Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Obituary

Walter Colton

The Farmers' Cabinet
Philadelphia, PA
January 30, 1851

Death of Walter Colton. It is our painful duty this morning to record the death of the Rev. Walter Colton, of the United States Navy, who expired at 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon at his residence in this city. Mr Colton was in 1841 and 42, connected with the old North American as its principal editor; and we have therefore to lament the loss of one having claims upon us as a predecessor, as well as those stronger claims which attach to us in common with all his acquaintances and friends. He was a man of much talent and great worth, which he exhibited in various stations, private and public.

His professional career as a chaplin in the navy endeared him an opportunity of usefulness which he was careful to improve. Called by an exigency of war from his peaceful position to the responsilbe post of alcalde or chief civil magistrate of Monterey in California, he displayed administrative abilities of a high order, and performed his several functions of Judge and Governor with energy, fidelity and tact, which won for him the regard of a conquered people and deserved the approbation of his country. His late volume on California, describing in a genial spirit his residence, labors and travels in the land of gold - and his 'Ship and Shore,' and other literary publications, all evincive of talent and a peculiar gay and blithesome humor, with a certain satirical turn, will long give him an additional claim upon the public recollection.

It was during his administration of affairs at Monterey that the discovery of gold in the Sacramento valley was first made ; and considering the vast importance which this discovery has since assumed, it may not be uninteresting to state that the honor of first making it publicly known in the States, whether by accident or otherwise, belongs to him. It was first announced in a letter written by him, and bearing his initials, which appeared in his journal ; and a letter printed in a New York paper making the same announcement the next day, we believe, was also from his pen. That however, was his fortune. The higher honor belongs to him of having been a faithful officer, a good citizen, a kind hearted man, and a devoted, unostentatious Christian. [Philadelphia American.]