DEATH OF WALTER MURRAY
From the weekly San Luis Obispo Tribune's issues of 9 and 16 October 1875, it appears that Walter died in a San Luis Obispo hotel of "gastritis". A news report on page 4 of the October 9th 1875 issue of the Tribune runs as follows:
The first attack of the fatal disease that removed our friend occurred
in our office [i.e., the Tribune], somewhere about the 20th of May. Under the
treatment of his medical adviser, he rallied sufficiently to attend to the
duties of his office, although never regaining the full measure of his health.
He sufferent from several relapses, but never going back to the low state of
the first. When he departed for San Buenaventura and Santa Barbara, to
hold court, he was far from well, and his physician strongly advised rest
and medical treatment; but relying upon a strong constitution and an
indomitable will, he would listen to no voice but that of duty. His disease
was gastritis, of the most aggravated form. In Santa Barbara, during the
celebrated Norton murder trial he was prostrated and confined to his bed
for several days, but rallied sufficiently to carry through the second trial,
after which he returned to San Luis Obispo, exhaused and worn out by
disease and labor. On Tuesday, Sept. 21st, while sitting in the office
of Judge Venable, transacting some business with the judge and Mr.
Henderson, he was taken with a violent chill, and was immediately
removed to the Cosmopolitan [Hotel], where he remained until death ended
See also the details in the letter from his widow Mercedes to Anne Evans of 19 Feb 1876.
The following published obituary is probably the one mentioned by the widow Mercedes in her letters:
OBITUARY OF HON. WALTER MURRAY
The Angel of Death has again visited our people, and robbed them of a wise officer, a good citizen, and a true friend. Just two years ago, Pablo de la Guerra, judge of the. First Judicial District was called to a untimely grave. Yesterday the last solemn rites were performed over the remains of his worthy and well-beloved successor, Walter Murray. Providence has indeed been severe in this chastening of us.
Walter Murray, whom we now mourn, was born in London, England, in the year 1826, but came to the United States at an early age. Previous to seeking his fortune in a new world, he received a three years' training - from the age of thirteen to sixteen - in the chambers of an eminent London barrister. In the atmosphere of those inns of court his mind was imbued with a spirit of conservatism that had its controlling influence upon all his acts and words in life.
Upon his arrival in the United States, having a taste and talent for newspaper writing, he devoted himself to acquiring a practical knowledge of the printer's trade, with the view of becoming an editor. His first experience was in Boston, where, while acting as compositor in one of the large newspaper offices, he published a small journal, entitled the Mechanics' Apprentice, a copy of which is in possession of a citizen of this county.
Promoted by a love of the country of his adoption, as well as for the laudable ambition to make for himself a name and fortune, and animated by a restless spirit of adventure, at the outbreak of the Mexican War, he was eager to be found in the ranks, fighting under the stars and stripes. He joined the celebrated Stevenson Regiment, which was organized to occupy and hold possession of California, and accompanied it in 1846 to the scene of its operations.
He made a faithful and a good soldier. Upon the disbandment of the regiment in 1848 he drifted, with many of his companions, to the mines of the Sierra Nevada; but soon abandoned the uncertain search of the glittering metal, for the pursuit he best loved, and for which he was best fitted.
In 1851, he with J. O'Sullivan, established in the town of Sonora the first paper printed in Tuolumne County. [The paper was established before Murray & O'Sullivan's connection with it.--M. A.] In 1853 he came to San Luis Obispo, where he was admitted to the Bar, and has since resided, pursuing the practice of the profession of the law. He was also, for many years, connected with the San Luis Obispo Tribune, of which journal he was the founder, and by the power of his vigorous pen, he made the best country newspaper in California.
Having held many offices of trust in the county, in December, 1873, he was appointed by Gov. Booth District Judge of the First Judicial District, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Pablo de la Guerra, which position he occupied at the time of his death.
Walter Murray was a man of strong convictions, fixed principles, and great independence of character. He was nothing of the time server. In politics he was a Republican, and a consistent one, and in the advocacy and defense of his principles, showing neither fear nor favor. Although determined in his opinions, he was never a radical, but had respect for the honest convictions of all.
His journal, the medium of expression of his views upon social and political matters, was noted for its conservatism as well as force. As an aspirant for office he was dignified and gentlemanly, never allowing himself in the most heated campaigns to be led into the use of any of the low weapons of political warfare.
As a friend, he was ardent, unflinching, and untiring; as an enemy, bitter but never mean. As a lawyer he was faithful to his clients, and preeminently courteous to the members of the Bar. As a Judge, his unselfishness and independence displayed themselves to great advantage in his total disregard of consequences to self in the rendition of his decisions. In the profession and on the Bench he was industrious, painstaking, and conscientious.
At the close of his life few men in the district were more popular than Walter Murray. His last hours were blessed by the companionship of devoted friends and comrades of his camp life, and no less warm friends of later years, who cheered him with their gentle and hopeful words, and with tender hands ministered to his every want. While these men last, his presence will be with us, his memory remain green until their hearts cease to beat.
Hon. James O'Sullivan, who had been the companion in arms with Murray, and associated with him in mining and journalism, contributed the following to the memory of his friend:
TRIBUTE BY JAMES O'SULLIVAN
The death of Hon. Walter Murray, Judge of the First Judicial District Court, in San Luis Obispo, on the 5th inst., calls for more than a mere passing notice.
Judge Murray was a pioneer Californian, having come here from New York in 1847, with Stevensons' Regiment. A native of London, England, he emigrated to the United States when quite young. In Boston he served apprenticeship to the printing trade, and at the age of fifteen was editor of an apprentices' paper, which he filled with marked ability. His fine intellect and native talent were improved by a good early education, and he was a man who would have made his mark anywhere.
After having worked at mining for two years, he was associated with the writer of this in 1851 and '52 in the proprietorship of the Sonora Herald, and he edited and conducted the paper brilliantly and successfully. In 1853 he moved to San Luis Obispo, where he has remained ever since. In the legislative session of 1858 he represented San Luis Obispo in the Assembly and made a creditable record there. The Sacramento Union (high authority) said he made the most logical speech uttered in either house during the session. He has been frequently honored by the people of his county, having been District Attorney and Treasurer, and finally on the occurrence of a vacancy, he was appointed District Judge by Governor Booth.
Having been intimately associated with Judge Murray from the time he left New York, in 1846, until 1853, and thoroughly knowing his sterling qualities as a man, his fine abilities and his goodness of heart, I trust I may be allowed to pay this tribute to his memory.