William Osterton

By Rick Hendricks

William Osterton was born in Oldenburg in Lower Saxony around 1834. By 1857 he was living in Baltimore, Maryland. On 7 March 1860, Osterton became a naturalized citizen and on 30 June the US census for Santa Fe, New Mexico, listed him as a bookkeeper. He worked for the merchant firm of Johnson and Wethered. He was also territorial treasurer and John Greiner's clerk in the office of the US Depository. At some point, Osterton also performed military service for his adopted country, serving in the US Volunteers.

On the morning of 23 November 1863, the people of Santa Fe learned of Osterton's shocking death. The previous morning he had breakfasted at the table of Bishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy. He borded at the bishop's lodging along with General Carlton, Surveyor General Clark, Chief Justice Kirby Benedict, and several other gentlemen. Osterton had a room inside the bishop's placita where he slept.

Osterton did not join the others for breakfast on the 23rd. A servant found his room locked and no sound emanating from within. After gaining entry through a window, Osterton was discovered dead in his bed, apparently having died in his sleep. Dr. Bryan, the US surgeon and his assistant surgeon, Seeley of the US Army carried out a post mortem. In their opinion, Osterton died from pulmonary apoplexy. Osterton's was frail, and he often spoke of a presentment that he would not enjoy a long life. He was of slight build and unsteady, but his sudden death was nonetheless unexpected.

Osterton was the secretary of Montezuma Lodge No. 109, and his Masonic brothers took charge of his funeral arrangements. Following a procession to the Masonic cemetery accompanied by a military band and many local citizens, Osterton's remains were laid to rest.