HON. MELVIN NICHOLS.
Hon. Melvin Nichols is now serving for the third term as county and prosecuting attorney of Crook county and makes his home at Sundance. He is a broad-minded man of most liberal education who has been a close student of the leading political, economic and sociological problems of the day, in connection with which he has kept abreast with the best thinking men of the age. By reason of his broad study and ability he has become a leader of public thought and opinion in the community in which he resides and has left the impress of his individuality in considerable measure upon the history of his adopted state. Other writers have termed him "the leading attorney of Crook county."
Mr. Nichols was born in Aurora, Illinois, November 9, 1844, a son of John and Mary (Chase) Nichols. The father was a native of Burlington, Vermont, born October 1, 1808, and his father was one of the minutemen of the Revolutionary war, being connected with the troops who in that section of the country were known as the "Green Mountain Boys." Mary (Chase) Nichols, the mother of Melvin Nichols, was born near Salem, Massachusetts, March 26, 1809, and in early girlhood attended the same school as Benjamin Butler, while John Nichols was a playmate in early life of Erigham Young and Stephen A. Douglas. Throughout the period of his manhood he was identified with agricultural pursuits and after many years' residence in Illinois he passed away in Aurora on the 21st of December, 1863.
Melvin Nichols had mastered the branches of learning taught in the public schools of his native city and was ready to enter college when he enlisted for service in the Civil war, becoming a member of Company H, Sixty-fifth Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry, on the 12th of March, 1862. After two years' service he reenlisted on the 31st of March, 1864, at Knoxville, Tennessee, in the same company and regiment to serve for three years, and was finally mustered out, reaching home on the 1st day of August, 1865. He had participated in many hotly contested battles in which his regiment took part, and was captured at Harpers Ferry in September, 1862, in what was known as Colonel Miles' surrender.
For a few months after returning home Mr. Nichols aided in the work of his father's farm, but soon abandoned the plow to take up study in preparation for the ministry. He devoted about ten years of his life to preaching and then became a law student in the office and under the direction of Jake Koder, of Monroe, Iowa. After thorough preliminary reading he was admitted to the bar in March, 1877, and since that time has devoted his attention largely to the practice of law. He came to Wyoming on the 27th of January, 1887, and for three years thereafter was engaged in law practice in Douglas, when he removed to Sundance on the 9th of August, 1889. Through the intervening period of almost thirty years he has been prominently identified with the profession in Sundance and is regarded as one of the most prominent attorneys of northern Wyoming. His practice has always been large and of an important character. He has been engaged in thirty-seven homicide cases, either as prosecutor or on the defense. The offices which he has filled have largely been in the direct line of his profession. He is now serving for the third term as county and prosecuting attorney, having been first elected in 1890. He was afterward appointed to fill out an unexpired term left vacant by the appointment of J. L. Stotts to the bench. In 1916 he was again elected to the office, in which he is now serving. His political activity has extended to the state legislature. Always an uncompromising republican, he was nominated on the party ticket in 1896 for representative to the house and was elected. In 1900 he was chosen to represent his district in the state senate and was there instrumental in securing the passage of the present anti-gambling law. Wyoming was the first territory to adopt woman's suffrage and the last state to prohibit legalized gambling. At the next election he was again a candidate for the office, but was defeated, largely because of his activity on the side of the anti-gambling bill. He never falters, however, in support of what he believes to be right, and his position upon any vital question is never an equivocal one. He stands fearlessly for plans and measures which he believes will advance the interests of the state along material, political and moral lines, and his standards of citizenship are most high.
On the 7th of October, 1866, Mr. Nichols was united in marriage to Miss Almeda R. Cooper, of Kingston, Illinois, and to them have been born four children: Horace W., living in Boise, Idaho; A. M., who is a bank president and president of the A. M. Nichols Supply Company of Newcastle, widely recognized as one of the prominent business men of northern Wyoming; Eva E., the wife of Hon. A. V. Eichelberger, of Emmett, Idaho; and Bertha Aree, the wife of Joe Lytic, one of the prominent newspaper men of northern Wyoming.
Mr. Nichols is widely known in Masonic circles, holding membership in Sundance Lodge, No. 9, A. F. & A. M.; Wyoming Consistory, No. 1, A. & A. S. R.; and Kalif Temple. A. A. O. N. M. S., of Sheridan. Gifted by nature with marked powers as an orator and debater, he has again and again been called upon to make public addresses and lectures and to debate on almost every subject of interest to the people among whom he has lived. At any and all times he is ready to handle any subject assigned to him, for his reading is most broad and comprehensive and his memory most retentive. He is recognized as a forceful and convincing speaker. When plans were being made for the national convention of the Grand Army of the Republic at Portland, Maine, they advertised for a speaker who could speak on any subject at a moment's notice, and Mr. Nichols was recommended for the occasion. He is one of the most prominent and progressive men of the state, one of its ablest lawyers and capable legislators.