Cemetery records indicate Robert committed suicide
Seated in Rocker in Room at
Metropole Hotel Placed
Revolver to Head and
ILL HEALTH THE CAUSE
OF TAKING HIS OWN LIFE
WAS ON OF THE FOUNDERS OF
DANVILLE'S OLDEST PAPER
PLANNED DEATH FOR DAYS
Col. Holton came to the hotel Tuesday morning about 7:30 o'clock. He asked for a room, explaining that he was suffering from a terrible attack of indigestion and that he desired to starve it out. He left his room but three times during the period from Tuesday morning to Thursday noon. Once was to get some water and the other time was for a cup of coffee. Thursday morning he complained that he was suffering intensely, his pain being almost unbearable. Just at noon the sound of a shot was heard. Guy Sheets, clerk at the hotel, investigated. He smelled powder smoke. Peering through a keyhole, he saw Col. Holton [slumped] over with the revolver clasped tightly in his hand, which still lay across his lap the police were notified, as was also the corner.
Chief Walker forced open the door, which was locked. By the rear window of the room, which overlooks the plant of the Commercial-News, the outgrowth of the paper Col. Holton started. Lay the man in his chair. Through the right ear was a bullet hole, extending into the brain.
All about the wound and extending into the hair were powder burns. Both hands were powder burned, indicating that he had held the revolver in both hands. In a drawer of the dressing table in the room was found a box of shells, purchased Wednesday morning, and from which had been taken just sufficient cartridges to load the revolver. Corner Cole also found a receipt from the Metropolitan Insurance Company, showing that the policy of the deceased was in force until February 24, when it expires. After summoning a jury to view the body, the remains were removed to the undertaking establishment of Turner & Gilmore, just below the hotel and arrangements made to hold the inquest at 5 o'clock this evening at the morgue.
Col. Robert C. Holton, with Bennet G. Murphy and George G. Kilpatrick, were the printers, editors and owners of the Danville Daily Commercial, which made its initial appearance on April 5, 1865. James Kilpatrick was the pressman and "Johnny" Contin, now of the Press-Democrat, was the devil and carrier. On Dec. 26, 1867 The Plaindealer, Danville's other publication was purchased and merged with The Commercial, the late Col. R. H. Johnson becoming a member of the Commercial staff at the time of the [merger]. Col. Holden remained with the paper through the many trials and changes of ownership for number of years, finally retiring and starting The Eureka laundry which at the time was located on West North street, just to the rear of the Aetna hotel. He conducted that bor many years, but was finally compelled to sell because of ill health.
For the past several years he has been a member of the Soldiers' Home and has been ill, critically ill at times with stomach trouble. For the past two or three years he has been wasting away rapidly and recently was so weak and emaciated that he could hardly get about. Only Wednesday his application for admission to the hospital at the Home was granted and he was planning to enter there. Thursday morning when he was given a cup of coffee at the hotel he begged to be allowed to remain at the hotel until 4 o'clock, by which time, he stated, he must be at the Home. He was informed that the room was wanted, but was granted the special privilege of remaining there until 4 o'clock.
Mrs. Holton died several years ago and is buried in Springhill cemetery. While he is a member of the Home, it is probable that he will be buried in Springhill, beside the remains of his wife.
From: The Commercial-News - Thursday February 20, 1913