To read about other prolific 

Psi Phi chapter 

brothers, click here.




March 27, 1845 - May 2, 1911

Melville Hopewell was born March 27, 1845, in Monroe County, Indiana, the son of Benjamin C. and Sarah Reeves Hopewell. In 1851, he moved with his parents to Collin County, Texas, where his mother died in 1854, when Melville was nine.  In 1855, the family returned to Indiana, Benjamin married Caroline Heaps on August 2, and later that year the family moved to Kansas.  The following year, 1856, the family moved to Gentry County, Missouri, where Benjamin engaged in farming and Melville attended the district school during the winter.

In 1863, Melville enlisted in Co. G, 3d Missouri Mounted Militia, organized under the leadership of the notorious Bill Davidson, to suppress marauding bands of bushwhackers and robbers that infested the state. He served with his regiment until the spring of 1864, when it was disbanded.  Melville was 19. 

Following this service, he made several trips as a roustabout on the steamboat, "Denver," then plying between St. Joseph and Omaha. Also in 1864, he hired out to a government freight transportation company and became, in the parlance of the times, a "bull whacker," driving six yoke of cattle, pulling six thousand pounds of government stores in heavy wagons from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to Fort Laramie, Wyoming, a distance of more than 1000 miles. This was before the Union Pacific railroad was built, when the present states of Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado were a vast prairie.  He clearly liked what he saw in Nebraska.  

Returning from this trip in the fall of 1864, he entered Indiana Asbury University for what was a five-year college career due to his additional studies in law.  During his third year, he was one of the 12 men who founded the Psi Phi chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon. Throughout his life, “founding” was a theme.  Melville clearly was an organizer, as he later founded a newspaper and a bank.

He graduated from Indiana Asbury in 1869 and was admitted to practice law in Indiana. In the fall of 1870, he moved to Tekamah, Nebraska, and began teaching school.  Tekamah was, and is, the Burt County seat. Being situated on the Omaha & Northern Nebraska Railway, Tekamah had fine commercial advantages, and it was the chief shipping point and business center of the county. Elevators, warehouses and stock yards facilitated extensive shipments of grain and stock. In the fall of 1872, Melville, with W. B. White, established the “Weekly Burtonian” newspaper.

In 1873, Melville founded the first Burt County bank, called the “Exchange Bank.”  His younger brother, Henry, joined him at the bank in 1875, and the bank went through a series of names--Hopewell, Latta & Co. and Hopewell, Harrington & Co.—before Melville withdrew his interest in September, 1892.  The bank then was incorporated and organized into a State Bank, known as the "Burt County State Bank"

A year after founding the bank, Melville married Hattie E. Nelson, a native of Tekamah, on October 2, 1874.  He was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1875 and from then to 1887 he gave his full attention to his law, real estate and banking interests. 

In 1887 he was appointed by Nebraska Governor Thayer as district judge, a position to which he was repeatedly elected until 1896 when he retired from the bench and returned to his law practice, with his son, W.M. Hopewell, and the management of his “large land interests.”  

In 1907, Melville returned to public life when he was elected Nebraska‘s Lieutenant Governor, on the Republican ticket.  He was re-elected in 1909 and in 1911.  Melville died in office on May 2, 1911. 



Delta Pi of ΔKE ~ Illinois    ~    Delta Psi of ΔKE ~ Indiana   ~    Psi Phi of ΔKE ~ DePauw


Post Office Box 813     Greencastle,  Indiana  46135