A candlelight Victorian dinner on Friday will celebrate the bicentennial of John C. Fremont’s birth.
The American military officer, explorer and politician for whom our city is named, was born on Jan. 21, 1813.
John C. Fremont Days board president-elect Liz Rayl said proceeds from the candlelight dinner will benefit the festival. Cost to attend the dinner is $50 per person. There will also be a silent auction and entertainment.
“It is a fundraiser for the festival, but we also wanted to celebrate John C. Fremont’s birthday,” Rayl said.
“We had been planning to do different things,” she said. “With John C. Fremont’s 200th birthday, we wanted to come up with something more authentic. That’s why we decided to go with the Victorian dinner.”
The event will be held at St. James Episcopal Church, 301 E. Fifth St. Dinner, featuring julienne soup, baked salmon, pork tenderloin or spring chicken, and, of course, birthday cake, will begin at 6:30 p.m., preceded by a 5:30 p.m. cocktail hour.
RSVP information is available at www.johncfremontdays.com.
The 27th annual John C. Fremont Days festival will be held July 12-14.
“We are trying to do some new things with the festival every year, that’s going to be our goal,” Rayl said. “Last year we tried something new and it went over well, so that’s our goal. We want to kind of get it back to the way it was, do some new things every year.”
Last year’s new event, the “Shadows Tour,” was a tram tour of purported haunted locations in Fremont. Held on July 13, the tour was so popular, the trams couldn’t take all of the people who wanted to go.
“It was a great response, so we want to continue with that and try to do something new every year,” Rayl said.
Fremont, who died in 1890, may have never actually stepped foot in the area that would later be named for him.
A utility pole across the street from Rogers Tent and Awning at First and D Streets stands where town fathers drove the stake to plat out the town in 1856 — the year Fremont was the Republican Party’s candidate for president of the United States.
His opponent was Democrat James Buchanan, and Fremont’s town fathers knew that a band of Democrats had recently founded a prairie village named Buchanan about 30 miles upriver from Fremont near present-day Schuyler. The town fathers responded by naming Fremont after the Republican nominee.
At the time of the campaign, Fremont lived in New York.
Buchanan won the election, but the town named for him did not survive.
As a young Army officer, Fremont’s first major western project was an expedition into the country between the upper Mississippi and Missouri Rivers in 1838. Fremont later led surveys of the Oregon Trail, Oregon Territory, the Great Basin and Sierra Mountains to California.
Fremont’s published accounts of his expeditions became popular with the public.
He was popularly known as “The Pathfinder” or “The Great Pathfinder.”
Fremont became wealthy when he purchased land in California and struck gold, but he later lost his wealth.
Fremont served as governor of the Arizona Territory for several years.
During the Civil War, he commanded the armies in the west, but was stripped of his command by President Abraham Lincoln for among other things, trying to abolish slavery without consulting the federal government.
Fremont died in New York City and is buried in Rockland Cemetery in Sparkill, N.Y.
Named after him are counties in four different states; cities and villages in several states, including California, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Utah and Wisconsin; natural markers like Fremont Peak in the Wind River Mountains, and Fremont Peak in San Benito County, Calif.; a tributary of the Colorado River in southern Utah; Fremont Island in the Great Salt Lake; as well as various streets, schools and hospitals.
The Seattle neighborhood of Fremont is indirectly named for him as it was named after the hometown of the early residents from Fremont, Neb.