Born in Clinton, New Jersey on March 24, 1853, Melick's family migrated to Marshall County, Illinois around 1859. He worked on his father's farm and pursued his education at the common school and Marshall College of Illinois.
In the spring of 1870, Melick moved to Lancaster County, Nebraska and acquired a homestead claim on Section 22, Rock Creek precinct. He lived there for ten years until he was appointed deputy sheriff under Granville Ensign in 1880. In the fall of 1883, he was elected sheriff, a position he retained for six years. In 1890 he was appointed as the chief of police of Lincoln and after a year and a half was appointed Deputy United States Marshal under Marshal Brad D. Slaughter. When Frank Graham was elected mayor, Melick once again was appointed chief of police. As a major law-enforcement figure in the city, Melick took initiative against the Lincoln male subculture of saloons, gambling halls, and commercialized sex.
When John Sheedy was attacked in January of 1891, Melick arrived with Doctor C. S. Hart at the scene of the crime and questioned Mary Sheedy about the incident. The following day Melick and Detective James Malone interrogated residents and patrons in Lincoln's demimonde in search of witnesses; their investigation led to the arrest of Monday McFarland. Once in jail, McFarland confessed (allegedly by coercion) to participating in a plot with Mary Sheedy to kill John Sheedy.
Melick was active in the Republican Party in Lancaster County and owned shares of stock in the Nebraska Stock Yards. He belonged to Masonic Lodge No. 54, was "a standard bearer of Mount Moriah Commandery No. 4," a charter member of Elks Lodge No. 80 and also belonged to the Knights of Pythias Central City Lodge No. 68. According to one source, Melick was "one of the best known citizens of Lancaster County." He earned the title of colonel by serving on the staffs of Governors Dietrich, Savage, and John H. Mickey, and was popularly known as Colonel Melick, a "public-spirited and progressive citizen."
After retiring briefly, Melick took up detective work as a representative of the Nebraska Banking Association to assist in apprehending bank robbers. In 1912, he became warden of the penitentiary, a position he held for ten months before becoming a United States mail contractor. In his later years, Melick also dealt with real estate in Lincoln.
In 1866, Melick married Moly Ogan of Washington County, Iowa; they had three children before Moly died in June of 1880. He re-married in 1883 to Kittie Langdon of Janesville, Wisconsin. Melick's sole son, Harry Hastings, was born in Lincoln on June 18, 1888 and moved to New York City to pursue a career in the theatrical business. Melick lived at 903 K Street until around 1890 when he moved into a house at 2444 P Street. As police chief he operated out of a building at 309 N. Tenth Street.
Obituary - Lincoln Star - January 22, 1923
Headline: S.M. Melick Passes Away: Former Warden of Nebraska State Penitentiary and Long a Peace Officer in Lancaster County, Dies Monday Morning
Served as Police Chief and Sheriff
Placed in Charge of Prison Following Outbreak in 1812 When Four Officials Were Killed - Was Well Known Throughout the State
Samuel M. Melick, 70, former warden of the Nebraska state penitentiary, and for many years a peace officer in Lancaster county, died at 9:30 a.m., Monday at his home at Melick Court from heart and kidney disease after an illness of a year's duration.
Mr. Melick has been confined to his bed for the last six months and only twice during that period was he able to leave his home.
Mr. Melick had served for several years as chief of police of this city and six years as sheriff of Lancaster County. He spent several years as detective for the Nebraska Bankers' association and apprehended a number of notorious bank robbers. Mr. Melick had also served as deputy United States Marshall.
In the spring of 1890, he settled on a homestead claim in Lancaster County in Rock Creek precinct, where he lived until he was appointed deputy sheriff under Granville Ensign and filled that position from 1880 until the fall of 1883, when he was elected to the office of sheriff, which he held through reelection for six years. Mr. Melick retired from that office in 1890 and was appointed chief of police of Lincoln. He was appointed deputy United States marshal under Marshal Brad D. Slaughter and served the governor until Mayor Frank Graham was elected when he was again appointed chief of police. Mr. Melick later took up detective work as a representative of the Nebraska Banking association to aid in apprehending bank robbers.
It was while he was engaged in detective work in 1912, that the outbreak in the state penitentiary occurred and Warden James Delahunty, two deputy wardens and one usher were killed by the prisoners. The militia was placed in charge and Mr. Melick was made warden of the state penitentiary. Under his control affairs were placed on safe and normal basts. He held that position for ten months.
Mr. Melick had made investments from time to time in real estate in Lincoln and had large property holdings in the city at the time of his death.
Active In Community Affairs
He was prominent in Masonic circles in which he had attained high rank. He was a standard bearer of Mount Moriah, Commandery no. 4 for fourteen years. He was also a charter member of Elks lodge, No. 80. of Lincoln. He had the social qualities and the sterling traits of character which win friendship and regard. In many ways he had been connected with public life of the community and his attitude had always been that of a public-spirited progressive citizen. He served on the staffs of Governors Dietrich, Savage and John H. Mickey.
Samuel Miller Melick was born in Clinton, Hunterdon County, N.J., March 24, 1853, a son of Peter and Jarre Maria (Miller) Melick. He was a lad of eight years when his family removed to Illinois, where he acquired a common school education and later attended Marshall College of Illinois. His practical training was received in farm work under his father.
The marriage of Mr. Melick to Miss Kittie Langdon, of Lincoln, occurred December 29, 1883. Besides his wife he is survived by two daughters miss Minnie Melick and Mrs. Mae McCandless of California, who left Sunday for Lincoln on account of the serious illness of their father. His son, Harry H. Melick, was killed during the war.
The body is being held at the home pending the funeral.
Melick's body is buried in Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska along with his wife Kittie, and son, Harry.