Douw Fonda, considered to be the founder of the village, originally known as Caughnawaga, settled in Fonda in about 1750. The village itself extended from the old stone churchand parsonage to Douw Fonda’s trading post near the river
within the circle of the present race track. He also founded the Fonda family - a branch of which is still in possession and residence of the original eighty-four and one half acres willed by Douw to his descendants.
The east end of the village is still to this day ofter referred to as Caughnawaga. Its name in the Iroquois language is “Kanawake” and means “above the rapids”. One of Douw Fonda’s three sons, Jelles(or Giles), born in 1727 was an extensive landholder and
trader in the village and during the Revolutionary War he served as a major in the Tryon County Militia. His home was burned with others during the raid on Caughnawaga. A local heroine, Margaret (Peggy) Wemple, daughter of Douw
Fonda, milled flour for Washington’s army and frontier forts. Her home was built in about 1780 and survived the rigors of time until a few years ago when it was torn down and replaced with a modular home. It was located on Putman
The home of Major Jelles Fonda, erected in 1790,
which he did not live to occupy, stands today on Montgomery Terrace. The Frothingham Free Library came into existence through the generosity of a bequest left by
Rev. Washington Frothingham, and remains as an excellent educational repository, with programs for all ages. Rev. Frothingham wrote several books as an author but he was also a jounalist, philanthropist, and a very active minister. In
the Fonda Section ofhis book, “History of Montgomery County”, published in 1892 he made the following statement:
“Fonda, indeed, has a very promising prospect in the future”.
Many public events have taken place over the years
but most consistent of these is the “Fonda Fair”. The first fair was held on the Old Court House grounds in 1844 and is
still an annual fall event. Another public event is the “Fonda Speedway”, started in 1953 and is still drawing thousands of
fans weekly from all over the country.
When the old Tryon County was formed from Albany County in 1772, the county seat was Johnstown. In 1836, Fonda became the county seat as a result of its geographical location in the center of the county, growth in population and
construction of the Utica and Schenectadty railroad and the old road to Johnstown was of course not paved and at times was difficult to travel on. Fonda’s Old Court House, built in 1836 and one of the finest examples of Greek Revival
arhitecture in the state, was built on the site of the home of the last Colonial Sheriff of Tryon County, who was a Tory and fled to Canada.
Our pioneer settlers were goverened by the laws of God, thus the erection of the Old Caughnawaga Dutch Reformed Church in 1763. The church was torn down in 1861 but in 1843 another had been erected at Center and Railroad
Streets and moved to the present location in 1868. The Rev. Barent Vrooman was the supply minister 1758-1794.
Prior to 1850 Catholic services were conducted in private homes, and in 1850 St. Patrick’s of Johnstown was established as a mission and later a parish and Catholics in the Fonda area attended this parish until the first Catholic
church was bult on Main Street in 1875. In 1923 the present church site was purchased and in 1926 a new church was officially opened for services Easter Sunday, April 4 and is currently in use. The Methodist Church has it’s history in the
visitations of circuit riders, who preached in small goups. The church was organized in 1842 and a church was built.
In 1843 due to the many new members a second edifice was built which was destroyed by fire in 1912. In 1913 another building was erected, which was demoslidhed to make way for the new Stewart's Ice Cream Shoppe. The
congregation united with the Fultonville church.
The Rev. F. D. McGuire was the first resident priest of the Catholic Church, and Rev. R. W. Pierson was the first minister of the Methodist Church . The Rev. James Hutchings Handy Brown was the first pastor of the Zion Episcopal Church. Services were not held after 1933, but
the Zion church still remains standing on East Main Street.
The Village of Fonda was incorporated in 1850 upon the petition to the Court of Sessions, and the order confirmed at an election held October 4. Only three were against the incorporation and seventy-eight for it. The village included
312 acres. In 1868 the main streets were paved and in 1865 a bridge was built across the Mohawk River. The first bridge constructed in 1811 was carried away by the spring floods as was the second bridge built in 1825. These were toll
The earliest efforts in manufacturing were made in 1811, when Grist Mills were bulit along the Cayadutta Creek. Fulling Mills was also started by John and Simon Veeder, Henry Fonda, G. Van Dusen and Myndert Wemple. In the
1890’s a knitting mill was started by John and Robert Own and was operated until it was destroyed by fire. Later on a similiar mill was operated but proved unsuccessful. A third attempt was made by James Shananhan and that was a
success. Flour and feed mills, paper mills and a successful cheese factory comprised nearly all of the manufacturing.
In the early 1900’s the Cayadutta Knitting Co. was taken over by Congressman Lucius Littauer of Gloversville. It then became the Fonda Glove Lining Co., later changed to Fonda Manufacturing Corp. which was destroyed by fire in 1970’s
The only industry in the village now is Kasson and Keller, manufacturer of aluminum products, located on School Street. The building was originally the old Fonda High School. The first school in Fonda was located in
Caughnawaga in the early 1800’s. In 1938 a new school was erected. In 1958 the Fonda-Fultonville Central High School was built and a middle school was added in 1971. In 2002 a new elementary campus was added.
The 1938 Fonda High School was purchased by Montgomery County and still houses several county offices.
In 1892 the New Court House was bulit, due to the noise of the railroad right near the 1836 Old Court House. In 1965 the New County Office Building was built on Broadway.
When the county seat was moved from Johnstown to Fonda in 1836, the Johnstown Herald newspaper was brought down also. The name was later changed to the Fonda Sentinel in 1843 under new ownership. in 1855 William S.
Hawley established the American Star in Canajoharie and five weeks later it was removed to Fonda where it was printed on the second floor of the Reformed Church Parsonage. The paper was acquired by Charles B.
Freeman and the name was changed to the Mohawk Valley American. This paper was later consolidated with the Fonda Sentinel and was renamed the Mohawk Valley Democrat.
William B. Wemple, Sr. purchased the “Democrat” as it was commonly called, May 1, 1912 and on his death in 1924 the paper was under the management of his son William Barent Wemple, Jr. In 1956 the paper was purchased by Chester
Gizarra who later sold it to Lee Publications, April 19, 1988. It became defunct a few years later.
The Old Fonda Jail and Sheriff’s Department were replaced in 1997 by the Ronald E. Emery Public Safety Facility, now located on Route 5-S in Glen.
HOTEL ROY BURNED
Syracuse Herald, Syracuse, NY, 26 Jan 1909
Fonda Landmark Destroyed - Night Porter Injured While Escaping
FONDA, Jan 26 -- The most disastrous fire that has visited this village since 1899 was discovered about 2 p.m. yesterday in Hotel Roy. The fire was first discovered by Miss Agnes Miller, an employee of the hotel, and before she could
give the alarm, the entire building was filled with smoke. The fire is thought to have originated in the laundry, which was located in the cellar of the hotel. The Fire department was called out and shortly afterwards word was sent to
Fultonville for assistance, and the firemen from that village - were soon on hand to give their help. The firemen worked faithfully, but all their work only seemed to help the blaze, and at 1 o'clock the entire structure was a roaring furnace.
When it was seen that the hotel could not be saved, streams of water were turned on the buildings on the opposite side of the street and they prevented the fire from spreading.
Shortly after the fire was discovered, John McMaster, who was the night porter in the hotel, and who was asleep in his room on the third story, on the west side of the hotel, was awakened and being unable to enter the all, opened the window
and hung by his hands on the window ledge for several minutes, when the bricks became so warm that he lost his hold and fell to a roof below. He received a bad gash across his forehead, a badly burned arm and a broken hip. He was taken to
Amsterdam hospital on the 4:52 train. Hotel Roy was erected by John V. Borst in 1836, and was one of the old land marks of the village. In 1892 Wells and Ward Streeter of Gloversville purchased the hotel of the late Jacob Snell and have
since conducted the same. The building was destroyed and the loss is estimated at about $40,000 with an insurance of $25,000.
Population figures for the Village
Mayors of the Village of Fonda
Stephen Sammons 1858
Stephen Sammons 1867
G. C. Simpson 1869
Douw A. Fonda 1870
John D. Berry 1871
R. H. Cushney 1871
D. Fonda 1872
F. E. Jansen 1873
Robert Wemple 1891
Jacob Snell 1900-02
F. S. Fritcher 1904
W. A. Smith 1905-06
Elmer Folmsbee 1907
Edgar Leonhardt 1909-10
I. A. Rose 1911
Harry MacNeil 1912-13
Floyd Burtch 1914-15
James Conroy 1916-17
Harry MacNeil 1918
E. V. Ausman 1919
Edgar Leonhardt 1920-22
John Wyman 1923-24
Harry MacNeil 1927-28
John Veeder 1929-35
James T. Bergen 1935-49
Ernest Laramay 1949-52
E. Merwyn Lotridge 1952-65
Stephen D. Compani 1966-92
Daniel W. Reich 1992-2000
John R. Wiltey 2000-2001
Rodney G. Simonds 2001-2008
Kimberly A. Flander 2008-2012
William "Bill" Peeler 2012-