Biography of Maj. James A. Melton
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The intelligence and ability shown by Maj. Melton as a progressive tiller of the soil, and the interest he has taken in the advancement of measures for the good of Stone County, Missouri, caused him long since to be classed as one of the leading citizens of his section. All that he has achieved or gained has come as the result of his own efforts, and he deserves much credit for the determined way in which he faced and overcame many difficulties.
In tracing his genealogy, we find that his ancestors came originally from England, settled in North Carolina, and the grandfather, Ansel Melton, who was a native of that State, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. The latter moved his family to Cannon County, Tennessee, and settled near Sugar Tree Knob in 1810, being one of the very first settlers of that State. He lived to be nearly one hundred years old, and died on the farm where he had first settled. His wife, too, reached an extraordinary age, dying when one hundred and four years of age. The Melton family for the most part held membership in the Christian Church. The father of our subject, Austin Melton, was born in the Old North State, and was but five years of age when he moved with his parents to Cannon County, Tennessee There he grew to manhood and remained until 1832, when he married Miss Alcey Haley, a native of Shelby County, Tennessee, born about 1807, and the daughter of early pioneers of that State. This family was well known in Tennessee and the father of Mrs. Melton died there. The mother, however, came to Polk County, Missouri, and there passed the closing scenes of her life. After his marriage, Austin Melton moved to Polk County, Missouri, settled on a farm, and there resided until 1840, when he moved to Stone County. He located on land a mile south of Galena, where Frank Seaman now lives, took the farm from the Government, and became the owner of an immense tract. There he resided up to 1857, when he moved to Laclede County, Missouri, and settled nine miles southeast of Lebanon. While a resident of Stone County he held the responsible position of county treasurer for eight years, thus showing his popularity, and he held other positions of note. In politics he was always a Democrat, and an active man in public affairs. His death, which occurred on his farm in Laclede County March 18, 1893, was the occasion of universal sorrow, for all felt the loss they sustained by the departure of such a man. Mrs. Melton died in 1857. They were the parents of the following children: Elizabeth, deceased; John E., deceased; Catherine, residing in Laclede County; Elisha J., residing in Marionville, Missouri; Emaline, of Springfield; George W., deceased; James A., subject; Martha, deceased; Joel D., of Galena; William, died young, and Thomas H., also died young. This family experienced many of the trials and hardships of pioneer life. Their parents made the trip from Tennessee to Missouri in an ox cart of two wheels and were several weeks on the journey. After the death of the mother of the above children Mr. Melton married a Miss Dennis, who bore him one daughter, Nancy, who is married and resides on the home place in Laclede County, Missouri
The original of this notice was born in Polk County, Missouri, May 15, 1838, and was seventh in order of birth of the above mentioned children. He attended the schools of his day, but for the most part he has been his own teacher, and is a well posted man. Being a natural mechanic he became a blacksmith and wheel-wright, and followed the former occupation for twenty-five years. When the war broke out, or in August, 1861, he enlisted in Company 1, Second Kansas Cavalry, which was afterward attached to the Sixth Missouri Cavalry, and he served until December 8, when he was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant of Company B, Woods’ Battalion, serving in the same until August 7, 1863. He then resigned and came home, but subsequently reenlisted in the Second Arkansas Cavalry under Col. John E. Phelps, and was major of the Second Battalion, Second Arkansas Cavalry, serving in that capacity until the 28th of February, 1865, when he came home. He participated in the following battles: Wilson’s Creek, Vicksburg, the Cross Roads, Trenton, Jackson, Champion Hill, Bridgeport Crossing, Big Black Crossing, etc. At Vicksburg Maj. Melton’s regiment was ordered to take part in the Red River expedition to northern Louisiana. He resigned after the battle of Vicksburg and came home, subsequently entering the Second Arkansas Cavalry, and during Price’s raid was detailed to hold the post at Cassville. He was wounded in the left arm in February, 1864, but was disabled only a short time. He was an efficient and worthy officer, and no braver one ever wore shoulder straps.
After the war the Major came to Galena and practiced medicine for about two years. He then opened a store, followed merchandising for a year and a half, and moved to a farm about ten miles north of Galena, where in connection with farming he worked at the blacksmith’s and woodworker’s trades until 1869. At that date he moved to Cassville and the next spring went to Butler County, Kan., where he remained until 1874. Returning to Stone County he bought a farm of about 200 acres on Flat Creek, an old settled place, and now has one of the best improved tracts of land in the county. He has a good modern house, and his outbuildings are substantial and commodious. He is engaged in farming and stock raising and has made a complete success of both. He was first married in 1865 to Mrs. Lydia A. McCasky, daughter of Charles Waters, who was from Virginia. Two children were born to them: Charles, who died young, and Florence, a teacher in Galena. Mrs. Melton died February 14, 1870, and three years later the Major married the widow of Gilbert Barnett and daughter of Calvin Carney, of Barry County, Missouri, one of the old pioneers of the same.
The second Mrs. Melton was a native of Illinois, born near Albin, Edwards County, December 14, 1841. She was one of ten children, her mother being Clarissa (Bassett) Carney. Our subject and his present wife have reared three children: Ida M. John C. and James F. The family attend the Christian Church of which Mrs. Melton is a member. Maj. Melton is a strong advocate of Republican principles, and in 1865 was appointed clerk of Stone County. In 1893 he was elected to the office of presiding judge of the county. Of unquestioned ability, a ready debater, a fluent speaker, he stands today among our foremost men. He has ever been a leader in public affairs, and is well and favorably known to every one in the county. While residing in Kansas he held a number of prominent positions, and after he came here, in 1890, he held the office of census enumerator of Flat Creek and Ruth Townships. Maj. Melton joined the Masonic order at August, Kan., in 1872, and is now a member of Galena Lodge No. 515, being a charter member. He was a member of the Union League soon after the war and is now a member of the G. A. R. While young he taught school with considerable success in this county.