Genealogical and Family History
STATE OF MAINE
Compiled under the editorial supervision of George Thomas Little, A. M., Litt. D.
LEWIS HISTORICAL PUBLISHING COMPANY
[Please see Index page for full citation.]
[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]
[Many families included in these genealogical records had their beginnings in Massachusetts.]
Most of the Melchers of New Hampshire and many of those of Maine are descended from Edward Melcher, who was of Portsmouth, N. H. in 1684, and died there in 1695. It is not improbable that the gallant soldier, successful merchant and distinguished citizen whose sketch follows was a descendant of the sturdy Edward of Portsmouth.
Major Holman Staples, son of James H. and Nancy (Curtis) Melcher, was born in Topsham, June 30, 1841. He attended the district schools, and at the age of fifteen years entered Maine State Seminary, now Bates College. He had nearly completed the course in that insitution when he enlisted, Aug. 29, 1862, as a private in Company B of the Twentieth Maine Volunteer Infantry, and was mustered in as a corporal. His regiment was in active service for nearly three years and he participated in some of the fiercest battles of the civil war, being at Antietam, Shepardstown Ford, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Five Forks, Appomattox, and others of less note. At Frederickburg he was promoted on the field for gallantry to sergeant major. This appointment was made by Colonel Ames, who subseuqently, April 20, 1863, appointed him first lieutenant of Company F. At Gettysburg his company, which carried the regimental colors, did brilliant service in saving Little Round Top. His captain being wounded early in the battle, Lieut. Melcher took command of the company and was at its head when the regiment charged the enemy at this point. He was appointed by Colonel Chamberlain acting adjutant of the regiment, and thus served uner the reorganization of the army by General Grant in March, 1864. He was then assigned to the command of Company F, and thus served through the Wilderness. In the first day's fighting at Spottsylvania he was severly wounded and was sent home to recuperate. He returned to the front in October, having been promoted in July to a captaincy. But on account of his wounds he was unable to perform service on foot and was ....
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....tinued on the staff of General Charles Griffin, who succeeded to the command of the corps, and then as inspector general on the staff of General Chamberlain, in which position he was serving when mustered out in July, 1865. Three months before being mustere out he was brevetted major for meritorious service at Five Forks and Appomattox. In 1864, under the guns of Petersburg, he cast his first vote for President Lincoln.
At the close of the war Major Melcher removed to Portland, where he continued to reside the remainder of his life. Soon after going there he became one of the firm of Churchill, Hunt & Melcher, wholesale grocers, Mr. Hunt retiring in 1869. This firm continued till it was dissolved in 1881, and thereafter Mr. Melcher conducted business under the firm name of H. S. Melcher & Company. The business was incorporated as H. S. Melcher Company, and so continues. As a business man mr. Melcher had few superiors. Careful and conservative in all his operations, avoiding speculative ventures, he was highly successful, and under his personal direction his business grew to large proportions, extending over Maine and portions of New Hampshire and Vermont.
He was public spirited and identified with all the movements looking to the city's interest, the best welfare of its citizens and the prosperity of its religious and educational institutions and public business organizations. He was for years president of the Wholesale Grocers' and Flour Dealers' Association, was also president of the Merchant's Loan and Building Association, a director of the Cumberland National Bank, was president of the Twelfth Maine Regiment Association, and a prominent member of the Portland Exchange and Board of Trade. He was also past commander of Bosworth Post, registrar of the Loyal Legion, a member of the Masonic fraternity, of the Free Street Baptist Church, an was for several years president of the Memorial Day Commission. In 1880 he was elected to the city council, and re-elected the following year. In 1882-83, he was a member of the board of aldermen. In the selection of Major Melcher, who served as the mayor of Portland in the two municipal years of 1889-90, the city followed the example that it had taken in 1876, when General Fessenden was elected, choosing for its chief magistrate a gentleman who had made a brilliant record in the civil war. He was nominated without opposition, Feb. 27, and on March 5 following was elected by a vote of 3,626 to 2,224 for Mr. Wilson, his chief opponent. He recommended that the name of Market Square be changed to Monument Square, a recommendation which was followed by the city government. On Memorial Day of this year the corner stone of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument was laid with appropriate exercises. In 1890 Major Melcher was renominated, and on March 4, re-elected by a vote of 2,988 to 2, 171 for his leading competitor, Captain Deering. During his administration the Fort Allen lot on the Eastern promenade was purchased at a cost of $15,000, the vicinity of the Union station was named Railway Square, and the Grand Army of the Republic held its annual meeting in Portland. During the administration of Major Melcher the city debt was reduced to $340,000 and the rate of taxation fifty cents a thousand. With the exception of representing Portland in the lower house of the legislature in 1898, Major Melcher held no public office after his retirement from the mayoralty. As mayor of the city he was a conscientious, painstaking executive, devoting a great deal of his time to the public business. His administration was clean and aggressive, one of the most successful in the history of the city.
Personaly Mayor Melcher was a modest but most delightful companion, and of him it can be said without exaggeration that at all times and at all places he was a gentleman. He was sympathetic and kind hearted, being ever ready to lend his aid and influnece to a just cause. Among the members of the Grand Army he was admired and respected, especially by those of its members who were his comrades in the rebellion, in which he played a brilliant and conspicuous role.
Holman S. Melcher married (first) in June, 1868, Ellen M. McLellan, of Portland, who died in May, 1872. He married (second) May 21, 1874, Alice E. Hart, born in Portland, daughter of Deacon Henry B. and Sarah (Hill) Hart, of Portland. Children of Henry B. and Sarah (Hill) Hart were: Henry Augustua, Sarah E. and Alice E.
Child of Major & Mrs. Melcher:
Georgiana Hill, born in Portland, married Harry Tukey Johnson.