The History of Fremont, CA
Fremont today is more associated with the future than the past, due to its close proximity to Silicon Valley. But Fremont, CA has a history like the history of America: sometimes glamorous, sometimes violent, and in constant evolution.
Read on to find out the fascinating history of this Alameda county city.
Pre-Columbian Era in Fremont, CA
Before the arrival of Spanish settlers, the people who lived in Fremont were the Native American Ohlone people.
The Ohlone people of Northern California were predominantly hunter-gatherers, but they also practiced a form of husbandry, as each year they burnt the old growth to produce better seeds.
They were not a nomadic people, but lived in huts. The arts of the Ohlone included tattooing, piercing of the ears and nose, basket weaving and jewelry making. In the summer, men would go nude, while women wore skirts of bark and tule.
Before the forced conversions of Spanish rule, the Ohlone practiced a religion called Kuksu. Kuksu worship involved ritual dances to encourage health, good harvests, hunts, fertility and weather, as well as ritualistic puberty rites and intervention with the world of spirits.
The area that was to become Fremont was then the Ohlone village of Oroysom.
Spanish Rule in Fremont, CA
It was on June 6, 1795, when the Spaniard Father Fermin de Lasuen founded the Mission San Jose, on the sight of the future Fremont, that the written history of the region began. The desired location of Lasuen’s Mission was the San Ramon Valley, but the Native Americans there proved much too hostile to the Spanish colonizers.
Most of the Native Americans from the region had already been converted at the Mission Santa Clara, thirteen miles South. They returned home to build the new Mission, while Spaniard monks and secular officials oversaw the project. During their time on the Missions, the Native American population was decimated by measles.
A Mexican Territory
Baja California passed out of Spanish hands after the Mexican War of Independence in 1821. However, until 1832, the fathers and monks of the Mission San Jose were content in running the wealthiest Mission in California. This contentment was not to last with the secularization of Mexico.
The lands of the Mission San Jose were given to private landowners, and eventually the Father left. The Native Americans who had lived on the Mission fled, but were unable to return to life as it was before the Spanish settlement of the region. Many then died of starvation and disease.
After Mexico lost the Mexican-American war, in 1848, California was bought by the United States. For the first time, Fremont was an American territory.
The Gold Rush
California becoming an American territory could not have happened at a better time; the year Mexico lost the war, American James W. Marshall discovered gold in a California river, and the Gold Rush began.
The area grew rapidly during the Gold Rush. Although many prospectors had come there looking to make a fortune in gold, it was agriculture that flourished, and the town produced grapes and olives. Until the destruction of the San Francisco earthquake, Fremont had the largest winery of California.
The Twentieth Century
Before Hollywood, Fremont was the motion picture center of America. From 1912-1915, many movies were filmed in the city, most notable among them, Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp.
In 1956, four townships were united to make the city we today know as Fremont.
From the 1970's onward, American industry in the city flourished. There was a boom in high-tech companies setting up in the city, which established the connection with Silicon Valley that endures today.
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