Finding aid to the Faxon Dean Atherton family papers, 1852-1910, MS 4129

Finding aid prepared by Marie Silva
California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105-4014
(415) 357-1848
reference@calhist.org
2011


Title: Faxon Dean Atherton family papers
Date: 1852-1910
Collection Identifier: MS 4129
Creator: Atherton, Faxon Dean, 1815-1877
Extent: 2 boxes, 1 volume (1.5 linear feet)
Contributing Institution: California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105-4014
(415) 357-1848
reference@calhist.org
URL: http://www.californiahistoricalsociety.org/
Location of Materials: Collection is stored onsite.
Language of Materials: Collections materials are mostly in English, with some papers in Spanish.
Abstract: Dated between 1852 and 1910, the bulk of the collection consists of personal and business correspondence addressed to Faxon Dean Atherton; business records generated by Atherton, his agents, and associates in Valparaiso and California; and real estate records for land owned by Atherton in Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, and Santa Cruz counties. The collection also includes personalia and ephemera collected by Atherton family members; court documents and probate records; income, state, and county tax documents; and other papers.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of the Library and Archives, North Baker Research Library, California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. Consent is given on behalf of the California Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Faxon Dean Atherton family papers, MS 4129, California Historical Society.

Related Collections

Related materials may be found in the Faxon Dean Atherton papers, Vault MS 5.

System of Arrangement

The collection is arranged in seven series: 1) Correspondence; 2) Personalia and ephemera; 3) Business records; 4) Legal records; 5) Real estate records; 6) Income, state, and county tax records; and 7) James Lick Trust records. Papers are arranged in rough chronological order within series.

Processing Information

Processed by Marie Silva in 2011.

Biographical Information

Faxon Dean Atherton was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, in 1815. He began his commercial career in 1830 as an apprentice to his brother-in-law, Boston merchant Charles T. Ward, and started his own hauling business in Boston in 1832. Atherton first came to the Pacific Coast in 1833, securing a position with Loring & Co. at their ship chandlery firm in Valparaiso, Chile, the following year. Around 1835, he met George Henry Bowen, who would become his business partner and lifelong friend.
From 1836 to 1838, Atherton worked as a clerk for Alpheus B. Thompson, a merchant engaged in the hides and tallow trade on the California coast. During this period, Atherton penned his California diary and formed friendships with many prominent Californians, including Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo and Thomas O. Larkin (with whom he was to be associated in several real estate and commercial ventures).
Atherton settled in Valparaiso around 1840 and became a successful merchant dealing in hides and tallow, foodstuffs, and other commodities. In 1850, Atherton and Bowen joined Loring & Co. as partners. Eventually, Atherton became one of the wealthiest men on the Pacific Coast, making extensive investments in California commerce and real estate. In 1853, he hired San Francisco agent Alexander B. Grogan to represent his interests in California. After Atherton’s death, Grogan served as the executor of his estate.
Around 1860, Atherton returned to California to settle permanently, liquidating his assets in Valparaiso and reinvesting his money in the new state. Atherton's real estate purchases included Valparaiso Park in San Mateo County; the land now forms much of present-day Atherton. Other significant purchases in the 1850s and 1860s included: San Cayetano, Corralitos, and Sal Si Puedes ranches in Santa Cruz County; San Lorenzo Ranch and Hayward lots in Alameda County; and Milpitas Ranch in Monterey County. Atherton also served on the Board of Trustees of the Lick Trust and played an instrumental role in the construction of a railroad to Hayward.
Atherton married Dominga Goñi, daughter of a prominent Chileno family. They had seven surviving children: Eulogia Isabel (wife of Enrique Edwards); Elena or Helena (wife of Captain Fred Macondray and Percival W. Selby); María Alejandra (wife of Lawrence Rathbone); Florence (wife of Ed Eyre); Faxon Dean Atherton, Jr. (husband of Jenny Selby); George H. B. Atherton (husband of California author Gertrude Atherton); and Francisco Atherton. Faxon Dean Atherton died at Valparaiso Park in 1877.

Scope and Contents

Dated between 1852 and 1910, the bulk of the collection consists of personal and business correspondence addressed to Faxon Dean Atherton; business records generated by Atherton, his agents, and associates in Valparaiso and California; and real estate records for land owned by Atherton in Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, and Santa Cruz counties. The collection also includes personalia and ephemera collected by Atherton family members; court documents and probate records; income, state, and county tax documents; and other papers.
Correspondence (1852-1896) documents Faxon Dean Atherton’s family life, as well as his commercial and real estate ventures in Chile and California. Family correspondence includes letters written to Faxon Dean Atherton by his sister and brother-in-law, Amanda and Charles T. Ward; wife Dominga Goñi de Atherton (in Spanish); children, George Atherton, Faxon Dean Atherton, Jr., Florence Atherton, and Isabel Edwards; and son-in-law Enrique Edwards. Letters written by Atherton’s friends and business associates document Atherton’s business activities in Valparaiso in the 1850s; the business activities and disputes of other New England merchants in Chile, including Loring & Co. and Samuel Crane & Co.; and Atherton’s commercial and real estate investments in California in the 1850s, 1860s, and 1870s, especially as recorded by his attorney James W. Thrift.
Business records (1852-1910) include accounts, receipts, invoices, and other documents created or collected by Faxon Dean Atherton, his San Francisco agent Alexander B. Grogan, and Dominga Goñi de Atherton, in Valparaiso and California. These include billheads for a variety of mid-nineteenth-century Valparaiso and California businesses, including Loring & Co. Other business records include records for Dry Creek Tunnel & Fluming Co. in Shasta County and Fair Oaks Farm Dairy, owned and operated by Atherton’s son-in-law Percival W. Selby.
Real estate records (1859-1882) include surveys, deeds, indentures, accounts, and leases for California lands purchased by Faxon Dean Atherton, including San Cayetano, Corralitos, and Sal Si Puedes ranches in Santa Cruz County; San Lorenzo Ranch and Hayward lots in Alameda County; and Milpitas Ranch in Monterey County.
Other papers include report cards for Atherton’s children, including Florence Atherton’s Mills Seminary records; Faxon D. Atherton vs. Fortoul et als. court papers, documenting a land dispute between Atherton and members of the Vallejo family; estate records for New England merchant John Gorham Coffin, who died in Valparaiso; and two documents pertaining to the James Lick Trust, for which Atherton served on the board of trustees.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Atherton family.
Billheads.
Businessmen--California.
Deeds.
Letters.
Merchants--California.
Merchants--Chile--Valparaíso.
Real estate investment--California.
Real property--California--Alameda County.
Real property--California--Contra Costa County.
Real property--California--Monterey County.
Real property--California--Santa Cruz County.
Receipts (financial records).

Box 1, Folder 1

Finding aid to the Faxon Dean Atherton family papers 2011

 

Correspondence 1852-1896

Physical Description: 34.0 folders
 

Letters to and from Atherton family members 1857-1883

Physical Description: 7.0 folders
Box 1, Folder 2

Letters from Charles T. Ward and Amanda Ward (brother-in-law and sister of Faxon Dean Atherton) to Faxon Dean Atherton 1857, 1874-1876

Box 1, Folder 3

Letters to and from Dominga Goñi de Atherton (wife of Faxon Dean Atherton) 1874-1883

Language of Materials: Letters are in Spanish.
Box 1, Folder 4

Letters from George Atherton (son of Faxon Dean Atherton) to Faxon Dean Atherton 1868-1875

Box 1, Folder 5

Letters to and from Florence Atherton (daughter of Faxon Dean Atherton) 1874-1875

Scope and Contents

Consists of letters written to and by Florence Atherton while she was a student at Mills Seminary in Oakland, California.
Box 1, Folder 6

Letters from Isabel Edwards (daughter of Faxon Dean Atherton) to Faxon Dean Atherton 1864, 1874-1875

Box 1, Folder 7

Letters from Faxon Dean Atherton, Jr., to Faxon Dean Atherton 1874

Box 1, Folder 8

Letters form Enrique Edwards (son-in-law of Faxon Dean Atherton) to Faxon Dean Atherton 1874-1875

 

Letters to and from Faxon Dean Atherton's friends and business associates 1852-1896

Physical Description: 27.0 folders
Box 1, Folder 9

Letters to and from Samuel Crane regarding his dispute with Elisha T. Loring of Loring & Co. 1852-1856

Box 1, Folder 10

Letters from James Hall to Loring & Co. 1854

Box 1, Folder 11

Letters from Thomas K. Sanders to Faxon Dean Atherton 1854

Box 1, Folder 12

Letter from Joseph P. Thompson to Faxon Dean Atherton 1857

Box 1, Folder 13

Letters from W. W. Evans and Charles H. Hill to Faxon Dean Atherton regarding the Valparaiso railroad 1857

Box 1, Folders 14-21

Letters from James W. Thrift to Faxon Dean Atherton 1861-1874

Scope and Contents

Letters from Atherton's attorney James W. Thrift document Atherton's real estate investments in California in the 1860s and 1870s.
Box 1, Folder 22

Letters to and from Alex B. Grogan (Faxon Dean Atherton's San Francisco business agent) 1863, 1874-1878

Box 1, Folder 23

Letter from Loring & Co. to Faxon Dean Atherton 1866

Box 1, Folder 24

Letter from Antonio Agacio to Faxon Dean Atherton 1873

Box 1, Folder 25

Letters from Samuel D. Crane to Faxon Dean Atherton 1873-1874

Box 1, Folder 26

Letters from William Blain to Faxon Dean Atherton 1873-1874

Box 1, Folder 27

Letters from Edgar Briggs to Faxon Dean Atherton 1873-1876

Box 1, Folder 28

Letters from James W. Sturgis to Faxon Dean Atherton 1873-1876

Box 1, Folder 29

Letter from James T. Watkins to Faxon Dean Atherton regarding a tobacco venture in Lake County, California 1874

Box 1, Folder 30

Letters from John Brown to Faxon Dean Atherton 1874-1875

Box 1, Folder 31

Letters from Pelham W. Ames to Faxon Dean Atherton 1874-1875

Box 1, Folder 32

Letters from Edmund White to Faxon Dean Atherton 1874-1876

Box 1, Folder 33

Letters from Gustave Schulte to Faxon Dean Atherton 1875-1876

Box 1, Folder 34

Miscellaneous letters to Faxon Dean Atherton 1850-1874

Box 1, Folder 35

Miscellaneous letters to Faxon Dean Atherton 1875-1896, undated

 

Personalia and ephemera 1868-1888, undated

Physical Description: 3.0 folders, 1 volume
Box 1, Folder 36

Business and calling cards undated

Box 1, Folder 37

Report cards 1868, 1874-1875

Box 1, Folder 38

Miscellaneous ephemera 1868-1888

Volume 1

Harper's Statistical Gazetteer of the World, by J. Calvin Smith (signed by W. L. Atherton?) 1855

 

Business records 1852-1910

Physical Description: 13.0 folders
 

Accounts 1852-1880

Physical Description: 4.0 folders
Box 1, Folder 39

Faxon Dean Atherton accounts 1852-1858

Scope and Contents

Includes accounts with Alex B. Grogan and Samuel D. Crane & Co.
Box 2, Folder 1

Faxon Dean Atherton accounts 1861-1868

Scope and Contents

Includes accounts with Alex B. Grogan and Patterson and Stow.
Box 2, Folder 2

Faxon Dean Atherton accounts 1871-1877

Box 2, Folder 3

Accounts 1880, undated

 

Receipts and invoices 1853-1910

Physical Description: 7.0 folders
Box 2, Folder 4

Dominga Goñi de Atherton receipts, Valparaiso, Chile 1855

Box 2, Folder 5

Faxon Dean Atherton receipts, Valparaiso, Chile 1853-1856

Scope and Contents

Includes the billhead of Compro de Loring (Loring & Co.).
Box 2, Folder 6

Faxon Dean Atherton invoices and receipts, California 1857-1869

Box 2, Folder 7

Faxon Dean Atherton invoices and receipts, California and Valparaiso 1870-1877

Box 2, Folder 8

Alex B. Grogan invoices and receipts, California 1863-1878, undated

Box 2, Folder 9

Expense bills to the Central Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroads 1873-1897

Box 2, Folder 10

Invoices and receipts 1879-circa 1910, undated

Box 2, Folder 11

Dry Creek Tunnel & Fluming Co. (Shasta County) records 1871-1872

Box 2, Folder 12

Fair Oaks Farm Diary records (Percival W. Selby, proprietor) 1887-1891

 

Legal records 1853-1880

Physical Description: 3.0 folders
Box 2, Folder 13

John Gorham Coffin estate records 1853-1854

Language of Materials: Documents are in English and Spanish.

Scope and Contents

Consists of records of the Valparaiso estate of John Gorham Coffin, of which Faxon Dean Atherton was executor.
Box 2, Folder 14

Probate notices and other legal documents 1854-1880

Language of Materials: Documents are in English and Spanish.
Box 2, Folder 15

Faxon D. Atherton vs. Fortoul et als. complaints and memorandum 1864, undated

Scope and Contents

Consists of a copy of a complaint and memorandum documenting the land dispute between Faxon D. Atherton and Maria de Jesus Vallejo de Fortoul et als. (including Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo) over Rancho Bolsa de San Cayetano in Monterey County.
 

Real estate records 1859-1882

Physical Description: 9.0 folders
Box 2, Folder 16

Corralitos Ranch records 1859-1880

Box 2, Folder 17

Sal Si Puedes Ranch records 1860-1875

Box 2, Folder 18

Milpitas Ranch records 1861-1882

Box 2, Folder 19

Hayward real estate records 1863-1879

Box 2, Folders 20-21

San Lorenzo Ranch records 1864-1881

Box 2, Folder 22

Bolsa de San Cayetano Ranch records 1867-1880

Box 2, Folder 23

Contra Costa Water Company deed 1878

Box 2, Folder 24

Miscellaneous real estate records 1860-1875, undated

Box 2, Folder 25

Income, state, and county tax records 1863-1875

Physical Description: 1.0 folder
Box 2, Folder 26

James Lick Trust records 1876-1877

Physical Description: 1.0 folder