Sep 17

Here are some photos of the family of James Robert Fonda (1816-1891), born in West Troy, Rensselaer Co., NY in 1816, who settled in Wyoming, Lee Co., IL prior to 1870.  He was reportedly an orphan at 9 years old, although the burial record of father is in 1837, so he could have been adopted.  He became a blacksmith and married Alzina Bacon of Fulton, Oswego Co., NY in December 1837.  She died in 1852, leaving him with six children.  He then married Jane E. Hendricks, the daughter of John Hendricks of Wayne Co., NY and had five more children.  They moved to Wyoming, Illinois after the Civil War, with the four youngest children, founding a Methodist Episcopal Church in about 1870.

One son, Fitch Fenton Fonda (1840-1864), born in Fulton, Oswego Co., NY, served in the Civil War for the New York 59th Infantry (Private) in the Battles of Wilderness and Weldon Railroad.  He was taken prisoner on June 22, 1864 and died of disease at Andersonville Confederate Prison on October 2, 1864.  He is buried at the Andersonville National Cemetery.

Another son, Erwin Roselle Fonda (1844-1919), born in Fulton, Oswego Co., NY, also served in the Civil War for the New York 147th Infantry (Corporal) in the Battles of Wilderness, Chancellorsville and Hatcher’s Run.  He caught Typhoid Fever and was slightly wounded as well.  He was discharged, went home to Illinois, then returned to the war as a Secretary to a Quartermaster.  Later he became an Engineer with the Union Pacific and was headquartered in Omaha, NE as of 1881.

A notable descendant of this family is Albert Neir Brown (1905-2011), great grandson of James Robert Fonda, born in North Platte, NE and raised in Council Bluffs, IA, where he excelled in sports and became involved in the ROTC.  He married his high school sweetheart, Helen Johnson in 1925, attended Creighton University School of Dentistry, established a dental practice, started a family and became a licensed pilot.  He had continued in the ROTC in college and afterwards in the reserves at the rank of First Lieutenant.  He was called to active duty in October 1940 (Capt. in Dental Corps) and when war broke out he was stationed at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, which was attacked and overrun by the Japanese just hours after Pearl Harbor in December 1941.  He was captured and survived the infamous Bataan Death March and over three years as a Japanese prisoner of war.  Upon his release, he was treated for three years at Fitzsimons Hospital in Denver.  He then moved to Hollywood, Calif. where his sister and brother-in-law were involved in show business.  He worked in the real estate business, became an active member of the Hollywood YMCA and an avid handball player.  In 1993 Albert moved to Pinckneyville, Ill. where he made his home with his daughter.  He died in a nursing home in Nashville, Illinois, on August 14, 2011, at the age of 105.  At the time of his death he was the oldest living survivor of the Bataan Death March.  He was also listed as the oldest living WWII veteran. He had been awarded the Purple Heart, the Philippine Defense Ribbon with one star, the Presidential Unit Citation, the American Defense Ribbon with one star, the American Theater Ribbon, the Asiatic-Pacific Ribbon and the WWII Victory Medal. [link] [link] [link] [link]

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