Richard D. Gholson was Washington’s 3rd Territorial Governor serving from July 1859 to sometime in 1861, though he reportedly returned to his home state of Kentucky on a six month leave of absence in May 1860, never to return to Washington.
Though he was only in Washington for 11 months, two important events did occur – the “Pig War” of 1859 on San Juan Island and the capture of the schooners Ellen Maria and Blue Wing by northern Indians.
Not much is know about this short-term Governor but the Washington State Library has several items in their Digital Collection that give some insight to his time in office.
Edmond S. Meany’s Governors of Washington, Territorial and State has a brief biographical article about Governor Gholson. Also in the collection are various correspondence from or to Gholson in Message of the President …in reference to the island of San Juan … and Washington State Library’s collection of Richard D. Gholson’s correspondence.
If you would like to know more about the “Pig War”, see Letter from the Secretary of State, transmitting a report relative to the occupation of the Island of San Juan in our Classics in Washington History .
There is a little bit of information about the capture of the Ellen Maria and Blue Wing and its aftermath in Lewis and Dryden’s marine history of the Pacific Northwest on page 90 (image 113) and in The Puget Sound Herald, Steilacoom, W.T., March 18, 1859 (page 2, column 2 – Missing) , July 27, 1860 (page 2, column 5 – The Fate of Mr. Schroter), Aug. 3, 1860 (page 2, column 4 – The Blue Wing and Ellen Maria).