The intent of this posting is simply to document the facts about slave ownership from a genealogical standpoint. No moral or ethical judgments are implied. Prior to the Civil War, it was common practice for certain businesses to own slaves in both the South and the North. Hopefully, this may assist some decendants in discovering their roots.
Historical records indicate the following Fonda slave ownerships: (For simplicity, the term Black is used herein to designate what may have originally been listed as Colored, Negro or Mulatto, today referred to as African-American)
Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1718-1820:
Joseph Fonda – New Orleans, LA – seller of 1 slave – 3/18/1816 – Notary: Pierre Pedasclaux, Depository: housed in parish courthouses. Location: Orleans (including Chapitoulas). Language of this record: French, Seller: Joseph Fonda, Buyer: Jean Davis, Name: Eveille, Name Type: Partilly coded, overwhelmingly European, Gender: male, Race: black, Age: 50, sold or inventoried as an individual Value of Sale: 235, Sale Common Price: 235.
1850 US Census Slave Schedule:
Abraham Fonda – Louisville, KY – owner of 1 slave, 15 Male Black
Claressa Fonda – Montgomery Co., MD – owner of 10 slaves – 5 Male / 5 Female, Black, ages 48/38/36/27/12/11/7/5/3/1
Sarah Fonda – Monroe, AL – owner of 1 slave, 60 Female Black
1860 US Census Slave Schedule:
Abraham Fonda – Louisville, KY – owner of 1 slave, 40 Male Black
Frederick Fondy – Bullitt, KY – owner of 1 slave, 25 Male Black
Sara Fonda – Monroe, AL – owner of 6 slaves – 2 Male / 4 Female, Black, ages 50/40/35/30/20/2
We also know that a few slaves were kept by several other Fonda’s in the North since there are references to slave quarters on certain properties. These all appear to be prior to 1820, before detailed record-keeping.
After the Civil War, and all slaves were set free, some apparently took the name of their former owners. We have records of some Black families with the Fonda surname. Here are 12 heads-of-household with Fonda (sic.) surnames found in US Federal Census records (for privacy, those born after 1930 are not disclosed):
Doe Fundy – b. abt 1795 – 1870 US Federal Census, 12-Wd 15-Sub Divn, St. Louis Co., MO (75, Black, b. LA, Roustabout) – probably slave of Christopher Yates Fonda (and wife Sara, listed above in 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules, since Christopher had died in 1845), Merchant of Monroe, LA.
Primis Fonda – b. abt 1796 – 1840 US Federal Census, Salina, Onondaga Co., NY (Free Black, b. NY); 1860 US Federal Census, 4-Wd Syracuse, Onondaga Co., NY (Free Black, Day Laborer); 1870 US Federal Census, 8-Wd Syracuse, Onondaga Co., NY (Black, Cook, Wife Rachel) – probably slave of Nathan Carey Fonda, Blacksmith of Syracuse, NY.
Henry Fandy – b. 1835 – 1880 US Federal Census, Pembroke, Christian Co., KY (Black, b. KY, parents b. VA, Laborer, wife Malvina and 7 children)
John B. Fondy – b. abt 1840 – Civil War Service: John B. Fondy; Co.E, 81st US Colored Infantry, Private
B. Fonday – b. 1847 – 1880 US Federal Census, Van Zandt Co., TX (Black; b. GA, Tends Bar)
John Fonda – b. 1858 – 1880 US Federal Census, 3rd Ward, Washington Co., LA (Mulatto, b. MS, parents b. MS, House Servant)
Benjamin Fondey – b. 1869 – 1900 US Federal Census, Perdido, Baldwin Co., AL (Black; b. AL; parents b. AL, Road Superintendent, Wife Mary, 1 child)
Sam Fundy – b. 1870 – 1900 US Federal Census, Brickville Pct, Colbert Co., AL (Black; b. AL, Farmer, Wife Darria, 2 children)
James Fonda – b. 1877 – 1900 US Federal Census, Texarkansas, Bowie Co., TX (Black, b. AR, Hotel Waiter, Wife Emelie, 2 children)
Jim Fonda – b. 1879 – 1910 US Federal Census, 4-Bt, Tallahatchie Co., MS (Black; b. MS, Wife Mary, 2 children)
Edgar Fonda – 1881-1956 – Black, b. LA; res. Hughes, AR; res. MS; Wife Pearlie, 2 children
With the exception of the first three, the origins of these men are unknown. Those first three did not leave any progeny that are recorded. One had a son and grandson, but the line stopped there. It is not certain that their names were taken from their slave masters, although in sheer numbers, it is possible. The locations are generally consistent with the known locations of slave ownership: LA, KY, AL, NY and MD, so you could draw some conclusions.
One interesting story unfolded regarding a slave who was set free long before the Civil War:
The Town of Galway records show that in 1812, Abraham Fonda sold a certain slave, called “Lun,” to John Pettit and that Pettit entered into an agreement “to free ‘Lun’ in nine years and at that time give ‘Lun’ two cows and 10 sheep of full middling quality.” The document was witnessed by Lenton Hicks and Ebenezer Fitch and Eli Smith recorded it April 6, 1813. Nine years later, in 1822, it is recorded that Abijah Comstock and Asa Cornell, overseers of the poor, were called upon to examine the said “Lun” and “Kate,” his wife, “to see if they were of sufficient ability to provide for and maintain themselves?” They issued a certificate of freedom in issuing which they took pains to state that it was their pleasure “to encourage acts of humanity” and an entire willingness that “all should enjoy the inalienable right of liberty.” Chronicles of Saratoga: a series of articles., Chronicle VIII. Harriet Beecher Stowe visited Saratoga in 1850’s–“Cabin” staged in hall p. 29. McGregor, Jean. Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: Reprinted from The Saratogian, 1945-47.
This is noteworthy since The United States was fifty years away from emancipation although “by the time of the 1790 census, 94 percent of the 698,000 U.S. slaves lived below the Mason-Dixon Line.” The British Empire was still twenty years away from the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.
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