The first inhabitants of the Fremont area were Native Americans. A group of settlers led by Daniel Weaver first settled the area in 1855, the Weaver homestead serving as the first post office and public school. In November 1855, Fremont Township was established and named in honor of John C. Fremont, western explorer and Republican Party candidate for United States President. Weaver and his fellow settlers cleared the dense timber in order to farm. Early in the 1870s, Dutch immigrant families came from Holland and Muskegon, Michigan; and Fremont continues to recognize its early Dutch heritage in local festivals and pageants.
Due to rich stands of virgin timber, lumbering became a major industry, and a railroad spur soon linked Fremont to the national rail network. The lumbering industry declined in the 1860s because of the American Civil War; and in 1871, Fremont experienced a major forest fire that caused extensive damage, especially to the lumber mills. Nevertheless, Fremont rebuilt and was even able to supply some lumber to rebuild Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871.
Also in the mid-1870s, the Gerber family moved to Fremont and eventually created a major canning industry. In the 1890s the Gerbers began processing local farm produce and formed the Fremont Canning Company. In 1928 the plant started to manufacture baby foods, and the company changed its name to Gerber Products Company. Gerber now controls over 80% of the U.S. baby food market, and the plant produces baby food for over 20 foreign countries.