William B. Melish was born in Wilmington, Ohio, on July 28, 1852. His father, Reverend Thomas Melish, was for many years Rector of St. Phillips Protestant Episcopal Church in Cincinnati. He was educated in the public schools of Cincinnati and at Denison University, Granville, Ohio. He then entered the employ of the Bromwell Brush and Wire Goods Company as a clerk, and rose through various positions until he was made a partner. He eventually became the president of the company and its largest stockholder
On September 16, 1873 he married Miss Sally Gatch of Milford. A son and a daughter were born to them. Sir Knight Melish was a zealous Church worker and president of several benevolent associations. He served on the staff of the Governor of Ohio with the rank of Colonel. He died in Cincinnati on October 21, 1927, on the fifty-fourth anniversary of his being made a Master Mason.
Melish was made a Master Mason in Milford Lodge No. 54 on October 21, 1873, at Milford, Ohio. He affiliated with Lafayette Lodge No. 61 of Cincinnati on November 6, 1881, and served as Worshipful Master in 1886. He was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ohio in 1895.
He was exalted in Milford Chapter No. 35 at Milford, Ohio, and later affiliated with Willis Chapter No. 131 in Cincinnati, holding the office of High Priest in 1886.
He was greeted in Kilwinning Council (now Cincinnati Council) No. 52 in 1877 and was elected Thrice Illustrious Master in 1882.
He was prominent in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and held various offices in the bodies sitting in the Valley of Cincinnati. He was made a 321 Mason in Ohio Consistory on May 30, 1874, and crowned a Sovereign Grand Inspector General 331 at Boston on September 16, 1885. In 1895 he was made Commander-in-Chief of the Ohio Consistory. He was a member of Syrian Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, at Cincinnati, Ohio, and served as its Potentate until he resigned to become Imperial Potentate. He was also a member of the Royal Order of Scotland.
He was knighted in Hanselmann Commandery No. 16 in Cincinnati on June 15, 1877, and was elected Eminent Commander in 1883. In 1887 he became a charter member of Trinity Commandery No. 44 of Cincinnati, Ohio. He was elected Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Ohio in 1890. At the Conclave of the Grand Encampment in 1892 he was appointed Grand Standard Bearer, and in 1910 was elected Grand Master.
In 1911 he visited the Great Priory of England, and received the Grand Cross Templar from the Duke of Connaught. He had the distinction of being the only one in the United States to receive that high honor.
During World War I he served as Executive Manager of the Masonic War Relief Association, organized to care for the widows and orphans of Masons who fell in battle and to maintain orphanages in the allied countries.
Reference: From Dr. Francis J. Scully's...History of the Grand Encampment, Chapter XXIII, Biographies Of The Grand Masters, as published in the Knight Templar Magazine