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Jellis Douwesz

Also Known As: "Jellis Fonda", "Jelle Douwse", "jillis Douwesz", "jilis Douwesz"
Birthplace: Eagum, Friesland, Netherlands
Death: Died in Beverwyck, New Netherland Colony
Immediate Family:

Son of Douwe Everts Fonda and Hilletgen Fonda
Husband of Hester Douw Fonda and "Deaf" Hester Douwes
Father of Douw Jillise Jellis Fonda; Annetje Jillis; Geertje Brickers; Sarah (Fonda) VanVoorst and Abraham Jellise Fonda

Managed by: Private User
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About Jellis Douwesz

It is not certain exactly why the family emigrated to New Netherlands (America), other than the obvious desire for freedom and opportunity. There is no known record of the family on ship passenger lists of the time. The first record is after they arrived in Beverwyck (Albany) in 1651, at which time the children were aged eleven, nine and seven. It could be assumed that they were aboard one of the many ships out of Amsterdam during the initial settlement of the New Netherlands Colony led by Dutch explorer Henry Hudson's discovery in 1609 and the Dutch West India Company trading post operations, starting in 1624.

On October 19, 1651 Jellis was granted permission by the court to distill liquor in Greenbush, a small village across the Hudson River from Albany, in the region called Rensselaerwyck. The young family took the ferry across the river to Greenbush to establish their distillery next to the house belonging to Evert Pels, who himself operated one of the many breweries in Rensselaerwyck. Another record indicates that on June 16, 1653, Jellis brought suit against his neighbor, Jan Van Bremen, for failing to deliver a hog for which Jellis paid ½ anker of brandy, about 5 gallons. Jellis won judgment for 1.30 florins.

Jellis and Hester and their children remained in Greenbush at least through 1654. By 1658 they had crossed the river again to return to Beverwyck, the settlement outside Fort Orange. Around this time Jellis had fallen ill and had become incapacitated and would die the following year at the age of 45.

In 1658, while she was living in Beverwyck, she sued Hans Vos demanding payment of three beaver for a gun she sold him. The court ordered him to settle his account with Mrs. Fonda. In the same year she was sued by Ludovicus Corbus who charged that she had removed his wife's petticoat (from the fence). Hester answered that she had not taken the petticoat but that the plaintiff had pawned it for beaver. The case was continued for lack of evidence. Corbus again charged Hester with taking an apron without his consent. Hester explained that the plaintiff's wife had given her the apron as a pledge for 5½ beaver and she not being satisfied with the apron as a pledge, the plaintiff's wife also gave her an undershirt. If all this petty litigation sounds contemporary, Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the first Patroon, shrewdly noted in his records that, "they stir one another up, suing one another more as a diversion than for the redress of wrongs." Hester started up her own business as early as 1658, engaging in the lucrative beaver trade.

In 1660 Hester married Barent Gerritsen, a widower several years her junior. He arrived in Fort Orange as a youngster in 1646. Early in 1662, Barent, Hester and Sara, then about 16, moved to the newly settled community of Wiltwyck (Kingston). The settlers lived behind a stockade due to the threatening nature of the Esopus Indians. Barent, also a distiller, became famous for the superior type of brandy he produced and became modestly wealthy. Hester still continued her trading. It was truly a two career family, almost unheard of for another 300 years.

At noon on June 7, 1663, the Esopus Indians beat back the guard at the gate and burned most of the settlement to the ground. Barent was one of the first to be bludgeoned to death. Hester and Sara and most of the remaining settlers were taken prisoner and forced to trek through 22 miles of unbroken wilderness. It was not until three months later on September 7th that Hester was released from captivity, but not without the loss of Sara. Hester never recovered from the shock and exposure and remained deaf for the rest of her life.

That same year Hester returned to Beverwyck where her daughter Greetien and her son-in-law Jan Juriansen Becker, a teacher, and their children Jan and Martina, and her son Douw Fonda were living. She had become guilderless and beaverless due to the tragedy in Wiltwyck. She set about regaining her financial security. She sold her first husband's distillery equipment and she went back to court, the scene of many of her former triumphs. She was successful in collecting debts owed her deceased husband's estate. Then in 1670 she married again, Theunius van Vechten, a man several years her senior. Theunius died in 1685 leaving Hester his modest estate. Even at this time she was conducting business as usual. Her last recorded act before her death in 1690 (no, it was not standing before a judge) was standing before the altar of the Reformed Church of Jesus Christ of Albany at the christening of her grandchild Anna Fonda on February 2, 1690.

Jellis Douw Fonda and family made their voyage to America... Although we do not know upon which ship Jellis Douw Fonda and family made their voyage to America, we can make an educated guess or at least narrow it down. The following two facts serve as a window for the timing:

1. The youngest child of Jellis and Hester, Abraham, was baptized on April 14, 1647 in Amsterdam, Netherlands ("Amsterdam Records of the Fonda Family", The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. 119, No. 1). He was buried on October 28, 1650 according to Amsterdam burial records. ("Famous Frisians in America", p. 108-109).

2. The first record of Jellis (Gillis) in America was in Fort Orange (now Albany, NY) on October 19, 1651 when he received permission from the court to distill liquor in Greenbush, a small village near Albany ("A Career Woman in 17th Century New York", The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, New York, Vol. 95, No. 5).

Typical Schooner of the time.

So we know that the migration took place between November 1650 and October 1651. According to "A Career Woman in 17th Century New York", when Jellis arrived in Fort Orange in 1651, "he was accompanied by his wife, Hester Jans, and three children, a son Douwe, aged about eleven years, and daughters Geertien and Sara, aged about nine and seven years, respectively".

No ship passenger lists have yet been found which show any names resembling Jellis/Gillis Fonda and his family. So, if you look at the ships that DO NOT have passengers lists, maybe we can narrow it down some.

We know that Jellis did not enter into a contract with the Rensselaerswijck Colony (typically three to six year terms of farm labor in return for the ship's passage). He must have been a free colonist, paying for his own ships fare, since he was not encumbered with any work contracts that we know of.

According to the Marine Museum (translated from the original Dutch by Willem Rabbelier and Cor Snabel of the Netherlands, published with their permission on The Olive Tree Genealogy pages):

"The book/thesis of Jaap Jacobs contains a list of about 500 ship crossings between Amsterdam, the Netherlands and New Amsterdam over the period 1609-1675. In only 56 cases the presence, but not the names, of colonists on board is mentioned." (De Scheepvaart En Handel Van De Nederlandse Republiek Op Nieuw-Nederland 1609-1675 by J.A. Jacobs 1989)

There were only 5 ships sailing from The Netherlands to America between November 1650 and October 1651.: 1. WATERHONT particulier Amsterdam 5 5 1651 Nieuw-A'dam 1651 2. BONTE KOE particulier Amsterdam 1651 Nieuw-A'dam voor 13 6 1651 3. HOFF VAN CLEEF Adriaen Blommaert particulier Amsterdam 1651 Nieuw-A'dam voor 15 6 1651 4. GELDERSE BLOM W. van Twiller Amsterdam na 20 3 1651 Nieuw-A'dam voor 31 7 1651 5. PRINS WILLEM Juryaen Andriessen WIC Amsterdam 1651 Nieuw-A'dam voor 19 9 1651

Three had passenger lists which do not list any names resembling this family. The ships in this list which DID NOT have passenger lists are:

1. BONTE KOE particulier Amsterdam 1651 Nieuw-A'dam voor 13 6 1651 2. PRINS WILLEM Juryaen Andriessen WIC Amsterdam 1651 Nieuw-A'dam voor 19 9 1651

Fort Orange - 1635

Explanation of Abbreviations Used:

VOC=Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie * VTC=Van Tweenhuysen Compagnie HCC=Hans Claesz. Compagnie * WIC=West Indies Compagnie Translations of Dutch Words Used:

reder = ship owner *bevrachter = loader vertrekplaats = place of departure aank. plaats = place of arrival datum = date *na = after voor = before *tussen = between eind = end of begin = beginning / early kort na = shortly after *particulier = private owner

So unless there are more ships that we don't know about, you can conclude that Jellis Douw Fonda, his wife Hester Jans and his three young children, Douwe, Grietje and Sara sailed on one of these two ships... the BONTE KOE or the PRINS WILLEM. These are the only ships which fit in the correct time frame, from the correct location and do not have passenger lists.

source: Albert Mark Fonda November 5, 2009

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Jellis Douwesz's Timeline

Eagum, Friesland, Netherlands
November 24, 1641
Age 26
Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
Age 26
Bommel, Gelderland, Netherlands
September 22, 1643
Age 28
Amsterdam, Holland, Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden
June 18, 1645
Age 30
Friesland, Netherlands
April 14, 1647
Age 32
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Nederland
Age 44
Beverwyck, New Netherland Colony