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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Fenton G. Diefendorf

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 445-446 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Fenton G. Diefendorf, senior member of the firm of F. G. Diefendorf & Son of Fort Plain, whose book and stationery store is one of the popular establishments of the village, is a native son, his birth having taken place here in July, 1869. His father, Ephraim G. Diefendorf, was a native of Sharon Springs, Schoharie county, and in early life a farmer of that region. Later he became associated with a wholesale grocery firm of Albany, for whom he traveled on the road for years. In 1865 he took up his residence in Fort Plain, which was his home until his death in 1883. Mr. Diefendorf's mother, also a native of Sharon Springs, was Mary A. Leake before her marriage. She, too, is now deceased, her death taking place March 6, 1896. The Diefendorfs are one of the old families of the Mohawk valley, having been established here about 1730, when two brothers, John and Jacob, came to America from Holland. Many of the members participated in the Revolutionary war and the successive generations have each contributed to the growth and development of this fertile valley. A more extended account of the genealogy of the family will be found elsewhere in this work, in connection with the biography of Mr. Diefendorf's older brother, Willis E. Diefendorf.

Fenton G. Diefendorf has spent his entire life in Fort Plain, obtaining his education in the local schools. When he laid his textbooks aside it was to take on new literary companions, for he entered at once into the store of his brother, Willis, who carried a large stock of books and stationery, and has been there ever since. This store was opened by the older man nearly fifty years ago and has been managed by one of the two brothers ever since, while Mr. Diefendorf's son's interest in the business has carried it down to the next generation. In 1903 Fenton G. Diefendorf, in partnership with Mr. Waters, bought the business from Willis E. Diefendorf. The two men conducted the store successfully until the partnership was severed by the death of Mr. Waters in 1918. At that time Victor Z. Diefendorf, son of Mr. Diefendorf, purchased Mr. Waters' share in the business from his heirs and has been associated with his father ever since, under the firm name of F. G. Diefendorf & Son.

On the 21st of October, 1891, Mr. Diefendorf was united in marriage to Miss May Zoller and they have one son: Victor Z., born in July, 1892. In July of 1918 Victor Diefendorf joined the United States military service as a member of the Three Hundred and Forty-seventh Hospital Corps, Eighty-seventh Division. After spending one month in training in camp in this country he was ordered overseas, where he was on duty until shortly before he was discharged from the army in June, 1919. In March, 1918, Mr. V. Z. Diefendorf was married to Ruby A. Hubble, and they have become the parents of a son Robert Hubble, born October 31, 1920. This is Mr. F. G. Diefendorf's only grandchild and, needless to say, the joy and pride of his life.

For many years Fenton G. Diefendorf has been recognized as one of the leading members of the Fort Plain Club, to which most of his friends and associates belong. He is a Mason, his affiliations being with Fort Plain Lodge, No. 433, A. F. & A. M., and a member of the Methodist Episcopal church of Fort Plain, on whose official board he is now serving. Like his brother he supports the candidates and principles of the republican party. High standards of integrity and honor have always characterized Mr. Diefendorf's business affairs and as a result he has reaped a substantial reward. Today he is one of the outstanding merchants of his village and a citizen respected and honored by all, both by those with whom he has business relations and by those whose association with him is purely social.

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