Melvin J. Stinchfield, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Melvin J. Stinchfield

MELVIN J. STINCHFIELD. It was truthfully said when Emerson, the great essayist and philosopher, wrote that the true history of a nation or state is recited in the lives of the leading citizens, and in this volume, through the biographies of the men who have been helmsmen of affairs in the various lines of activity, will be presented a trustworthy history of the city of Valparaiso and of Porter county. Melvin J. Stinchfield, the present postmaster of Valparaiso, whose name introduces this review, has been associated with the business interests of this county, as well as of the city of Valparaiso, for years and is well known as a judicious and energetic business man and an able official of the highest standing and integrity, one whose life and accomplishments well entitle him to representation in the Twentieth Century History of Porter county, Indiana.

He comes of an old New England family of English origin, the original progenitors of the Stinchfield family in this country having been immigrants from England. In the state of Maine, on December 21, 1855, Melvin J. Stinchfield was born to his parents, David L. and Rapsma (Herrick) Stinchfield, the sixth in a family of eight children, four sons and four daughters, three of whom are yet living, namely: Charles H., now a resident of California; Melvin J., of this sketch; and Lottie, the youngest of the family and now the wife of Frank Palmer, an undertaker at East Corinth, Maine. The father, Daniel L. Stinchfield, was also a native of Maine, where he was born in 1820. His whole career was given to the pursuit of agriculture, and in 1862 he removed with his family to Elgin, Illinois, where he died on January 1, 1863, a short time after his arrival. The mother was born in Maine, on July 4, 1825, and passed away October 15, 1911, in advanced years, her demise having occurred at her son's residence in Valparaiso.

Mr. Stinchfield was but a lad of seven years when his parents removed to Illinois, and a few years after his father's death he accompanied the family to Lake county, Indiana, near Crown Point, where they resided three years, removing from thence in the spring of 1870 to Hebron, Porter county, Indiana, which place Mr. Stinchfield still calls home. He received no other education than the ordinary common schools of the period afforded, and the substantial abilities he has evinced during his business and public life have been almost wholly the offspring of his own exertions and the gleanings of a close and careful observer. He began his life in a business way at the age of nineteen as a telegrapher for the Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad, his first station having been Lacrosse, Indiana, which was assigned to him in 1875 and where he remained three years. For a short time afterward he was successively stationed at different points, but in 1879 he was placed in charge of the office at Hebron and was there engaged in his profession until 1882. After seven years as a telegrapher he resigned his position to become a partner of James E. Bryant and Merritt Cornell in the buying and selling of grain and hay. He continued in this business until 1894, in which year he was elected county auditor of Porter county, an office he continuously filled for eight years. In 1903, at the close of that official service, he entered into partnership with W. C. De Motte in the furniture and undertaking business at Valparaiso and still remains a stockholder in the firm. At that time, in order to be fully prepared for the business, he took a complete course in the Barnes School of Embalming, Chicago, Illinois. He is well known as a man of honorable business methods, as honesty of purpose has been the keynote of his success all these years, and his long residence within the county and in Valparaiso has given him the prestige and high standing he so well merits.

On May 16, 1878, Mr. Stinchfield wedded Miss Phoebe Fehrman, and to their union have been born five children, all of whom are living. Guy F., the eldest, who was educated in the Valparaiso high school and at Indiana University, Bloomington, was deputy auditor of Porter county under his father and served in that office six years; he was then elected county surveyor and city engineer of Valparaiso, of which offices he is the present incumbent. He was united in marriage to Miss Bertha Zimmerman, and to them have been born three children, Phyllis, Charles and Kathleen. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Masonic order and the Independent Order of Foresters and his wife is a member of the Order of the Eastern Star. They reside in Valparaiso and are members of the Christian church. Bess O. and Caroline, the two daughters of our subject, are both graduates of the Valparaiso high school and are now teachers in the Center school of that city. Charles H., the second son, is a resident of Chicago, where he is in the employ of the Illinois Steel Company as a foreman. He was educated in the Valparaiso schools and wedded Miss Anna Dickson. They have two children -- Margaret and Melvin. He is a member of the Independent Order of Foresters. Melvin J. Jr., the youngest son, graduated from the Valparaiso high school in the class of 1910 and is now a student in the University of Valparaiso, where he is giving especial attention to his favorite study -- mathematics. Mr. and Mrs. Stinchfield have provided those educational advantages and by precept and example have encouraged those traits of character by which their children are fitted to occupy positions requiring ability, honor and trust, and as parents they have been rewarded in their efforts by seeing each of their children take a useful place in society. Mrs. Stinchfield was born in Porter county, Indiana, January 10, 1857, and is a daughter of Christian and Wilhelmina Fehrman, the former of whom is deceased but the latter of whom is still living. Mrs. Stinchfield has done her part nobly in the rearing of her children, in the establishment of their happy home and as a true helpmeet to her husband.

Mr. Stinchfield is a staunch Republican, and from the time of casting his first presidential franchise for Rutherford B. Hayes he has supported the men and principles of his party. He has been elected a number of times as a delegate to the different Republican conventions, county, district and state, to represent his party's interests in Porter county, and in 1902 he was chairman of the Porter county Republican central committee. When a resident of Boone township he served as trustee four years, during which time he raised the schools to a standard grade and took an active part in having the Hebron schools graded. Since his residence in Valparaiso he has served six years as a school trustee, and at the present time he is secretary of the Valparaiso Home Water Company.

Under President Taft he received his appointment as postmaster of the city of Valparaiso. This office is one of the leading offices of its class in the state, as there are seven city carriers and eight rural deliveries. His assistant is Benjamin F. Smith, who has been connected with the office continuously for twenty years. Mr. Stinchfield is a progressive and energetic man both in business and in official life, and in public service has ever discharged his duties in a manner alike honorable to himself and satisfactory to those whom he served.

Fraternally Mr. Stinchfield is a member of Hebron Lodge, No. 502, Free and Accepted Masons, of Valparaiso Chapter, No. 79, Royal Arch Masons, and of Commandery No. 28, Knights Templars. He is also a member of Lodge No. 56, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, at Valparaiso, and of the Knights of Pythias and the Independent Order of Foresters. He has "passed all the chairs" of both the Masonic order and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and has been a delegate to the Grand Lodges of both orders. Mrs. Stinchfield is a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and for a number of years was secretary of the Valparaiso chapter of that order. Both Mr. and Mrs. Stinchfield are members of the Christian church. They reside on Franklin avenue, Valparaiso, in one of the modern residences of the city, where is dispensed a most cordial hospitality to their many friends.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 497-500

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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