Biography of Edward Power Colgan

Edward Power Colgan
Edward Power Colgan

Edward Power Colgan, now serving for the fourth term as state controller of California, has been almost continuously in the public service since 1887, and over the record of his public career there falls no shadow of wrong, absolute fidelity and capability characterizing his office acts and making him sell worthy of the regard and trust reposed in him.

Mr. Colgan has always resided in California. His birth occurred at Santa Rosa, Sonoma county, California, January 10, 1856, and he is the eldest of six sons born to Edward Power and Elizabeth (Staib) Colgan, the former a native of New York and the latter of Germany. One daughter was also born to the parents. The father came to the pacific coast in 1849 and his wife arrived the following year. He settled first at San Francisco, where he was engaged in the restaurant business until 1853, when he removed to Santa Rosa, Sonoma county, where he became proprietor of a hotel, conducting it with success up to the time of his death in 1878.

It was in the public schools of his native city that Edward Power Colgan gained the knowledge which fitted him for life’s practical duties. He continued his studies until seventeen years of age and was then apprenticed to learn the blacksmith’s trade. After the completion of his term he began work on his own account, and continued in the business until 1887, when because of his recognized fitness and capability he was called to public office by his fellow townsmen. At the election held in the fall of the previous year he was chosen sheriff of Sonoma county for a term of two years and in 1888 was re-elected. Ere the expiration of his second term higher honors were conferred upon him, he receiving the nomination of his party for state controller. For four successive terms has he been chosen by popular suffrage for that position, and his term will complete an incumbency of sixteen years. It would be almost tautological in this connection to enter into any series of statements indicating his popularity and the confidence reposed in him, for these have been shadowed forth between the lines of this review. His fidelity to the trust reposed in him stands as an unquestioned fact in his career, and there is no man in the public service more loyal to the general interests of the state and to the specific duties of his office than is Mr. Colgan, the present controller of California.

In 1880 Mr. Colgan was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Smith, a daughter of John K. and Theresa M. Smith, who became residents of the state during the pioneer period of its history. Five children have been born of this union, of whom four are still living, Edward Power, Jr., having departed this life. The others are Edlo May, Evelyn, Ralph Waite and Helen B.

Mr. Colgan holds membership relations with various fraternities, belonging to the Masons, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and its encampment, the Native Sons of the Golden West, the Knights of Pythias, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. He has a wide acquaintance among the prominent men of the state and enjoys in high measure their regard and good will. He has risen to prominence not because of adventitious circumstances or the influence of those high in authority but through the inherent force of his own character, through the development of his latent powers and because of his faithfulness to every trust. The road to public honor is that of public usefulness, and the humblest in the land are not barred out from the most lofty position except by their own incapacity or lack of laudable ambition. In the discharge of his official duties, Mr. Colgan is most systematic, conducting the affairs of the office with the same regularity and care that he would a private business enterprise, and he has therefore received the commendation of not only the people of his own party, the Republican, but also of the opposition as well.

Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.

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