Who Was Fremont Older?

Fremont Older,
Fremont Older,
Fremont Older, builder and first owner of the house for which our May tour is offered, the man for whom the Fremont Older Open Space Preserve and the Fremont Older Elementary School in Cupertino are named, was a crusading newspaperman and editor in San Francisco for nearly fifty years.

He became the editor of the San Francisco Call (later merged with the San Francisco Bulletin) in 1894. During the eventful years of the San Francisco Earthquake and the mayoral corruption scandal that followed, Older worked tirelessly for the conviction of dishonest, bribe-taking politicians. He was even briefly kidnapped by allies of the grafters, but luckily was rescued by a stranger who realized that Older was being held prisoner on a train. He was also deeply involved in documenting the surprisingly-forgotten Preparedness Day (for World War I) bombing in 1916, at which a suitcase bomb exploded during a parade, killing 10 and wounding 40. Two labor leaders were wrongly convicted of the crime and Older spent years working for heir release, which did not happen until after his death.

At the Call, Fremont Older worked with Cora Baggerly Older, whom he had met and married in 1893. She worked as a reporter and literary editor, and became a well-known biographer (of William Randolph Hearst), historian, and novelist from the early part of the century until publication of her last book in 1961.

The Olders hosted many literary, artistic, and political guests, including Clarence Darrow, during their years in the home.

If you are interested in reading more about the Olders, there is a fascinating account of their lives, written by Cora Older at the age of 80, at this site: Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco.