Faxon Dean Atherton, Sr

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Faxon Dean Atherton, Sr

Birthplace: Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: July 18, 1877 (62)
Atherton, San Mateo County, California, United States
Place of Burial: Colma, San Mateo County, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Abner Atherton and Betsy Dean
Husband of Dominga Rosario Goñi Prieto
Father of Maria Alejandra Rathbone; Elena Amanda Atherton Goñi; Anacleto Francisco Atherton Goñi; Jorge H. Bowen Atherton Goñi; Eulogia Isabel Atherton Goñi and 3 others
Brother of Daniel Atherton; Martha Ann Winchester; Uriah Atherton; Otis F. Atherton and Caleb Atherton
Half brother of Mary Atherton; Otis Atherton; Catherine Atherton; Abner Atherton, Jr.; Mary Ann Atherton and 2 others

Managed by: Luis E. Echeverría Domínguez, ...
Last Updated:

About Faxon Dean Atherton, Sr

National Register #79000527 Atherton House 1990 California Street At Octavia Built 1881 Students of the occult tell us that the Atherton House is from time to time haunted by four ghosts: three agressive female spirits who in life had been Dominga de Goñi Atherton, Gertrude Atherton, and Carrie Rousseau and one frail male spirit who had been George Atherton.

The story began in 1834 when Faxon Dean Atherton of Massachusetts traveled to Valparaiso, Chile, to seek his fortune. He found his fortune, and in 1860 he purchased six hundred acres of land in San Mateo County to build his estate. Faxon married Dominga de Goñi, member of a prominent Chileno family, and they had seven children including George.

After her husband's death, Dominga built this house and moved to San Francisco with her son George and his wife Gertrude in tow. Both Dominga and Gertrude were strong women who so dominated George that in 1887 he ran away from home to seek his fortune in Chile as his father had done. Poor George had only sailed halfway to Chile when his kidneys failed. The sailors put his body into a barrel of rum to preserve it and shipped the barrel to the Atherton Mansion.

George was dried out and received a proper Christian burial, but he was soon spending his nights knocking on the bedroom doors of his mother and his widow. He became so troublesome that Dominga sold the house and moved out. For the next thirty years, owners came and went, put off by cold spots moving about the house, winds blowing through the rooms, voices in the night, and knocking sounds on doors and in hallways.

Then, in 1923, Carrie Rousseau purchased the house. She lived in the ballroom with her fifty cats until 1974 when, at the age of 93, she joined the three Atherton ghosts.

History of Atherton, California

In 1866, Atherton was known as Fair Oaks, and was a flag stop on the California Coast Line of the Southern Pacific Railroad between San Francisco and San Jose for the convenience of the owners of the large estates who lived north of Menlo Park. The entire area was called Menlo Park. It had been part of the Rancho de las Pulgas that had covered most of the area, which is now southern San Mateo County. There were several attempts to incorporate Fair Oaks, one in 1874 and another in 1911.

In 1923, Menlo Park wished to incorporate its lands to include the Fair Oaks lands. During a meeting of the representatives of the two communities, it became clear to the Fair Oaks property owners that in order to maintain their community as a strictly residential area, they would have to incorporate separately. Both groups rushed to Sacramento but the Fair Oaks committee arrived first. It was at that time they realized that they could not keep the name Fair Oaks, as it was already the name of a town near Sacramento. It was decided to honor Faxon Dean Atherton who had been one of the first property owners in the south peninsula and name the Town for him. Atherton was incorporated on September 12, 1923.

Faxon Dean Atherton, a native of Massachusetts, had spent several years in Chile and Hawaii as a trader in tallow, hides and merchandise. His friend and business associate, Thomas Lark had written to him "there is education available for your children and a dignity of living on landed estates down the San Francisco peninsula (that is) convenient and accessible." Atherton purchased 640 acres (2.6 km2) for ten dollars an acre ($2470/km²)in 1860. His home, "Valparaiso Park", was built several years later. It was simple in design and ample for his family of seven children.

Because of the development of the railroad, other San Franciscans traveled south and established summer homes. Because the dirt roads were usually impassable in the winter, the families were only in residence from May through September.

Thomas H. Selby purchased 420 acres (1.7 km2). A successful businessman, he served as mayor of San Francisco. His country estate was called "Almendral". John T. Doyle, an attorney, built a home off Middlefield Road, "Ringwood". James C. Flood purchased successive parcels and built an extravagant mansion, "Linden Towers".This is now Lindenwood. The Joseph A Donohoe estate was "Holmgrove" and is now the site of Menlo Atherton High School. James Thomas Watkins' home was "Fair Oaks" and after two moves, stands restored today on Alejandra Avenue.

The government was established with Edward E. Eyre as the first mayor. In 1928, the residents voted to build a Town Hall, which stands today. The early residents wanted a Town that would be divided into large parcels and would not contain businesses. The author Gertrude Atherton, daughter-in-law to Faxon D. Atherton wrote in "The Californians", "Menlo Park (Atherton) has been cut up into country places for what might be termed the 'old families of San Francisco', the eight or ten families who owned the haughty precinct were as exclusive, as conservative, as any group of ancient country families in Europe." A few of the large land holdings were subdivided during the 1920s and 1930s, James Flood estate in 1938. In the 1940s and 1950s over eighty subdivisions were recorded. With the minimum size of one acre (4,000 m²), the era of the large estates was over. Atherton is still a "plain of oaks". Native live oaks, white oaks, bays, redwoods, cedars, pines and other ornamental trees cover the six square miles (16 km²) of town. There are approximately 50 miles (80 km) of roads. The population is around 7500 with approximately 2500 households.

Olive Holbrook-Palmer left Holbrook-Palmer Park, a 22 acre (89,000 m²) park, to the Town in 1958. It is an open, tree-covered park, which offers recreational programs and has facilities for functions.

Children of Faxon Dean and Dominga de Goñi Atherton

Faxon Dean Atherton married Dominga de Goñi (from Valparaíso, Chile) in 1843 and had they had seven children:

1.Maria Alejandra Atherton (b. 1844), married Jared Lawrence Rathbone.

2.Elena Amanda Atherton (b. 1845), married Frederick William Macondray, Jr of Boston, Massachusetts, son of one of the first merchants of San Francisco and large land owner.

3.Anacleto Francisco Atherton (b. 1849)

4.Jorge H. Bowen Atherton (1851-1887), eloped with Gertrude Franklin Horn in 1876.

5.Eulogia Isabel Atherton (b. 1853), married Enrique Edwards, of Valparaíso, Chile. Their great-grandson, Dr. Carlos Lopez, became president of Menlo College in 2004.

6.Francisco Fascon Atherton (b. 1857), married Jane Selby, daughter of Thomas Henry Selby, 13th mayor of San Francisco, California, who built the Selby Shot Tower in San Francisco and founded the Selby Smelting Works.

7.Florence Atherton (b. 1861), married Edward Lilburn Eyre, first mayor of Atherton in 1886. [NOTE: She has sometimes been confused with Florence Atherton Faxon Spalding, a Boston music teacher, who married, also in 1886, George Frederick Spalding of Newton, Massachusetts, father of John Varnum Spalding, an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (1944–1971).]

Gold rush merchant and a successful California landholder whom the town of Atherton, California was named in 1923. (bio by: [fg.cgi?page=mr&MRid=39782531" target="_blank mel)]

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Faxon Dean Atherton, Sr's Timeline

January 29, 1815
Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States
May 7, 1844
Valparaíso, Valparaíso Province, Chile
December 4, 1845
Valparaiso, Chile
December 23, 1851
Valparaíso, Valparaíso Province, Valparaiso Region, Chile
October 19, 1853
Valparaiso, Valparaíso Province, Valparaiso, Chile
September 12, 1855
Valparaíso, Valparaiso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile