Biography in History of Hancock County, Illinois (1880) - John G. Fonda was born on the Mohawk river, in Montgomery County, New York, March 8, 1822. His parents were Giles Fonda and Maria, nee Dockstader. The Fonda family are of Low Dutch descent and the Dockstader, of German. The subject of this sketch came to Hancock county with his parents in 1835, and has regarded this as his home most of the time since. In 1840 he commenced the practice of surveying with J. Wilson Williams, and the greater portion of his life has been spent as a surveyor and civil engineer, in which profession he is engaged at the present time. From 1841 to 1843 he acted as Deputy County Surveyor under J. Wilson Williams. In 1844, in company with Alanson Lyon, he visited the island of Cuba. In 1847 he enlisted as a private in Capt. Stapp's company of Illinois Mounted Volunteers, and went to Mexico; did service between Vera Cruz and the city of Mexico. At the close of the war, the following year, he was discharged as a Lieutenant. In 1849 he was married to Mary McConnell, and the same year was elected County Surveyor, and settled in Carthage; lived there until 1854, when he moved to Warsaw and was appointed an assistant engineer on the Warsaw & Rockford Railroad. In 1860 he spent the summer in Colorado and New Mexico. In July, 1861, he entered the United States Volunteer Service as a Lieutenant in Capt. B. F. Marsh's Company of 2d Illinois Cavalry. In January, 1862, he was appointed Major of the 12th Illinois Cavalry, and soon after placed in command of Camp Butler, near Springfield. In October he was made Colonel of the 118th Vol. Inf., and in December went with his regiment to Louisiana, where he served most of the time in command of a brigade until the close of the war. With his regiment he participated in all the battles about Vicksburg. After the fall of Vicksburg he had command of a cavalry brigade, and was breveted Brigadier-General. After the close of the war, in 1866, he settled on a farm near Fountain Green, and lives there yet. In July, 1877, he was appointed a Commissioner of the Southern Illinois Penitentiary, and still holds the position. In September, 1879, he was appointed Chief Engineer to construct levees between Warsaw and Quincy, to protect the low lands from overflow. This work is still in progress.
Inscription: Cremation was at Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles, but the disposition of the ashes is unknown.
A government marker, with a Christian Cross at the top, was placed next to the gravestone of his first wife Mary McConnell Fonda on November 8, 2006. It reads as follows:
IN MEMORY OF JOHN G. FONDA BVT BRIG GEN - F&S - 118 ILL INF CIVIL WAR - MAR 8 1822 - DEC 10 1910
(F&S stands for Field & Staff Officer)
General Fonda, after one hundred twenty three years... welcome back home to Hancock County, Illinois.
[Thanks to Allan M. Geddes, Mediapolis, Iowa]
The book "Civil War High Commands" states that a cenotaph for John Giles Fonda resides in Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego, CA.
An article in the San Diego Union dated May 10, 1911 'Headstones for Soldiers Graves' - G.A.R. has received a consignment of gravestones for the following list of deceased comrades, and the same have been distribtued to their respected cemeteries and will be placed at their graves prior to Memorial day. Where the graves are already marked by headstones these stones will be placed at the foot of the grave, thereby always marking it as a veterans grave: John G. Fonda, colonel and brevet brig-gen. US Army - Mt. Hope Cemetery. (This stone has been located in 2012 by Art Loux... photo pending)