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 Castro Valley, CA October 20, 2014 
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Jensen Ranch

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Jensen Ranch  

Jensen Ranch

The Jensen Ranch was established in 1867 with the purchase of 450 acres by brothers E.R. and J.C.Jensen from Faxon D. Atherton. Artherton had foreclosed on the balance of the Castro Grant of the San Lorenzo Rancho. This included in part, much of the hill areas surrounding Hayward Highlands, Palomares, Eden Canyon, Cull Canyon, Sunnyslope and part of Castro Valley.

The Jensen Brothers came from the Island of Fohr in the north Friesen group, located in the North Sea off the coast of Schleswig-Holstein Germany, in 1860 and 1864 respectively. They came to America, like most Europeans of that era for opportunity and a better life. After working on farms from Petaluma to Southern Alameda County, and saving their hard earned money, they made their initial purchase on hill land made available by Atherton. The brothers made a down payment and by hard work and frugality, had the property clear in title by 1871. Both brothers married sisters from the home land and they resided in the ranch house built in 1872 and still standing today, currently occupied by a Jensen descendant.

Both E.R. and J.C. Jensen were civic minded and the former served as Alameda County Supervisor in the 1880's and the latter as a founding trustee of Union High School District No. 3, predecessor of Hayward Union High School. All ten of the children of J.C. attended Palomares School and graduated from High School.

The original brothers retired after W.W. I and the farming operation was continued by three brothers of the second generation. Additional acreage was purchased in 1881 from the Atherton estate and several adjoining ranches which had been rented for years were purchased in the late 1930's and early 1940's, making a total of 1,000 acres.

Farming operations were diversified through the years as the market dictated and the availability and expense of farm labor became a factor. Hay, grain, dairy, orchards, produce, chickens, buying calves to fatten and sell, were all part of the operation over the years. After 90 years of farming under the two generations, the ranch was retired in 1957 and leased to Louis Silva of Crow Canyon who had Clydesdale horses.

The Jensen Ranch, after 110 years in the family, was sold in 1977 to Shapell Industries. The ranch house, built in 1872, and 1-1/8 acres were not part of the sale. The current owner of the ranch house is of the fourth generation, Barbara Jensen Millert and her husband Gary.

Love and tradition draws all Jensen descedents back to the Jensen Ranch house on special occasions. Easter Sunday is still observed where up to 85 family members come for the day to enjoy good food and conversation.
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