Elsie Douw Fonda was born in August 1731. She was the first-born daughter of Albany residents Abraham and Lyntie Winne Douw. Her mother died in 1749 and her father, a prominent skipper and city officer, later re-married. In 1757, she was among those named in the will of her bachelor uncle who also was her father's mentor and benefactor. She would inherit considerable assets from other family members in the years to come.
In July 1753, Elsie married the somewhat older Albany businessman Gysbert Fonda. Between 1755 and 1773, her seven children were baptized in the Albany Dutch church where she was an occasional baptism sponsor.
These Fondas lived comfortably in "a good house" on Pearl Street until the 1770s. However, following the outbreak of hostilities, Albany native Gysbert could not support the cruade for American liberties and was under suspicion throughout the Revolutionary era. He did manage to re-establish himself after the war but died in 1788 leaving Elsie a widow at age fifty-seven. His will named her heir and co-executor - adding to the property she had inherited from her recently deceased father.
Elsie maintained the Pearl Street property and some lots along Foxes Creek. But soon she lodged with her daughter, the wife of entrepreneur newcomer Richard Lush. She maintained her substantial holdings for several decades and was taxed as a wealthy resident of Lush's household in 1809.
A widow for more than thirty-five years, Elsie Douw Fonda lived out her life in the landmark home on Market Street with her then widowed daughter. She was buried from there in July 1823 at the age of ninety-two!
first posted: 1/15/03; last revised 9/15/12