Gysbert Fonda was born in 1720. He was the eldest son of Albany residents Claas and Anna Marselis Fonda. Growing up in Albany's second ward, he learned the ins and outs of the fur trade and then followed his father in business and in community service. Appointed firemaster in 1747, he was elected assistant alderman for the second ward four times - first in 1761.
In October 1753, he married skipper's daughter Elsie Douw. Over the next two decades, the marriage produced seven children who were baptized in the Albany Dutch church where both parents were pewholders and baptism sponsors.
These Fondas settled into "a good house" on Pearl Street. In 1759, he was one of the managers of the city lottery. Gysbert prospered in business - being counted among the wealthiest Albanians during the 1760s. In 1766, he stood with his neighbors in opposition to the Stamp Act. However, ten years later, this cautious merchant was identified by the same neighbors as opposed to the American cause, refused to sign the non Importation association, and was ordered disarmed. In 1778, he refused to swear allegiance to the United States and was threatened with deportabanishment to the British. With much to lose, Fonda then took the oath! Those reservations aside, Gysbert Fonda survived the war and even was granted a bounty right in conjunction with the Albany regiment of the county militia.
The end of the war found him back to business, supporting his church, petitioning the city government, and standing with other Albanians in opposition to the proposed Federal Constitution. However, the resurgance would be short-lived as Gysbert Fonda died in August 1788. He had lived sixty-eight years. On September 8, he was buried in the Dutch Church cemetery plot. Later, his remains were moved to Albany Rural Cemetery where his grave is today! His will probated in December 1788 named his wife, son Nicholas and daughter, Lyntie Lush as heirs.
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Sources: The life of Gysbert Fonda is CAP biography number 3782. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.
By Stefan Bielinski, Colonial Albany Social History Project [http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/albany]