Letter found in Fonda has ties to Boston Tea Party

FONDA, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A recent discovery at the History and Archives Museum in Fonda has proven to be more than just history and has attracted a lot of attention in the community.

Kelly Yacobucci Farquhar is the Montgomery County historian. She was organizing some archival papers one day when she stumbled upon a letter written in 1774. But it wasn’t just any letter.

“I’ve been here almost 20 years, and I haven’t come across anything so significant,” she said.

After putting the letter through the scanner, the words “Boston” and “Tea” appeared. Immediately, she knew what it was.

“Well, I reread it and thought, ‘Well, that’s pretty interesting!’” she said.

The letter was an original copy of the 1774 letter written by Jelles Fonda, a man who is an ancestor of actress Jane Fonda. In the letter, Jelles Fonda mentioned the Boston Tea Party and what would happen to the people of Boston if they were to throw British tea into the harbor on December 16, 1773.

It reads, “They preached to the people that it was unlawful to call meetings; and said it whould be hard to pay for all the tea that Boston had destroyed and if they began to pay that then perhaps get should still finde more and more to pay.”

Norm Bollen is the Fort Plain Museum Chairman and said he is also a descendant of Fonda. He has been helping the museum transcribe the letter.

“The Fondas were part of the 51st families of Albany,” he said. “His father, Dow Fonda, had settled in this area and operated a trading post. Jelles was the oldest of three brothers.”

Bollen said there are no records from that time of how Jelles may have looked, but it is known that Jelles was a wealthy landowner and fur trader who supported the patriot cause during the American Revolution.

The small village that stands today is named after the Fonda family, and actress Jane Fonda has traced her family lineage to Montgomery County.

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