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William Bromwell Melish
ONE OF the dominant factors in the business world of
southern Ohio is William Bromwell Melish, a man who is possessed of strong mental powers, invincible courage, and a determined purpose that cannot be easily thwarted. He is essentially a man of affairs, of sound judgment, keen discernment, and far-seeing in what he undertakes, as every enterprise to which he has addressed himself has resulted in liberal financial returns. His extensive business interests are but the legitimate fruit of consecutive effort, directed and controlled by good judgment and correct moral principles. He is one of the most prominent Masons of America.
Mr. Melish was born July 28, 1852, in Wilmington, Ohio. He is a son of Rev. Thomas Jefferson Melish, D.D., an Episcopal clergyman, and Maria (Bromwell) Melish. He is a grandson of John Melish, who came to Philadelphia from Paisley, Scotland, and who was the first map publisher in the United States, and also a surveyor and engraver, who was born in Perthshire, Scotland, in 1771, and whose death occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 30, 1822. Paulson's "Advertiser" contained the following sketch of him in its issue of January 1, 1823:
"Died, on Monday night, the thirtieth of December (1882), Mr. John Melish, geographer, in the fifty-second year of his age. Mr. Melish was a native of Perthshire, Scotland, but being ardently attached to the principles of liberty, he emigrated and settled in this country in the year 1809. Since that period, his labors have been eminently useful to his adopted country. His works in the sciences of geography and political economy are universally known, and their importance has been recognized by the highest characters of our country. His friends are requested to attend his funeral from his late residence, No. 209 Chestnut Street, on Thursday, January 2 (1823), at two o'clock. The members of the St. Andrews Society and the Scot's Thistle Society are requested to attend."
Appleton's "Cyclopedia of American Biography" records that "Mr. Melish came to this country in 1809, and traveled extensively over the United States and published accounts of his various journeys, with comments on his various experiences."
His works include "Travels in the United States, Including (Ocean) Passages and Travels in Great Britain and Upper Canada" (1806-1811), "A Traveller's Directory" (1815), "Description of the United States" (1818), "Necessity of Protecting Manufacturers," "Information to Emigrants" (1819), and "Statistical Views of the United States" (1822).
In addition to the above, Mr. Melish devoted considerable study to military affairs, as in 1813 he issued in Philadelphia a "Description of the Seat of War in North America, with a Map," and, in the same year, a "Military and Topographical Atlas of the United States, Including British Possessions and Florida"; also "Official Documents Relating to the Operations of the British Army Employed in the Reduction of the Canadas under Major-
General Wolfe, Amherst, and Others in the Years 1759-60, with Description of Quebec and Montreal, with Map Reduced by J. Melish."
In 1816, he issued "A Geographical Map of the United States, with Contiguous British and Spanish Possessions, to Accompany Melish's Map." A third edition of this was printed in 1818, also "A Geographical Description of the World." The title page to one of his many books, which was issued in 1819, shows that he must have been indefatigable in obtaining information for the traveling public of that day:
Directory through the United States of America, being a Complete
List of the Direct Cross Roads, together with the
Conveyance by Water throughout the Different States and Territories,
Including the Connecting Roads and Districts in Measured
Miles from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, to
Pittsburg, New Orleans, and St. Louis.
Compiled from the most authentic materials, by John Melish,
Philadelphia. Printed for J. Melish and
Geographers and Map Publishers, 1819."
In 1820, he published a letter to President Monroe "On the State of the Country," with a plan for improving the conditions of society; and in 1822, the year of his death, he issued a pamphlet entitled "Views of Political Economy from the Description of the United States, by J. M., July 4, 1822." The numerous maps, books, and pamphlets issued by Mr. Melish during the thirteen years of his residence in Philadelphia, proved that he was an untiring and ardent worker and a close student of public affairs.
On his maternal side, William B. Melish, of this sketch, is the grandson of William and Sarah Bromwell, and the great-grandson of Jacob Bromwell, who settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1819, and who was the first wire worker to locate west of the Allegheny Mountains. The wire goods business established by Jacob Bromwell has been in uninterrupted and successful operation for ninety-seven years, owned by the same family, William Bromwell Melish being the head of the corporation at the present time.
Mr. Melish was educated in the public schools of Cincinnati, and fora time attended Denison University at Granville, Ohio. His early instincts were for a business career, and he entered the employ of William Bromwell and Company in 1870. During the period of over sixty years that he has resided in Cincinnati, he has steadily forged ahead until he is now one of the leading figures in the local business world. He is president of the Bromwell Brush and Wire Goods Company; he is vice president of the Joseph R. Peebles' Sons Company, a large grocery establishment; he is one of the board of directors of the First National Bank of Cincinnati. He is vice president of the Cincinnati Chamber of
Commerce, and president of the Knights Templar and Masonic Mutual Aid Association. He is a trustee and chairman of the finance committee of the Ohio Masonic Home, with which institution he has been connected as a trustee for twenty years. He is also a member of the board of trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States.
Politically, he is a stanch Republican and lids long been active and influential in party affairs. He served for four years, with the rank of colonel, as aid-de-camp on the military staff of the late Governor Asa S. Bushnell. He was also a member of the board of trustees, commissioners of water works, during the entire work of building the present magnificent water works of Cincinnati, erected at a cost of fifteen million dollars. He is a member of the board of trustees engaged in the building of the Masonic Temple for Cincinnati, one of the new handsome structures of the city.
He is a member of the Queen City Club, the Business Men's Club, the Bankers' Club, and the Rotary Club, all of Cincinnati. He and his wife are faithful members of the Clifton Methodist Episcopal Church, and are actively interested in charitable and philanthropic work in many lines of benefactions. They have a beautiful and modernly appointed home in Clifton, one of the attractive suburbs of Cincinnati.
Mr. Melish was married on October 16, 1873, to Sallie Hiss Gatch, a lady of culture and high social standing, and the eldest daughter of Captain Frank McCormick Gatch and Selina (Barber) Gatch, of Milford, Ohio, where the family has long been prominent. The union of Mr. and Mrs. Melish has been graced by the birth of two children: Mrs. Benjamin Franklin Harris, of Champaign, Illinois; and Thomas Gatch Melish, of Cincinnati, who was married to Miss Lawson McClurg, the daughter of Calvin M. McClurg, a well-known citizen of Knoxville, Tennessee. Mr. and Mrs. Harris have four children, three sons and one daughter.
Mr. Melish is a thirty-third degree Mason of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, a rank that few men attain, and the fact that he attained it at the age of thirty-three years is sufficient evidence that he was a man of brilliant intellect, who has rendered great service to Freemasonry. He is the senior living Past Imperial Potentate of the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine in North America, not in years but in terms of service, he having presided over the Imperial Council from 1892 to 1893, and again from 1894 to 1895. He was initiated in the Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine in 1881, and in 1882 he instituted Syrian Temple of Cincinnati, and has been largely instrumental in establishing temples in various other cities throughout the Middle West. His first attendance upon the Imperial Council of North America was in I882, and he has been prominent in its councils and government ever since.
In 1892, he was elected Imperial Potentate of North America, in which capacity he presided at the annual meeting held in Cincinnati in 1893. He was reelected to serve a second term in 1894, and at the meeting of the Supreme Council, held at Nantasket Beach in 1895, he was the unanimous choice of the body to serve another term as Imperial Potentate, but declined the honor.
Colonel Melish has been chairman of the Committee on Jurisprudence and Laws of the Imperial Council for twenty years, and most of the present Constitution and Code of Statutes and Bylaws has been adopted under his direction. He is still the chairman of this most important committee of the Imperial Council.
In Freemasonry, Colonel Melish is probably the widest known member of the fraternity in the United States. He has been at the head of each of the Masonic bodies of which he is a member. He was for two years Grand Master of Masons of Ohio, and also served as Grand Commander of the Knights Templar of the same State. In 1892, at the triennial conclave of the Knights Templar, Sir Melish was appointed Grand Standard Bearer of the Grand Encampment. He served continuously in office in that leading body of Freemasonry, and is now a Past Grand Master of the Order.
Most Eminent Sir Melish is the only Grand Master of Templars of the United States who has visited the Great Priory of the Order of the Temple of England. In 1911, he was the guest of the Great Priory of England upon the invitation of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught, who is Grand Master. There he received the highest honors of English Templarism by being created a Grand Cross Templar, and he is the only man in the United States who holds that high honor.
In 1912, he paid an official visit to the Sovereign Great Priory of Canada as its guest, and he is now the official representative of that body near the Grand Encampment of the United States.
Noble Melish is an honorary member of quite a number of Temples of the Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine in America, and is an honorary member of over one hundred bodies of Freemasonry at home and abroad. This attests his great popularity among the Shriners and Freemasons.
Noble Melish is of genial disposition, is an eloquent, forceful, and witty after-dinner speaker, and much in demand as such. He is a ready debater in the affairs of the grand bodies of which he is a member, and occupies the highest and most important positions on committees.
He is a genial and companionable gentleman, a great organizer, the possessor of unusual financial and executive ability; always a profound student, he is familiar with the world's best literature, and is highly educated along all lines. Extremely charitable, he derives great pleasures in life out of helping the worthy, needy, and distressed from a sense of duty and innate human sympathy and never to win the admiring plaudits of men; for he is, withal, a plain, unassuming gentleman who is eminently deserving of the high trusts that have been reposed in him and of the great esteem in which he is universally held, his popularity being international.
Barbara's Bordered Backgrounds