i would have to venture , he was probably on his way to the CA Gold Rush as a 49'er..(1848-1852 was the gold rush) CA became a state ,only becausethe influx gave it enough poulace to attain statehood at the end of 1850. Therefore there was no law and order established and it was wild. Many people died over claim disputes , gold robberies or just plain indian attacks. At the time it was ruthless cowboys and mexican bandits. He may have died of old age but my guess is it was the former.