Jan 01

Genoa, Italy

Extract from “Early American Families“, Rev. W.A. Williams; Philadelphia, PA; 1916:
“The Rensselaer-Bowier Papers say that Douw Fonda was a Frisian, and Tacitus says that the Frisians dwelt along the coast of the North sea. They were converted to Christianity before A.D. 800. The family of Fonda was originally from the Republic of Genoa, Italy. The Marquis de Fonda was one of the leaders of a revolution in Genoa, having for its object the overturning of the aristocratic government, and putting the election of the Doge and Senate, into the hands of the people at large. The Doge (=duke) was the duke, or chief magistrate. Our ancestor was an early republican, and must have lived there, between 1339, when the first Doge was elected, and 1528 when the Dogate ceased. Baron de Fonda was unsuccessful in his attempt, and fled from the country, taking refuge in Amsterdam, Holland, whence his descendant, Jellis Douwese Fonda, emigrated to America in 1642 (1650), and had grants of land from the Dutch government, settling in or near the present city of Albany, N. Y.”

“There is a perhaps less credible tradition also, that the Fondas were Huguenots. and fled from France to Holland after the massacre of St. Bartholomew’s night, Aug. 25, 1572. There is another tradition that they fled from Spain on account of persecution or followed the Duke of Alva to Holland. It is also said that they belonged to the royal house of Spain, fled to Italy, because of religious persecution, and came later to Holland. Possibly they fled from Italy to France, and from France to Holland. The form of the family name is Latin and therefore similar in French, Italian, and Spanish, indicating the Latin origin of the family, probably In Italy. The Fondas were Dutch Reformed Protestants when they emigrated to America, and must have been among the first converts of the Reformation. Their descendants are widely scattered throughout the Union, though many are still living near the old home in Eastern N.Y.”

“The family name is taken from a deep valley in the Apennines, about 12 mi. from the city of Genoa, called Fonda, a name which means bottom, deep, foundation, etc. It is said that, in the early part of the last century, the estate was still in the possession of a branch of the family, the Count de Fonda, and there are many of the name, in the various parts of the Genoese territories.” Some of the family may have known Columbus in Genoa.”

Note: the above is disputed in “Old Dutch Families: Fonda Family” (De Halve Maen Quarterly, 1945):
“The Fondas were important in up-state New York during the Colonial period and in the early development of the State. Presumably the family is of Frisian origin and one genealogist has outlined European background for the Fondas giving them a really illustrious descent. However, these stories apparently come from tradition rather than substance.”

Trieste, Italy

Today, most native Fonda families live in Trieste, Italy and nearby Piran, Slovenia.  There is a wonderful website by Robert Fonda regarding Slovenian Fonda Genealogy which provides a rich family history within that area.  This tends to support the above statement about the Genoa connection being less credible.

quoting Robert Fonda:
“Although there is no written evidence to prove that surname FONDA really came into existence in Piran, there is some statistic research which more than obviously shows that. Here I will mention three: the first was done by means of a telephone book and internet (Labo.net) for the year 2002; the second was done by the historian Darja Mihelič, Ph.D. in the book “Piran, mesto in ljudje pred sto leti” (Piran, the town and the people a hundred years ago) and deals with the years between 1889 and 1892; the third one represents the number of families FONDA in the area of Italy in 1945.”

“The research of the FONDA families today shows that it is quite centrally dispersed from the area of Piran (according to the migration of population in Piran after WW2) with the emphasized direction to the Italian speaking territory the “Italian line” – Piran belonged to Italy till WW2, most of the time to the Venetian republic. It is interesting that some other old Piran surnames of the Roman origin show the same way of dispersion. As the surname FONDA is only one branch that developed from the family tree of FUNDANI’s, I was interested to to know which surname nowadays would correspond to the main branch of the genealogy.”

“By means of the the same help I found an even more frequent surname FONDI which shows exactly the same dispersion as expected. With this one namely the Rome and its vicinity is emphasized as the main centre (the town FONDI is only a hundred kilometres to the south). This surname has two somewhat smaller and less important centres with denser population in the vicinity of Florence and Milan. Beside these two surnames I also found another: FONDACARO, which probably belongs to the same family tree, the dispersion of which in the area of Italy today is different. I broadened this statistical research based on the FONDA families in phone books to the whole of Europe. The results showed the existence of the “French-Spanish line” which frequently appears in the eastern Pyrenne (Pyrennees Orientales), the “American line” in the USA and the “Slovene line” with two centres, the first in Lokev (the Slovenian Karst), and the second in Latkova vas (the Savinja valley) and its surroundings. Later on I will focus on the branch from Lokev in detail as it is the one my family derives from.”

“The historian Darja Mihelič researched the weddings in Piran from 1 January 1889 till 31 December 1892 and within this period gathered enough data according to which one can make a valid statistical pattern. The results showed that surname FONDA was statistically most frequently mentioned in the wedding certificates (2,7% ).This surname was also most frequent in connection with the house numbers – it appears in 25 addresses (the processed data was one third of all the houses in Piran). Following the data from 1945 there lived in Piran as many as 67 FONDA families which means that it was the second just after the surname Ruzzier (70 families). In this time it was estimated that in Trieste there lived 40 and in other parts of Italy another 60 to 70 FONDA families. After the cancellation of the “Zone B” in 1954, most of the Piran families emigrated to Trieste. There are now more than 20% of all FONDA families living in Trieste.”

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