An archive of hundreds of letters, bills, receipts, and other legal documents from the family of Academy Award-winning actress Jane Fonda dating from 1786 to 1880. This branch of the Fonda family traces its roots back to New York in 1651 when Jellis Fonda migrated from the Netherlands with his wife and four children. His grandson, Douw Jellis Fonda (1700-1780), is considered the founder of the Dutch village now named Fonda about 30 miles west of Albany. He lived a long and prosperous life as a farmer and merchant but was killed at age 79 during a raid by the British Army, aided by the Mohawk Indians.
This collection includes two early hand-drawn property maps of some of the Fonda-owned lands. One of the undated maps, completed for John Fonda, shows part of Mayfield with lots drawn and numbered. The second map, also undated, shows acreage for the heirs of A. Fonda, except 150 acres sold to John C. Smith and 100 acres sold to David and Samuel Loomis.
The earliest material in this collection is connected to Douw Jellis Fonda’s six children and grandchildren following the American Revolution. They were leaders in their community, serving as judges, state elected officials, and military officers. There are five handwritten legal documents signed by various members of the family related to the payment of bonds associated with the appointment of loan officers and treasury officials for Montgomery County between 1786 and 1792. At the conclusion of the war, the New York Legislature passed laws placing taxes on land and personal estates of all inhabitants in order to defray war expenses, discharge its debts, and support the state government. Supervisors of each county appointed individuals to "superintend" the raising of taxes within their respective counties. These documents include:
April 19, 1786 three-page document signed by Judge Jellis Fonda on pages two and three, concerning a 12,000-pound bond for the appointment of Peter Schuyler as one of the Montgomery County loan officers
May 9, 1786 document of three pages concerning Jellis Fonda’s bond in the amount of 12,000 pounds for the appointment of his son Douw Fonda as one of the Montgomery County loan officers
January 8, 1787 document of one and a half pages concerning Adam Fonda’s bond in the amount of 5,000 pounds providing surety for Douw Fonda as treasurer of Montgomery County
June 29, 1791 one-page document signed by Adam Fonda and Douw Fonda, providing 4,000 pounds as surety for John Yates to be the treasurer of Montgomery County
May 2, 1792 document of two and a quarter pages signed by Douw Fonda, Adam Fonda, and John Fonda, providing a 9,400 pounds surety bond for Douw Fonda as a Montgomery County loan officer
This collection also includes a group of documents associated with Henry Fonda (1766-1828), who fought in the War of 1812 and was appointed Brigadier General of the 11th Infantry in 1820. During 1807, 1816, and 1819, he was a member of the New York State Legislature, representing the Fourth Senatorial District of Tryon County. This collection includes two printed broadsides headed “Brigade Orders” issued by him calling regiments to rendezvous and parade “for military exercise and improvement” in 1826 and 1828. There are also 20 handwritten bills and receipts dating from 1792 to 1824 for various items he purchased ranging from flannel to gin, and three holographic legal documents for funds he was owed. An additional four letters in the collection were written to Henry, addressed variously as major, colonel, and general, dating from 1813 to 1828. Among them is a three-page letter from Daniel Cockstock dated March 6, 1826, contemplating the impacts of various new stage routes in the region.
Another group of more than 120 letters, receipts, and other documents is connected to Henry’s brother, Peter Fonda (1802-74), who was a merchant and hotel keeper, ran a stagecoach for a period, worked as a contractor, and helped build roads in the community. There are several letters about his stagecoach work, including seat reservations, purchasing horses, schedules, and even lost luggage. On January 4, 1832, he received a letter about Theophilius Williams’ lost trunk. “I understand by a letter from him that he left a description of it at your house offering five dollars to the finder which I will send to you immediately if found together with all accompany expenses incurred in the search and pay your bill for the same whether found or not if you will give your assistance,” Levi Williams wrote.
Among the letters is one from Peter’s wife, Gertrude, written to him in 1838 while he was in Rome building a bridge across the Mohawk River. “I want you to look out for yourself…don’t depend on others you may lose, keep your people sober.” she wrote. A handwritten contract with officials from Rome dated January 1839 outlines the specifications for the bridge. He is also among a dozen men listed on a 1862 patent included in this collection for an improvement in pumps.
A variety of other miscellaneous documents are provided in the archive, including:
An 1870 poll book for Fonda, Montgomery County. The first eight pages are printed and provide a “plan of organization and action” to “effect change of administration at the President election of November 1872.” Voters names are listed on six pages with P.H. Fonda’s at the end.
A printed receipt, completed in manuscript, issued by the state of New York treasurer’s office on April 9, 1816 to Simon Vedder for Douw Fonda
An eighth page handwritten receipt dated December 20, 1790, received from Adam Fonda
A one-page handwritten poem by Lavina Fonda dated June 9, 1816 written on the death of a schoolmate
A small note signed by Adam Fonda, dated September 17, 1838, requesting Peter Fonda pay $15 to Robert Bahanan
A printed document with holographic notes for the lease of property, dated October 9, 1855 and signed by Aminta K. Fonda
Supreme Court calendar for the September 1863 term, 16 pages in sewn wraps with P.H. Fonda’s name written in pencil along the top of the cover
A quarter-page handwritten document dated October 25, 1854 listing the person living in Fonda who are exempted from payment of teachers wages in District 8 of Mohawk
The materials are all generally toned, stained, and creased from former folds but otherwise in very good condition. Item #73244