, a distinguished professional career at least three years ahead of time. Any way "he made good," but it could not be "put over" in these times. In 1856 and in 1860 he was elected and re-elected to the same office, notwithstanding the fact that in 1857 he had moved his residence to Wheeling, Ohio County, where he had associated himself in the practice of the law with Joseph H. Pendleton, a prominent lawyer of that period.
The Civil War came on about this time and young Melvin promptly volunteered to defend the flag as a private soldier in Company F, 1st Regiment, West Virginia Volunteer Infantry. In a very short time he was commissioned an Assistant Adjutant-General of Volunteers, and served in that capacity until the close of the war, when he was honorably discharged. He located in Wellsburg, Brooke County, and resumed the practice of his profession. In 1866 he was again elected Prosecuting Attorney of Hancock County. He was Attorney-General of West Virginia from January 1, 1867, to July 1, 1869, when he resigned to accept the office of Circuit Judge of the First Judicial District of the State, to which he had been appointed by the Governor to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Judge E. H. Caldwell. This was the beginning of the career of one of the ablest and most upright Judges the State of West Virginia has ever produced. Tiring of the "wool sack," however, he resigned from the Bench after serving ably for years, in November, 1881, and returned to the practice in the City of Wheeling until the death of Judge Joseph R. Paull, when he was appointed by Governor Atkinson to fill the unexpired term of the deceased Judge. When his term expired he was elected for another term of eight years without opposition, and died from apoplexy before the term expired. He was a Whig prior to the Civil War, but after the "cruel war was over " he became a Republican, and remained such until his death, but was never a strenuous partisan. In the discharge of his judicial duties he knew no party or creed. He sought only to be just and fair, and rarely, if ever, failed in deciding right. It was a rare occurrence for one of his decisions to be reversed by the Appellate Court. Furthermore he was one of the most courteous, urbane of men, and was at all times absolutely honest and sincere. He died in the City of Wheeling where he had spent the greater part of a long and useful life, mourned by all the people who admired his manly and noble character. He never married. [Source: "Bench and bar of West Virginia" edited by George Wesley Atkinson, 1919 - TK - Sub by FoFG]
Was born in Beaver county, Pennsylvania, March 29, 1836; is a son of John and Sarah (Haines) Miller. He came to this county in 1871, and has helped administer the affairs of the county by filling the office of township treasurer three years and land appraiser in 1880, and also other offices. Mr. Miller's first marriage took place in Meigs county, Ohio, June 14, 1840. His wife was Harriet E., daughter of David and Elizabeth (Cummings) Grapes. She was born June 2, 1842, and died November 17, 1866, leaving three children, viz: Arnetta J., born May 24, 1861, resides at home, as do the other two; John E., February 14, 1863; David S., August 29, 1865. The second wife of Mr. Miller is Julia A. Barton, who was born in Columbiana county, Ohio, December 26, 1835. They were married in Gallia county, March 8, 1868, and have the following children: James A., born April 22, 1869; Isaac E., March 29, 1871; Cora L., January 25, 1873. Mrs. Miller was formerly married, in this county, to Dennis G. Armstrong, April 2, 1857. He was born in Washington county, Ohio, July 5, 1832. He was a son of Theodosia and Mary (Sprague) Armstrong. His death occurred June 21, 1864. The following are his children: Austin T., born January 3, 1858, resides in Meigs county, Ohio; Winafred M. (Coulter), September 16, 1859, resides in Meigs county, Ohio; Dennis A., February 3, 1862, resides in Meigs county. Mr. Miller's brother, William B., served in the war of the rebellion, enlisted in 1862 in the 7th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry for three years, and was discharged at the close of the war. Mrs. Miller's first husband, Dennis G. Armstrong, was also a soldier, enlisting in 1861 in the 53d Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was wounded in a skirmish at Alatona Pass, Georgia, and died there in the hospital of his wounds, June 21, 1864, leaving a widow and three children. She had also a brother, Thomas A. Barton, who served in the late war, enlisting in 1862 in the 91st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He joined Captain Blaser's sharp-shooters and was killed in an engagement near Harper's Ferry, in 1864. Mrs. Miller's grandfather, Thomas Barton, in 1862, the former at the age of 84 years, and the latter at 86 years. Mr. Miller is a farmer and proprietor of a saw-mill. His postoffice address is Alberta, Meigs county, Ohio. [SOURCE: History of Gallia County: Containing A Condensed History of the County; Biographical Sketches; General Statistics, Miscellaneous Matters, &c; James P. Averill; Hardesty & CO., Publishers, Chicago and Toledo. 1882.]
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