Learn about the Bay Area city of Fremont, California


Fremont, California’s Bay Area — at a glance

Fremont is considered the fourth most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area with a total population of 220,000. Historically the people in Fremont have diverse cultural and ethnical influences as the city was occupied with a mix of Indian, Spanish, Mexican and American ancestry.

Early inhabitants of what is known is Fremont – the Ohlone people (American Indians)

Its history can be traced back starting from its native Indians ancestors called the “Ohlone People”. The Ohlone people lived a simple life. Their means of living were hunting and gathering. They hunted fish, birds, rabbits, squirrels and other animals for food. They also gathered different kinds of fruits, nuts, seeds and berries. They lived permanently in huts near springs and streams where they could easily get drinking water. The Ohlone people observed special rituals during events such as birth, puberty and death. They have high regard on their religion, tribal laws and ceremonies as they passed it down to their children. They lived a peaceful and abundant life.

The arrival of the Spaniards

The Ohlones’ way of life changed when a group of Franciscan missionaries came to Fremont in the year 1797. The Franciscan missionaries converted the Ohlone people to Catholics and introduced a new way of living. The mission was called the Mission of San Jose and was founded by Father Fermin Lasuen.

The Ohlones have since become craftsmen, farmers, herders and laborers. They learned to make shoes, clothes, utensils, tools, etc. With the leadership of the missionaries, some of the Ohlones were baptized and converted to Catholicism. The introduction of the missionaries to the Indians to trade and building churches made the area flourish. In 1806 to 1833, Father Narciso directed the Mission to build an adobe church. The church has since served as a reminder of the Spanish heritage in the city of Fremont.

The rancho era by the Mexicans

The mission era ended when the Mexicans arrived in the city. When they came, they were given huge parcels of land known as ranchos. The area was then divided into four parts – Rancho del Agua Caliente (Warm Springs area), Rancho Arroyo de la Alameda (Niles – Decoto area), Rancho Potrero de los Cerritos (Newark – Alvarado area). The lives of the Mexicans in the area revolved around vast herds of cattle, lively fiestas and outdoor activities such as horse riding. The Mexicans dominated the Ohlones and the missionaries’ way of life by having them work for the ranchos.

The arrival of the Americans

In the year 1846, a group of Mormons came to the Fremont area and one of the more prominent people who were with them was Colonel John C. Fremont. Colonel Fremont tried to convince the Mexicans to sell the Mission of San Jose. The Mexicans disagreed and war began between the Mexicans and the American settlers. The Mexicans were defeated by the American settlers and the rancho era ended.

The Americans changed the original pastoral life of the area to an agricultural business industry. They took over the rancho lands and built warehouses for their products to be shipped to San Francisco. The area became the leading agricultural supplier in California. The old adobe buildings were transformed into restaurants, salons, stores and a post office.

The Americans also built schools and churches, developed the roads and provided access for transportation. The environment changed from what was once a ranch society to more of a commercial business enterprise focus. The progress in the area has continued to thrive until today.

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