Fonda Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Fonda Meaning
Fonda name came at first from Italy, from the Italian fondo
or fonda meaning “deep” and describing a deep valley
to be found near
the city of Genoa. An Italian by that
name was said to have fled to the Netherlands in the 16th century at
the time
of the Reformation. Jacob Harmense Fonda
was recorded in Holland around 1540.
The Fonda name in America is attributable
to Jellis Douwese Fonda who left Holland with his family in 1651 for
New York.

Fonda Resources on

Fonda Ancestry

not known why or exactly when Jellis Fonda
and his family left Holland for America.
There is no known record of the family on published ship
lists. A best guess, based on available information, indicates that
probably sailed on either the Bonte Koe
or the Prins Willem.

America. When Jellis arrived in
upstate New York in
1651, he was, according to a contemporary account, “accompanied by his
Hester Jans and three children – a son Douwe, aged about eleven years,
and two
daughters Geertien and Sara, aged around nine and seven.”

New York. Jellis
died in 1659 and it was his son Douwe who established his family, a
large one, at
Albany outside the town’s north gate.

Douwe’s sons spread a bit. Isaac remained
in Albany (his nephew Gysbert
prospered in business there and was one of its wealthiest citizens by
1760’s). Jellis, a gunstock maker, moved
to nearby Schenectady; while Jan settled in Rensselaerswyck.

In 1751 Douwe Fonda, a
farmer and merchant,
moved from Schenectady to the hamlet of Caughnawaga along the Mohawk
some 30 miles west of Albany. After he
was brutally scalped during an Indian raid in 1780, the settlement was
Fonda and Fondas remained there until the late 1960’s.
Douw Henry Fonda built the present farmhouse
in the 1840’s in which seven generations of the family have lived.

Some Fondas had
started moving away from New York. John
H. Fonda left for Wisconsin in 1825.

Fonda trekked to Prairie du Chien,
Wisconsin in 1825. He was an explorer,
trader, mail carrier, Indian agent and, later, a colonel in the Civil
War. There was a life-size painting of him
hung in
the Wisconsin Capital Building.”

Others went west – to Missouri, Illinois and
Kansas. Ten Eyck Fonda departed the New
York Fonda farm for Illinois in 1873 and then moved further west to
five years later in search of railroad work.

Abraham Fonda, born in Missouri, returned
to New York where he was
a cigar manufacturer. His first wife Mary
Alice was a
well-known music critic who died in 1897.
His second wife Rhoda apparently married him in 1919 for his

and Hollywood. Ten Eyck’s son
William was a printer in Omaha, Nebraska.
William’s son Henry Fonda,
born there, began acting and got his first break in films in 1935. He was to be a Hollywood star for the next
forty years.

Henry was also the patriarch of a family of famous actors,
including daughter Jane Fonda,
Peter Fonda, granddaughter Bridget Fonda, and grandson Troy Garity.


Fonda Miscellany

Douw Fonda’s Misfortune During the Revolutionary War.  Douw Fonda had lived a long and prosperous life as a
farmer and merchant along the Mohawk river in upstate New York.
He had been a close friend of the British constable there and
had always
been on good terms with the Indians.

However, in May 1780, at the age of
seventy-nine, his life was taken away heartlessly as if he had been
active as
an enemy.  He was killed during a raid by
the British army, aided by the Mohawk Indians.
His house was plundered and burned and his sons, John and Adam,
taken prisoner.  John was later released
but Adam was taken to Canada and held there for nearly a year.

His legacy though
remained through his abundant offspring, which included six children
and thirty

Abraham Fonda’s Will.  On July 11, 1919 Abraham G. Fonda died in Brooklyn, two weeks after his
marriage to Mrs. Rhoda Hunt.  His niece,
Florence Durant of Saratoga, immediately went to court to contest his

her affidavit, she said that her uncle was 76 years old when he died;
that he
was a cigar manufacturer in Brooklyn where he accumulated a fortune of
$100,000. His new wife was just 40.

affidavit alleged that the wedding took
place on June 28, 1919 and that immediately afterwards Fonda was
assisted by
two men to the Terminal Building, just across the street, where in a
office a will was drawn up leaving his entire estate consisting of
$50,000 in
cash and $50,000 in bonds to his bride.

first witness was Mary Phelan, of
Passaic, New Jersey who testified that some months before Mrs. Fonda
she was at her apartment in Brooklyn. At that time, Miss Phelan said
that she
said: “I know a nice old man who wants to make love to me.
He has lots of money.  If he does it will cost
him all he has.  I will introduce you to
him and maybe you can get some also.”

Stephen Callaghan intimated
that he would give a decision for the plaintiff.

seems to me that
Fonda was unduly influenced by indirection and that the defendant, now
widow, entered into what was a clever scheme to gain possession of his
property.  I believe Fonda at all times
was in his right mind, but I think also that this woman, in her
relations to
him, was not actuated entirely by love, but that her kindness really
constituted a fraud.” 

Henry Fonda’s Ancestry.  Henry Fonda described his ancestry as follows in his 1981 autobiography:

records show the family
ensconced in northern Italy in the 16th century where they fought
on the
side of the Reformation, fled to Holland, intermarried with Dutch
daughters, picked up the first names of the Low Countries, but retained
Italianate Fonda name.

Peter Stuyvesant surrendered Nieuw
Amsterdam to the English, the Fondas – instead of settling in
Manhattan – canoed
up the Hudson River to the Indian village of Caughnawaga.
Within a few generations, the Mohawks and
Iroquois were butchered or fled and the town became known to mapmakers
Fonda, New York.”

The table below shows the line from the immigrant Jellis Fonda to Henry Fonda.

Jellis Douwese Fonda (1614-1659), born in Holland, m. Hester Douwes

– Douw Jelliszen Fonda (1641-1700), born in Holland, m. Rebecca Jans

— Jellis Adam Fonda (1670-1737) of New York, m. Rachel Winne

— Douw Jelliszen Fonda (1700-1780) m. Maria Vrooman

—- Adam Douw Fonda (1736-1808) m. Neeltje Bries

—– Douw Adam Fonda (1774-1855) m. Lavina Breese

—— Garret Fonda (1808-1878) m. Rachel Polhemus

——- Ten Eyck Fonda (1838-1923), from New York to Nebraska, m. Harriet McNiell

——– William B. Fonda (1879-1939) of Nebraska, m. Herberta Jaynes

——— Henry Fonda (1905-1982), born in Nebraska, the film actor

Jane Fonda at Eighty.  In December 2018, at the age of eighty, Jane Fonda stepped out perfectly coiffed to run errands in Beverly Hills.

blonde hair was styled in gentle curls and was made up with blusher
and red lip color for her outing.  She
wore a chunky knit black cardigan tied at the waist and black trousers
shoes.  She had on a pair of sunglasses
and accessorized with gold pendant earrings and a statement ring.

Fonda, who has been
starring in the Netflix series Grace and
, recently announced that she’s launching a lifestyle brand
aimed at
women over fifty.  It will include
activewear, health and nutrition products and fitness equipment.


Fonda Names


from Holland who
arrived in New York in 1651 was the progenitor of the Fonda family in
Mary Alice Fonda
, writing under the
pen-name of Octavia Hensel, was an internationally-recognized music
critic of
the late 1800’s.
Henry Fonda
was an
American film and stage actor whose career extended from the 1930’s to
Jane Fonda
, a highly
acclaimed American film actress, has also been known for her political
during the Vietnam war and for her fitness videos

Select Fonda Numbers Today

  • 700 in America (most numerous in New York)





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