Woman of the Century/Mary Alice Fonda
FONDA, Mrs. Mary Alice, musician, linguist, and author, born 21st October, 1837. She is known by her pen-name. "Octavia Hensel." Her maiden name was Mary Alice Ives. She is descended from General Michael Jackson, of Newton. Mass., who commanded a regiment of minute-men in the battle of Lexington. His son, Amasa Jackson, was the first president of the Union Bank of New York, in 181 2. He was married to Mary Phelps, the only daughter and heiress of Oliver Phelps, of Boston, who with Nathaniel Gorham purchased in the interior of New York State from the Indians the tract of land now known as the Phelps and Gorham purchase. Mary Charlotte Jackson. MARY ALICE FONDA. the grandmother of Mrs. Fonda, was married to Ralph Olmstead. of New York. Their only child, the mother of Mrs. Fonda, Mary Phelps Olmstead, was married to George Russell Ives, of New York. Mrs. Fonda's childhood was most fortunate. Her parents were surrounded by literary people. Mrs. Fonda's early taste tended toward literature. In 1865 she became the wife of Rev. William Wood Seymour, at one time connected with Trinity Parish. New York. In 18S6 her books on the festivals of the church, known as the "Cedar drove Series," were published in New York, and have become standard. After Mr. Seymour's death his widow returned to her father's house, but his loss of property during the Civil War and his feeble health led her to go to Europe for study to become a vocal teacher. She never appeared on the stage, except for charitable objects, as her relatives were opposed to a professional life. Before she went to Europe, her "Life of Gottschalk" (Boston, 1870) was published. During her residence in Europe she corresponded for several journals, the "Home Journal" of New York, the San Francisco "Chronicle" and the St. Paul "Pioneer Press" of Minnesota. She held the position of musical instructor and English companion to the Archdukes and Archduchesses, children of the Archduke of Austria, Carl Salvator of Tuscany, and his wife, Princess Marie Immaculate of Naples. After the death of her father she returned to her home in the United Slates and taught music in New York and Philadelphia. In 1884 she brought out her papers on "The Rhinegold Trilogy" (Boston), which had been written in Vienna under the supervision of Liszt and Richard Wagner. After the death of her grandmother, in 1885, she opened a school of vocal music in Nashville, Tenn. She removed to Louisville, Ky., in 1887, where she now resides. In the summer of 1888 she became the wife of Abraham G. Fonda, a descendant of the New York Fonda family, whose ancestor, Major Jelles Fonda, had purchased the Mohawk Valley and from the Phelps and Gorham estate, where the town of Fonda now stands. Mrs. Fonda is one of the most Cultivated women in America. She speaks seven languages fluently, German, French. Spanish, Italian. Portuguese, Roumanian and Magyar dialects, while her musical abilities are marked. She plays the piano, harp, guitar and organ, and is the possessor of a fine voice. She has studied under the best European teachers. Her rare musical accomplishments have won the commendation of Liszt, Rubenstein and other masters. As a critic Mrs. Fonda has won renown. Her musical nature, her superior education, her thorough knowledge of the laws of theory and familiarity with the works of the great composers of the classic, romantic and Wagnerian schools, and the newer schools of harmony, give her a point of vantage above the ordinary. She is prominent among the Daughters of the American Revolution and has in her possession many rare Revolutionary relics. Her novel, "Imperia" (Buffalo, 1892), is a success.