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Faxon Dean Atherton


Faxon Dean Atherton (1815–1877) A native of Masschusetts, Atherton first came to the Pacific coast in 1834 to engage in trade at 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 1836-38 Atherton worked as a clerk for Alpheus B. Thompson, an early California merchant and Dan’s brother-in-law. During those eventful years, he kept a diary in which he faithfully recorded his experiences and impressions of Mexican California.  Atherton made many friends in California including Thomas O. Larkin with whom he was to be associated in several real estate and commercial ventures. In 1860 Atherton moved to California; he liquidated his assets in Valparaiso and reinvested his money in California. He included among his real estate purchases his estate in San Mateo County which he called Valparaiso Park; the land now forms much of present-day town of Atherton.

Atherton was one of the earliest visitors to the Rancho Nipomo in early March of 1838.  His visit was marked by tragedy, when his travel guide, Thomas Stuart, had a dispute and stabbed “Bill,” a black man employed by Dana.  Captain baptized Bill “at the point of death” and along with Atherton took Bill’s body and Stuart to the Mission La Purisima on March 10, 1838.

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