52 Ancestors, Week 28: 24 Miles was a Journey

52 Ancestors, Week 28: 24 Miles was a Journey

[This is my entry for 52 Ancestors Week 28:  Road Trips]

Today, a trip from Oakland, California to Centerville and Fremont, California is but a hop, skip, and a jump.  If traffic isn’t bad, you can drive there in less than 30 minutes.

This view of Fremont Central Park gives an idea of what the area looked like 60 years ago.

Fremont Hills in California are green and lush in the spring
Fremont Central Park Source: By David Ball, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


In the 1930s it was different.  Their were no major freeways taking you from one part of Alameda County to another.  You passed through cherry groves and other orchards.  The Centerville Fremont area was rural.  Their were many farms with apricot groves.  My great great uncle and aunt, Jose and Maria (Jacinto da Camara) lived out that way.

When my grandparents, Joao “Bohne” and Anna (Jackson) Pacheco Smith decided to visit them, it wasn’t a quick ride out and back by dinner.  It was a vacation.

This google map shows the distance between the two cities.  It wasn’t very far at all!


It took all day just to get there. My Mom’s cousin, Ted, laughed as he told me that the 24 miles from Oakland to Centerville was like an adventure. They took the train or a bus since that was easier than driving. The train station was in Centerville.  It was a main depot where the farmers sent their produce off to the canneries and where people from the East Bay stepped off to get out of the city.

The Santos, Ventura, and Spirou cousins were usually invited.  Then, the Camara and Remoaldo cousins who lived area would join them.

The de Braga family owned a farm as did their relatives, Antonio Jacinto da Camara and his wife Carolina Ornellas.  They would pitch big tents in the front yard of the house.   There the cousins would keep house for however many days they stayed.  According to my cousin, Elsie (Santos) Spirou, these were festive times with a lot of food, games, singing, and laughter.

My great grandmother, Maria (de Braga) Pacheco Smith probably made the trip out to see her brother, Jose, and her relatives, too.

My great grandmother Maria de Braga Pacheco Smith

It’s hard to imagine today.  You can reach these places so quickly now.  Go out shopping or see a movie and come home in time to make dinner.  But back then, it was a road trip.  And, it was where the Pacheco and de Braga kin vacationed to forget their city problems.

I wish I could see photos from those celebrations.  I bet they show my relatives being carefree and having a grand old time!

You can see more photographs of the Fremont-Centerville Train Depot on the trainweb website:

Fremont-Centerville, California

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