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Virginie De Fremery

Virginie Therese Herckenrath De Fremery a black woman (July 11, 1824 – February 1, 1890) was the wife of Jacobus (James) de Fremery (February 17, 1826 – May 28, 1899), and the daughter of Leon Herckenrath (June 6, 1800 – September 12, 1861) a wealthy Dutch merchant and Consul of Netherlands in charge of the states of Georgia and South Carolina and his wife Juliette Louisa McCormick a mulatto slave girl (July 11, 1809 – April 13, 1856) who he purchased at the age of 11.

Virginie married James de Fremery (February 17, 1826–1899) who was a well-to-do merchant born in the Netherlands. He came to San Francisco in 1849 and was a “commission merchant.” His merchant firm was, fittingly, called “de Fremery and Company.” 2

James de Fremery was the founder of the Savings Union Bank of San Francisco (which became Wells Fargo) and, like many early residents of Oakland, owned large amounts of real estate in Oakland. 1This land included an area known then as “The Point”: six city blocks between Adeline and Poplar and between Sixteenth and Eighteenth Streets. 7

James de Fremery was also president of the Chamber of Commerce (not clear if Oakland or San Francisco), involved in the Savings and Loan Society, the Giant Powder Company, the American Sugar Refining Company and the railroads. de Fremery died on a train, of heart disease. 4 de Fremery died a wealthy man: his estate was estimated between $100,000 and $500,000. 6

Virginie and James de Fremery built the family estate “The Grove” in Oakland, where the family lived for many years until the death of their son, James Leon de Fremery, who left the estate to the City of Oakland to be used as a park. The estate is now de Fremery Park, and the home, an Oakland Landmark, is the de Fremery Recreation Center.

Original Article appears in the Oakland Local Wiki

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