Lot 67 of 522:
Important early issue of California 1st newspaper  

Click image to enlarge
Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$3,000
$5,000 - $8,000



Monterey, CA

Colton & Semple

Saturday, September 17 [sic], 1846


Vol. I, No. 6. 4 pp. In two columns, on single folded sheet; printed so that the fold is at the right. 31.8x21.5 cm (12½x8½").

Rare and highly significant issue of California's first newspaper, published by Monterey Alcalde Walter Colton and his friend Robert B. Semple, printed on the well-used Ramage printing press that Agustín V. Zamorano brought from Hawaii to Monterey in 1834. Printed just over a month after the first issue came out on August 15, 1846, this number, which came out on September 19 though dated September 17 on the first page, is of notable historic import. The issue contains significant early notice of the war between the United States and Mexico, declared the preceding May, including actions in California. More significant, however, are the two pages devoted to the encroachment of the Walla Walla Indians on Northern California. The article consists of the report of the Indian Sub-Agent Elijah White to the Secretary of State dated April 4, 1845, with a lengthy account of the murder of Elijah Hedding, a.k.a. Toayahnu, and also a letter from John A. Sutter to the Thomas O. Larkin, U.S. Consul to Mexican Alta California, dated July 21st, 1845. 

Toayahnu, educated at the Methodist Mission and christened Elijah Hedding, was the oldest son of Yellow Serpent, the chief of the Walla Wall tribe. In the fall of 1844 an expedition was organized by Yellow Serpent and his son, consisting of around 40 adult males in addition to numerous women and children. Prominent members included Yellow Bird, Elijah Hedding, Young Chief, and Spokane Garry, along with other Nez Perce and Spokane headmen. The goal of the expedition was to reach New Helvetia (Sacramento), and to establish contact with Californians in order to trade for cattle. John Sutter welcomed the expedition to his colony, having become acquainted with Yellow Serpent. In his letter, Elijah White writes that the expedition proceeded very smoothly, without any conflicts. the Indian party was invited to the Sutter house were Elijah Hedding was cruelly killed “while there in an unarmed and defenseless condition, “ as the result of an altercation that arose with Sutter’s employee Grove Cook regarding horses the Indians bought the previous day. This occurred at the beginning of 1845.
In his letter Elijah White relates that the Oregon missionary Dr. Whitman, who resided with the Walla Walla Indians, warned him that the Walla Walla and four other tribes planned to raise two thousand warriors for march to California for revenge. Elijah White statest that he was hoping to stop, or at least postpone, this attack. “l wrote through Ellis [the Nez Perce leader] a long and rather sympathizing letter to the chiefs of these tribes assuring them that I should at once write to the Governor of California, to Capt. Sutter and the President of the U. S. respecting this matter… I invited the chief to come down this fall to confer with me on this subject… I likewise wrote them that on condition they would defer going to California until the spring of '47, and assist me in getting a manual labour literary institution for the English education of their sons and daughters, a subject they feel the deepest interest in… I would, of my own private funds, give, to be equally distributed among them, five hundred dollars, to assist them in buying young cows in California, and in the mean time do everything in my power to get the unhappy affair adjusted. I likewise proffered, (as they are so eager for it,) to start the English school next fall, by giving them the services of Mr. Lee, my interpreter…” 
Much different in tone is the letter from John Sutter, who tried to depict the young chief Elijah Hedding as “ … the terror of the old chiefs, he had the whole rule over them, and no doubt he would have become a great tyrant among his people," who killed a  few of his own people during this expedition. He mentioned that “Dr. White says that Elijah was by no means viciously inclined, but we believe here all, that Elijah was a great rascal.”
After the murder of his son, Yellow Serpent planned his California invasion. In mid-1846, amid the chaos of the America conquest, rumors swept Northern California that thousands of Oregon’s outraged Indians were preparing to invade. The present issud of Californian. for September 19, 1846, contains the first publication of the details of this cruel and consequential murder, devoting nearly half of the issue to the matter 
In addition to the publications of the letters by White and Sutter, relating the events, the newspaper contains rather surprising editorial on the affair. Written at a time of possible Indian invasion, the editorial is unexpectedly moderate in tone, calling for peaceful resolution, and warning the California governor to avoid “wanton cruelty, by any officer or private under his command." It reads in part:
“No nation can pursue its path to prosperity and peace through crime. There should be no departure here, from that spirit of forbearance which has characterized the policy of the United Sates towards her Indian tribes. Any such departure will be visited with the rebukes of the whole American people. We entirely mistake the principles of the present Governor General of California if he will sanction any act of wanton cruelty, by any officer or private under his command. We know he will not.” 
Historical accounts of these incidents refer to this issue of the Californian as a key primary source.
Despite his later denials, Yellow Serpent probably intended to kill Grove Cook to avenge the murder of his son. His band’s actions, however, were by and large peaceful. Whatever the plan, the Walla Walla caused panic when they arrived in California. All available forces were moved up the valley to support Fort Helvetia (Sacramento). Commodore Stockton prepared the troops, and General Mariano Vallejo immediately offered his service if needed. Every man of the North Bay was ready for the march. By mid-October, however, the Californian finally reported that  “bloody rumor about the Walla Walla Indians had been very much exaggerated: the invading horde dwindled to forty on a peaceful trading expedition!”
Yellow Serpent returned to California with 40 warriors and declared peaceable intention. Instead of arriving to fight, he wished to establish cordial relations. Ten Walla Walla men were recruited into the California Battalion as scouts. They would fight with distinction at the Battle of Natividad against the forces of Jose Castro; the remainder of the expedition remained in the Sacramento Valley. Records kept by Sutter's officers note interactions with Yellow Serpent until July 1847. He was given compensation for previous grievances, the primary one being his son's death. After this the expedition "left contented and started homeward." The number of cattle purchased by the Walla Walla in the expedition was close to two thousand.
Accompanied by two works on the subject:
So Rugged and Mountainous: Blazing the Trails to Oregon and California, 1812–1848 (Overland West Series), by Will Bagley , First Edition  
Acquisition of Oregon: And the Long Suppressed Evidence about Marcus Whitman; Volume 2, by William Isaac Marsha

Lot Amendments

Some wear at old folds with a few neat repairs, top corner of first leaf with 1x½" triangle missing not affecting any text; very good.

Item number:
Shipping info:

We have a full service shipping department to ensure proper packing and safe delivery of purchases at reasonable cost. We are specialists at packing and shipping books and works on paper.   All lots purchased by the same client are combined for shipping in order to keep the cost as economical as possible.  Our preferred method for domestic shipments is UPS Ground but we can also ship via FedEx or USPS Priority Mail. We do NOT ship USPS Media Mail under any circumstances.For international orders we select the most appropriate carrier depending on the value and weight of the items purchased.  We are happy to accommodate special arrangements by request.

Invoices are sent out the day following the auction and include a minimum $10 handling fee plus actual shipping and insurance charges.

Shipping estimates can be obtained  by contacting [email protected] prior to the auction.


Terms and conditions


All accepted bids are contracts and are considered final and non withdrawable.


A buyer's premium of 20% will be applied to all purchases.


The person posting the bids online has to be the person who has registered for the auction.