ATHERTON, Gertrude Franklin Horn

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Gertrude Atherton (1857-1948)
Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, CA

ATHERTON, Gertrude Franklin Horn (1857-1948), San Francisco-born novelist who used many of the places she visited as backgrounds for her novels. A collection of short stories published in 1902 contains The Isle of Skulls, set at the Santa Barbara Mission and on an offshore island. The priest's mission is “to lead the heathen to God.” They ask: “Shall we leave these miserable islanders to perish, when we have it in our power to save?” They board a schooner and journey three days, passing “a long narrow mountainous island,” to another isle [San Miguel?] where they encounter at the heads and feet of skeletons “great bowls and urns, toy canoes, mortars and pestles, of serpentine, sandstone and steatite, wrought with a lost art.” The priests comment, “The ways of all men are not our ways.”

Atherton died of a stroke at ago 90 in San Francisco. She is buried in Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, California.


» Atherton, Gertrude The Splendid Idle Forties, New York: Stokes, 1902.