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Valparaiso Park: Home of Faxon D. Atherton


Atherton first visited San Francisco, California in 1836, when the city was in its infancy. His friend and business associate, Thomas Larkin urged Atherton to move to California. Larkin wrote, "... [T]here is education available for your children and a dignity of living on landed estates down the San Francisco peninsula (that is) convenient and accessible ... [Y]ou and I were of that country. Our eyes were turned towards it in admiration and in my part in gratitude. My children were from there. They and yours will soon be." During the California gold rush, Atherton amassed a great fortune with his shipping business and the import and export of goods.
In 1860, Atherton bought 640 acres (2.6 km2) at ten dollars an acre of land on the San Francisco peninsula in what was then known as Fair Oaks, becoming one of the first residents of the area. He built his home, Valparaiso Park, approximately where the Circus Club, a private country club, is now located. Some of his children's names appear on West Atherton street signs: Isabella, Alejandra and Elena. (Source: wikipedia)

Faxon D. ATHERTON was a California pioneer whose character and large and beneficent influence were such as to make specially consistent a tribute to his memory, and this publication is a proper vehicle for such a memoir, for it was in San Francisco that he lived for many years, a substantial capitalist, who used his resources wisely and well for the general good of the community.  He was about fifty-nine years of age at the time of his death, and his wife passed away in 1890.

Mr. ATHERTON was born in Massachusetts, January 2, 1818, and was a representative of a family that was founded in New England in the early Colonial period of our national history.  He acquired his early education in the schools of his native state, and at the age of eighteen years entered the shipping and mercantile business, and as supercargo had charge of the operation of vessels plying between Boston, Valparaiso, Chile, and Monterey, California.  He gained wide and varied  experience.  His first visit was made to San Francisco, California, in 1836, when the future metropolis was a small town but already an entrepot of no little importance.  He was established in business in South America at the inception of the great gold excitement in California in 1849.  He amassed a substantial fortune through his connection with the exporting and importing trade and the shipping business. 

His marriage was solemnized in Valparaiso to Senorita Dominiga DE GONI, a member of one of the patrician old families of that country.  In the early ‘60’s, Mr. and Mrs.  ATHERTON established their home in California, where he purchased land and built a fine residence in what is now the exclusive residential district known as Menlo Park.  Retiring from the shipping business, he became prominent as a very large land holder in different parts of the state, owning large tracts of land in Hayward, Watsonville and other places.  His financial resources and his influence were given freely and loyally in advancing measures and enterprises for the general good of the community.  Mr. and Mrs. ATHERTON became the parents of seven children.  The names of the children are here given in respective order of birth: Alexandra, who married J. L.  RATHBONE; Elena, who married Frederick W. MACONDRAY; Francisco; George, who married Gertrude HORN; Isabel, who married Enrique EDWARDS, of Valparaiso, Chile, South America (ed.: Their great grandson, Dr. Carlos Lopez, became president of Menlo college in 2004); Faxon D., Jr., who married Jeannie SELBY; and Florence.

The marriage of Miss Florence ATHERTON to Edward L. EYRE was solemnized in San Francisco, and in this city Mrs. EYRE still maintains her home, at 2112 Pacific Avenue, and also in Menlo Park, she having long been a prominent and popular figure in the representative social life of the community. (ed.: first mayor of Atherton in 1886.)

Edward L. EYRE is a son of Col. Edward Engle EYRE and Mary (TUTT) EYRE.  His parents crossed the plains to California in 1849, and Colonel EYRE was engaged in mining for a time, afterwards entering the stock brokerage business in San Francisco.  They were always prominent and highly respected citizens of the community.  Mr. and Mrs. EYRE are the parents of two children, Edward E. and D. Atherton.

Transcribed by Deana Schultz.
Source: "The San Francisco Bay Region" Vol. 3 page 263-264 by Bailey Millard. Published by The American Historical Society, Inc. 1924.