Guide to the Faxon Dean Atherton Papers, 1831-1932, Vault MS 5

Processed by California Historical Society staff; machine-readable finding aid created by Brooke Dykman Dockter. Revised by Marie Silva in 2011.
California Historical Society
678 Mission St
San Francisco, 94105
415-357-1848
reference@calhist.org
© 1998


Title: Faxon Dean Atherton Papers
Collection Identifier: Vault MS 5
Date (inclusive): 1831-1932
Creator: Atherton, Faxon Dean, 1815-1877
Extent: 9 boxes and 2 oversize boxes (4.5 linear feet)
Repository: California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105
415-357-1848
reference@calhist.org
URL: http://www.californiahistoricalsociety.org/
Physical Location: Collection is stored onsite.
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English and Spanish.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Existence and Location of Copies

Atherton's California diary was published by the California Historical Society in 1964 as The California diary of Faxon Dean Atherton, 1836-1839, edited by Doyce B. Nunis, Jr. A copy of this book is available in the library (Kemble F856.1.A40).

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to The North Baker Research Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Library Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The North Baker Research Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Faxon Dean Atherton Papers. MS 5 (Vault), The California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library.

Separated Materials

Two maps of Bolsa de San Cayetano Ranch in Monterey County, dated June 1881, have been transferred to the Map Collection.

Related Collections

Related materials may be found in the Faxon Dean Atherton family papers, MS 4129.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by Edward Engle Eyre and Dean Atherton Eyre in 1964.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged in chronological order and divided into two series: Business and personal papers, 1831-1876, and Estate and genealogical papers, 1877-1932. Folder titles and scope and content notes have been supplied to facilitate access.

Biography

A native of Dedham, Massachusetts, Atherton first came to the Pacific coast around 1834 to work for a ship chandlery firm in Valparaiso, Chile. He settled in Valparaiso in 1840 and became a successful merchant dealing in hides and tallow, foodstuffs, and other commodities. Eventually he became one of the wealthiest men on the Pacific coast.
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). 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. He 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 children, among them George H. B. Atherton, who later married Gertrude Franklin Horn, one of California's most important authors.

Scope and Contents

The collection comprises business records and correspondence documenting Atherton's mercantile relationships and activities in Boston, California, Hawaii, and Valparaiso; correspondence, deeds, and other documents relating to Atherton's real estate investments in California, including Las Milpitas Ranch and Bolsa de San Cayetano Ranch in Monterey County, San Lorenzo Ranch in Alameda County, Los Putos Ranch in Solano County, and Valparaiso Park in San Mateo County; and legal documents and other papers concerning Atherton's estate after his death. Proclamations and correspondence in English and Spanish (1845-1848) document escalating tensions between the United States and Mexico in California in the 1840s, culminating in the Mexican War. The collection also contains Atherton's diary for the years 1836 to 1839, which he kept while he lived in California, as well as business letters and receipts created by Atherton's sons, George H. B. Atherton and Faxon D. Atherton, Jr., and letters concerning the Atherton family genealogy.
Correspondents include Thomas O. Larkin, José Castro, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, Alpheus B. Thompson, Nathan Spear, George Henry Bowen (Atherton's friend and business partner in Valparaiso), and Alexander B. Grogan (Atherton's California business agent and executor of his estate).

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Atherton, Faxon Dean, 1815-1877--Estate.
Atherton, Faxon Dean, Jr.
Atherton, George H. B.
Bowen, George Henry
Castro, José , 1810-1860
Grogan, Alexander B.
Larkin, Thomas Oliver, 1802-1858
Spear, Nathan
Thompson, Alpheus B.
Vallejo, Mariano Guadalupe, 1808-1890
Businessmen--California.
Coats of arms.
Diaries.
Hides and skins--California.
Land surveys.
Letter books.
Mexican War, 1846-1848.
Pioneers--California--Diaries.
Real estate investment--California.
San Lorenzo Ranch (Alameda Co., Calif.)
Tallow.
Valparaiso Park (San Mateo Co., Calif.)

 

Series 1: Business and personal papers 1837-1876

Scope and Contents

Papers in this series were created during Faxon Dean Atherton's lifetime and document his personal life; mercantile activities in Boston, California, Hawaii, and Valparaiso; and extensive real estate investments in California.
Box 1, Folder 1a-1b

Business records and ephemera 1831-1836

Physical Description: 2.0 folders
Box 1, Folder 2a-2b

Notebooks and ephemera 1836-1839

Physical Description: 2.0 folders
Box 1, Folder 3a

California diary (photocopy) 1836-1839

Box 1, Folder 3b

California diary (original) 1836-1839

Existence and Location of Copies

Fragile original; use photocopy in box 1, folder 3b.
Also available in published form as The California diary of Faxon Dean Atherton, 1836-1839, edited by Doyce B. Nunis, Jr. (San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1964), Kemble F856.1.A40.
Box 1, Folder 4

Business records and correspondence 1837

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence regarding the hide and tallow trade with Mission San Miguel.
Box 1, Folder 5

Business records and correspondence 1838

Box 1, Folder 6a

Passport, newspapers, and ephemera 1839

Scope and Contents

Includes Atherton's passport; two handwritten copies of Neptunes Herald (vol. 1, nos. 1 and 2); a price list for Henshaw, Ward & Co. of Boston; and a phrenological chart made for Atherton by William West, practical phrenologist.
Box 1, Folder 6b

Business records and correspondence 1839-1844

Box 1, Folder 7

Proclamations, correspondence, business records, and other papers 1845-1848

Scope and Contents

Includes two proclamations regarding hostilities with Mexico, signed by Naval Commander John D. Sloat and President James Polk; a copy of a letter, in Spanish, from General José Castro to Governor Pío Pico conveying his protest against the junta of 1845 June 15; a letter of 1846 November 20, in Spanish, from Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo to Atherton concerning his son José and documenting his capture and imprisonment in Fort Sacramento; two English translations of Vallejo's letter; Atherton's passport; business records and correspondence; and Atherton's will, in Spanish, made in Valparaiso in 1848.
Box 2, Folder 8a-8b

Business records and correspondence 1849

Physical Description: 2.0 folders

Scope and Contents

Folder 8b contains a letter, in Spanish, to Faxon Dean Atherton from his wife, Dominga Atherton.
Box 2, Folder 9

Business records and correspondence 1850-1852

Oversize box 2

Account book of family expenses 1853-1855, 1862-1866

Physical Description: 1.0 volume
Box 2, Folder 10a-10b

Business records and correspondence 1853 January-February

Physical Description: 2.0 folders
Boxes 2, Folder 11

Business records and correspondence 1853 March-May

Box 2, Folder 12

Business records and correspondence 1853 June-September

Box 2, Folder 13

Business records and correspondence 1853 October-December

Oversize box 2

Correspondence book 1854-1857

Physical Description: 1.0 volume
Box 2, Folder 14

Business records, correspondence, and legal papers 1854 January-June

Scope and Contents

Legal papers pertain to the case of Reynolds v. Frederick in Valparaiso.
Box 2, Folder 15

Business records and correspondence 1854 July-December

Box 2, Folder 16

Business records, correspondence, and legal papers 1855 January-March

Scope and Contents

Includes ship's papers for the Argyle of Baltimore; and Atherton's will, in Spanish.
Box 2, Folder 17

Business records, correspondence, and legal papers 1855 April-May

Scope and Contents

Mostly consists of papers concerning the brig Argyle of Baltimore, and the official protest filed by its master at the Consulate of the United States in Tahiti.
Box 3, Folder 18

Business records and correspondence 1855 June-December

Scope and Contents

Includes papers relating to the brig Argyle, including discharge papers issued by the United States Consulate at Melbourne.
Box 3, Folder 19

Business records and correspondence 1856 January-June

Box 3, Folder 20

Business records and correspondence 1856 July-December

Box 3, Folder 21

Business records and correspondence 1857 January-April

Box 3, Folder 22

Business records, correspondence, and baptism records 1857 May-December

Box 3, Folder 23

Business records, correspondence, and deeds 1858

Box 3, Folder 24

Business records, correspondence, description of Carlton Tract, and family account book 1859

Box 3, Folder 25

Business records 1860

Box 3, Folder 26

Business records and correspondence 1861

Box 3, Folder 27

Business records, correspondence, and legal papers 1862

Box 3, Folder 28a

Business records, correspondence, and guarantee for Rancho Sal Si Puedes 1863 January-February

Box 3, Folder 28b

Business records and correspondence 1863 February-April

Box 4, Folder 29a-29b

Business letters and correspondence 1863 May-September

Physical Description: 2.0 folders
Box 4, Folder 30a

Business records, correspondence, and tax records 1863 October-November

Scope and Contents

Includes tax records for San Lorenzo Ranch in Alameda County and Pulgas Ranch in San Mateo County.
Box 4, Folder 30b

Business records and correspondence 1863 December

Box 4, Folder 31

San Lorenzo Ranch records and other papers 1864

Box 4, Folder 32a

San Lorenzo Ranch records 1865

Box 4, Folder 32b

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1865

Box 5, Folder 33a-33b

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1866

Physical Description: 2.0 folders

Scope and Contents

Includes records for San Lorenzo Ranch in Alameda County and Los Putos Ranch in Solano County.
Box 4, Folder 34

San Lorenzo Ranch records and other papers 1867

Box 4, Folder 35a-35b

Business, real estate, and personal records 1868

Physical Description: 2.0 folders

Scope and Contents

Includes records for San Lorenzo Ranch in Alameda County; Los Putos Ranch in Solano County; and Bolsa de San Cayetano Ranch in Monterey County.
Box 5, Folder 36a-36b

Business and San Lorenzo Ranch records 1869

Physical Description: 2.0 folders
Box 5, Folder 37

Business and real estate records 1869, undated

Box 5, Folder 38a-38b

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1870

Physical Description: 2.0 folders

Scope and Contents

Includes maps of Rail Road Square in Hayward, California.
Box 5, Folder 39a-39b

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1871

Physical Description: 2.0 folders

Scope and Contents

Includes indentures, deeds, and other records for Bolsa de San Cayetano Ranch in Monterey County.
Box 5, Folder 40

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1872 January-March

Scope and Contents

Includes records for San Lorenzo Ranch in Alameda County and Las Milpitas Ranch in Monterey County.
Box 5, Folder 41

Correspondence April -June 1872

Box 5, Folder 42

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1872 July-September

Box 5, Folder 43

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1872 October-December

Box 6, Folder 44

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1873 January-May

Box 6, Folder 45

Business records and correspondence 1873 June-October

Box 6, Folder 46

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1873 November-December

Box 6, Folder 47

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1874 January-May

Box 6, Folder 48a-48b

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1874 June-November

Physical Description: 2.0 folders
Box 6, Folder 49a-49b

Business records and correspondence 1874 December

Physical Description: 2.0 folders
Box 6, Folder 50

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1875 January-February

Box 6, Folder 51

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1875 March-April

Box 6, Folder 52

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1875 May -July

Box 7, Folder 53a

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1875 August-October

Box 7, Folder 53b

Business records and correspondence 1875 November-December

Oversize box 1

Survey of San Lorenzo Ranch 1876-1878

Box 7, Folder 54a

San Lorenzo Ranch account records 1876

Box 7, Folder 54b

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1876 January-June

Box 7, Folder 55

Business and real estate records, correspondence 1876 July-December

Box 7, Folder 56a

Business and real estate records, correspondence, and obituaries 1877 January-July

Box 7, Folder 56b

Transcriptions of Thomas Stokes Page letters to Faxon Dean Atherton 1855-1869

Acquisition Information

Transcribed from original letters in the collection by John R. Hall, Jr., and Elizabeth Bridgman in 2007.
 

Series 2: Estate and family papers 1877-1932

Scope and Contents

Papers in this series were created after Faxon Dean Atherton's death and document the execution of the Atherton estate; the business and personal affairs of his wife, Dominga Atherton, and children, George H. B. Atherton, Faxon Dean Atherton, Jr., Florence Eyre née Atherton, and Muriel Atherton Russell; and Atherton family genealogy.
Box 7, Folder 57

Estate records 1877 August-December

Scope and Contents

Includes tintype portrait of unidentified woman, measuring 4 x 2.5 cm.
Box 7, Box 58

Estate records 1878 January-March

Box 7, Folder 59

Estate records 1878 April-December

Box 7, Folder 60

Estate records 1879 January-April

Box 8, Folder 61

Estate records 1879 May -June

Box 8, Folder 62

Estate records 1879 July-November

Box 8, Folder 63

Estate records 1879 December, undated

Box 8, Folder 64

Estate records 1880 January-February

Box 8, Folder 65

Estate records 1880 March-May

Box 8, Folder 66

Estate records 1880 June-August

Box 8, Folder 67

Estate records 1880 September-December

Box 8, Folder 68

Estate records 1881 January-June

Scope and Contents

Includes maps of lands belonging to the Atherton estate.
Box 8, Folder 69

Estate records 1881 July-December

Box 8, Folder 70

Estate records 1882 January-May

Box 9, Folder 71

Estate records 1882 June-December

Box 9, Folder 72

Estate records 1883

Box 9, Folder 73

Atherton family papers 1883-1887

Scope and Contents

Contains business records and correspondence documenting the affairs of Faxon Dean Atherton's wife, Dominga Atherton; and children, George H. B. Atherton, Faxon Dean Atherton, Jr., and Florence Atherton.
Box 9, Folder 74

Atherton family papers 1888-1889

Scope and Contents

Contains business records and correspondence documenting the affairs of Faxon Dean Atherton's wife, Dominga Atherton; and children, Faxon Dean Atherton, Jr., Muriel Atherton Russell, and Florence Eyre.
Box 9, Folder 75

Estate records undated

Box 9, Folder 76

Faxon Dean Atherton, Jr., papers 1890-1900

Box 9, Folder 77a-77b

Genealogical records 1901-1932

Physical Description: 2.0 folders
Box 9, Folder 78a

Coat of arms undated

Box 9, Folder 78b

Atherton family papers undated

Box 9, Folder 79a-79b

Atherton family papers undated

Physical Description: 2.0 folders

Scope and Contents

Includes records for Corralitos Ranch in Santa Cruz County and Burri Burri Ranch.