History of the Upper Ohio Valley,
Judge Thayer Melvin, a native of Hancock county, W. Va., was admitted to the practice of law in said county, in 1853, some time before reaching his majority. He was elected prosecuting attorney in 1855, and was re-elected and served several terms very acceptably to the people. While serving in the capacity of prosecuting attorney for
Hancock county, he removed to Wheeling and became the junior member of the law firm of Pendleton & Melvin, attending regularly, however, the courts of his native county. In 1861, Judge Melvin, in response to his country's call, exchanged his law books for the musket and
entered the volunteer army as a private. He served until the close of the war, the greater portion of the time as adjutant general of the department of West Virginia, commanded by different general officers, viz.: Kelley, Seigel, Hunter, Crook, Emory; and was on Gen.
Sheridan's staff in the Shenandoah campaign of 1864. In 1866 he resumed the practice of law at Wellsburg, and in the same year was nominated and elected attorney general of West Virginia, and reelected in 1868. Before the expiration of his second term he resigned the office of attorney general and was appointed judge of the first judicial district of West Virginia to fill vacancy caused by the death of Judge Caldwell, and by being twice re-elected he
served on the bench until 1881, a period of twelve years. Since his retirement from the bench he has been actively engaged in the practice in the different courts, being a member of the firm of Ewing, Melvin & Riley. Judge Melvin did not have the advantage of a classical education that is vouchsafed to most young men entering the law, but by a course of reading which he has systematically pursued he is familiar with the best English writers of the day. To all the positions of honor to which he has been elevated, he has brought a well trained mind. He is safe and cautious in his practice - on the bench he was most painstaking, and his decisions were reached only after the most careful research. If he had a fault, it was that of
over cautiousness. He is regarded as an able and erudite lawyer, an impartial and honest judge.
Vol. I, pages 546-547.
Brant & Fuller, 1890.
History of Wheeling City and Ohio County, West Virginia and
Hon. Thayer Melvin, has always always belonged to the "Panhandle." He was born and reared in the village of Fairview in that portion of Brooke county, Virginia, which in 1847 became Hancock. His parents wre James and Philenia (Thayer) Melvin, the former a Pennsylvanian, of North of Ireland stock, and the latter a New Englander, whose people came to Virginia while she was young.
Hon. Gibson Lamb Cranmer, 1902; pages 716-717.
Judge Melvin was the oldest of five children, and received a fair English education in the common and high schools of the vicinity. At the age of seventeen years, he began the study of law in Fairview, then the county-seat, and later, in Lisbon, Ohio. He was licensed and admitted to practice in 1853, at the early age of eighteen years. He began his legal career in his native place, and in 1855, while still in his minority, was elected prosecuting attorney of the county. He was elected for full terms in 1856 and 1860, although from 1857 to 1860 he resided in Wheeling, where he was associated with Joseph H. Pendleton, a distinguished lawyer of his day. Shortly after the breaking out of the Civil War, he enlisted in Company F, 1st Reg., W. Va. Vol. Inf., and served for several months as orderly sergeant and then as 1st lieutenant. He left his company to accept a federal commission as assistant adjutant general of volunteers, filling that position until late in 1865. He was then honorably discharged from the army, with brevets for meritorious services in the line of duty. Locating in Wellsburg in 1866, he was in that year again elected prosecuting attorney of Hancock county, and was elected by the republican party attorney general of the state. He was again elected two years thereafter, to the latter office, and resigned in June, 1869, to accept a commission as judge of the First Judicial District. A vacancy had resulted from the death of Judge E. H. Caldwell, and the attorneys of the circuit had signified to the Governor their desire for his appointment. Before this, he had taken up his residence in Wheeling, and under an appointment from the Governor had assisted in completing the codification of the laws of the state. Subsequently, in 1872, he was elected judge of the same district for the full term of eight years. In 1880, he was elected one of the two judges to which the circuit had become entitled, Judge George E. Boyd being the other successful candidate. Resigning in November of the following year, he resumed practice in Wheeling. He became a member of the following firms in their order, - Ewing, Melvin & Riley; Ewing, Melvin & Ewing, and Melvin & Ewing. In September, 1899, immediately after the death of Judge Joseph R. Paull, Judge Melvin was appointed to his old position of judge, - again at the instance of the attorneys of the different counties, - to fill the vacancy thus occasioned. In the succeeding year, an election being in order, he was nominated by both of the prominent political parties, and was continued in office by the people, without opposition oe dissent. He is still performing judicial duties, and gratefully acknowledges the flattering and unanticipated compliments bestowed by his brethren of the bar and by the people.
Politically, Judge Melvin was, at the beginning, a follower of Henry Clay, but since the war he has acted with the Republican party, at least on national questions. He is not recognized as a partisan, however, and has never figured in the political arena, having always preferred to devote himself exclusively to the profession of his choice.