Boulder County Biographies: Fonda

Surname: Fonda
Submitted by Gerald Adams
Sept 1999

George F. Fonda, Pioneer of Boulder County

Born in Augusta, Illinois, November 6, 1858, son of Henry Dockstaeder Fonda, a Hollander; mother, Catharine Farrell of Pennsylvania Dutch.  He moved to Solomon City, Kansas in 1874, then at the age of 15 on to Denver on the Kansas Pacific Railway as a peanut boy.  Having purchased a suit of clothes, he had four 5 cent shinplasters as his only capital; one of which he managed to hold on to.  At the depot his mother handed him three $5.00 bills.  He arrived in Denver too late to go on to Boulder, leaving the next afternoon  at 4 p.m. via The Boulder Valley, and arriving at the depot on 24th Street about 6 p.m. on may 6, 1874.  The fare was $2.40.  He walked to town, carrying his belongings in a square wooden tobacco box.  He went to the store of his brother Giles, whom he had not seen for eight years; his brother recognized him immediately.  He was conducting a drug and stationery store which later was the Fonda Building, at 1216-18 Pearl Street.  Worked for his brother at $10.00 per month and board; slept on the floor with the dog for company.

Later, the brother moved the drug stock to Leadville, and George continued in business with the stationery stock, and gradually worked into the drug business at the age of 18.  The brother later returned to Boulder and they were again in business together.  He acquired the building and remained in business at that place until 1919.

Married Mary E. Jones November 26, 1879 at Nederland.  Took the Rev. Thomas V. Wilson with him in a two-horse rig, starting at 6 a.m. through six inches of fresh snow.  At Boulder Falls they met a messenger from Caribou who wished the Rev. Wilson to conduct a funeral in Boulder that same day.  They hurried on to Nederland and the ceremony was advanced to 11 a.m. No marriage license was required.  The funeral party from Caribou waited in Nederland until the marriage ceremony was performed.  He returned to Boulder the same evening with his wife.    Started housekeeping at his own home at 17th and Spruce streets, which he had acquired with money presented him by backers in foot races which he had won.  A sister had prepared a supper mainly of oyster stew, and that had been the anniversary supper menu for fifty-two years.

Although he never had a music lesson, he played in the Boulder Band, a E Flat Base Tuba about 1876.  He played in all the events of Boulder and surrounding towns, and took parts in amateur theatricals and comic operas:  Poobah in Mikado; Major General in Pirates of Penzance; Bob Acress in The Rivals; was also in Pinafore.   He sung "The Vacant Chair" at Lodge of Sorrow and funerals for the Elks for thirty-five years.

Joined Macky Hose Team in 1875 and was the first foreman.  For many years took part in Firemen's Tournaments, colcally and in various places in Colorado.  Was famous as an expert plug man, and was instrumental in winning numerous championships for Boulder.  Chiefly responsible for the justification of the slogan "Boulder in the West Test."  At one time Boulder held a Word's record.  In 1878, went to Chicago with Bates Hose Team of Denver.  Won many long-distance races, 200 to 400 yards.  Never bet on himself, but was liberally compensated by admiring backers.  Was Fire Chief of Boulder for many years, under volunteer and paid departments.  Was largely instrumental in having a paid fire department installed.  Always went to fires at any and all times of night and day.

Placed base-ball on the Boulder team from the time of his arrival in Boulder for many years and in various of the surrounding towns; was first baseman.  Played lawn tennis with various of Boulder's expert players.  Played on game of football on a town team organized to give practice to the Varsity.  Hunted big game in various parts of Colorado; fished all over the State, and made trips East to fish on the Illinois River, the Mississippi, and the Kentucky.

Was always a Democrat, became acquainted with Gov. Elect James H. Peabody on a quail hunting trip to Texas, and shortly after the inauguration was appointed a Colonel on the Governor's staff.  Served as a member of the Court Marital in the famous General Chase Court-Martial proceedings.  Served as alderman of the City of Boulder, and was a candidate for County Treasurer on the Democratic ticket.

Served as Director and vice-president of the First National Bank for a number of years.  Built his residence at 2135 8th Street in 1901.

Joined Columbia Lodge No 14 June 23, 1883; Worshipful Master in 1888; shortly thereafter made a Royal Arch Mason and received the Order of the Temple Feb. 2, 1885; Treasurer of Mt. Sinai Commandery 1913.

This page was updated on July 21, 2011

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