Colton was born the son of Isaac W. Colton and Abigail Douty in Monson, ME on July 17, 1831. His family went West when he
was 5, and finally endedup in Galesburg, IL. At 17 he began teaching in the neighboring town of Berlin. By 1850 Colton was
engaged to Ellen M. White. Their betrothal was contingent upon him finding wealth and success in California, and he moved
to Sacramento in July. His mining career was cut short when he nearly died of typhoid fever. He retired to San Francisco and
by the winter of 1850 he had sailed to Portland, OR. There he failed at both teaching school and practising law. In the spring
of 1851 he joined a prospecting party at Shasta Butte. He nearly died again, this time at the hands of a Klamath Indian tribe
lead by "Chinook Chief". After he successfully fought off the attacks he was elected Sheriff and soon after married Ellen.
After a heated battle with the local citizenry over lynching regulations he was promoted to Brigadier-General of Militia.
In 1857 he ran an unsuccessful campaign for Democratic State Senator of California, but by 1859 he graduated from law school.
He lived in Colton House on one of the hilly sides of California Street.