Descendants of Jellis Douw Fonda (1615-1659),
immigrant from Friesland, Netherlands to
Beverwyck (now Albany), New York in 1651
|common surnames in this database:|
It is not known exactly when or why Jellis (pronounced "Yellis") and family immigrated to America, other than the obvious desire for freedom and opportunity. There is no known record of the family on published ship passenger lists. A best guess, based on available information indicates they probably sailed on either the BONTE KOE or the PRINS WILLEM. According to "A Career Woman in 17th Century New York," when Jellis arrived in Fort Orange (now Albany) in 1651, "he was accompanied by his wife, Hester Jans, and three children, a son Douwe, aged about eleven years, and daughters Geertien and Sara, aged about nine and seven years, respectively."
The Fonda Family was one of eighty-two distinct family groups representing the settler population of Albany at the end of the so-called Dutch period (1624-1686). Already, these urban dwellers were beginning to distinguish themselves from the farmers and husbandmen of the surrounding countryside. These families represented the largest number of New Netherlands family names in the city during its first two centuries of life. From this core group, a number of families left the Albany community, establishing new settlements at Schenectady, Kinderhook, Catskill, Schaghticoke, Hoosick, Saratoga, and beyond. Some became tenants of the Rensselaerwyck Patroon (cooperative). Others left the region entirely. Still others literally "died out" in the Albany setting. Those who remained formed the core population of what became the city of Albany in 1686.
Before the American Revolution, a Dutch village named Fonda had succeeded the Indian hamlet of Caughnawaga, along the Mohawk River, about 30 miles west of Albany. It extended from the rambling hills which comprise the Mohawk Valley, at the foot of which stood the church and parsonage, down to the river. Douw Jellis Fonda (1700-1780), father of the branch of the Fonda family so prominent in this neighborhood from the mid-1700's to the present, is considered the founder of this village, which now bears his name.
Douw lived a long and prosperous life as a farmer and merchant. He was killed during a raid by the British Army, aided by the Mohawk Indians, on May 22, 1780; he was 79 yrs. old. His house was plundered and burned; and his sons, John and Adam, were taken as prisoners (John was released but Adam was taken to Canada for nearly a year). Douw had been a close personal friend of the British constable, Sir William Johnson, and had always been on good terms with the Indians, but his life was taken as "heartlessly" as though he were an active enemy. His legacy remained through his abundant offspring, which included 6 children and 30 grandchildren.
After the war Adam returned and built a house which is still standing in the village of Fonda. Older brother Jellis became a judge in Tryon County and was serving in the Legislature when he died. Adam's son Henry who served as a captain in the War of 1812 had twin sons called Henry Douw and Douw Henry. Douw Henry, the father of Albert Fonda whose son is the present owner, built the farm home between 1842-50. Now (when this was written) on this farm is the ninth generation of the family in America; the seventh on these historic acres. (Century Farms of New York State - 1947). The farm was sold in the late 1960's but the house and barn are still occupied to this day.
Greetings to fellow Fonda Family members who are exploring their lineage... and to others who are doing genealogy research, or are just browsing for information. The Fonda Family in America has a rich heritage and there are many fascinating stories of perseverance, integrity and achievement... a truly great American legacy which is still unfolding. I hope you will find this website useful and that the database continues to grow.
There are currently over 3600 Fondas in the Main Family Line (5100 including spouses) over a 400-year time span. There are another 1600 Fondas identified, but not yet placed (Strays, for the lack of a better term). This project is limited to just the Fonda surname (and its spelling variants), including only those born with the Fonda surname and their spouses (wive's parents and daughter's children are not included).
There are separate sections broken out for Allied Early Families (nearly 450 ancestors of pre-1800 marriages) and Other European Immigrants (over 1200 Fonda immigrants not in the main family line). There are also about 120 African-American Fondas in the Strays section, with some links back to their likely slave owners prior to the Civil War. There is good evidence of at least four family lines of former slaves who retained the Fonda family name.
Recent additions include:
Future work will concentrate on:
I have enjoyed putting this project together, and I was gratified to find so much information... thanks to some excellent previous work, collaboration with other researchers, some great library resources and the ever-expanding Internet mass of information. Please feel free to send me an e-mail with comments or questions... this is a living document and is never totally complete.
I am currently working on more recent generations based on public records and feedback from our many Fonda cousins who have found the website or database. The Rootsweb on-line database does not display people born after 1930, but the GNO, GED and PDF files linked above all have everything included.
Although this is all public information, please respect other people's privacy. The message boards on Genealogy.com and Ancestry.com are good places to make inquiries. The latest update of the database files are posted at www.fonda.org and worldconnect.rootsweb.com. Please send any inquiries or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regards, A. Mark Fonda
Note: Some name variations appear as Fondy, Fondey, Funda, Fundy, Fonde, etc. It is not uncommon to have phonetic misspellings in earlier records... or in some cases, intentional changes to differentiate or localize the spelling. There are also some more recent Fonda immigrants from Germany, Italy, Ireland and Austria, whose lineage is not from Jellis Fonda. (pronounced 'Yellis' by the Dutch and German and 'Giles' by the English and French)
Worldwide Fonda Surname Distribution (International Residential White Pages in 2004):