Perhaps it's ironic that Maze's Hotel in Fonda was destroyed by fire. The building, which had stood since horses kicked up West Main Street's dust and the New York Central's steam engines spewed cinders over downtown Fonda, rose after an 1878 fire cleared the frame buildings to the east, and an 1884 blaze, reportedly set at the behest of a newspaper editor seeking insurance money, destroyed the business district to the west.
Located at the junction of the Erie Canal and the Old Mohawk Turnpike, Fonda has always been a crossroads town. By the late nineteenth century, its New York Central station adjoined the Fonda, Johnstown, and Gloversville shortline railroad, whose interurban streetcars and trains eventually reached as far north as Northville and as far east as Schenectady. Travelers supported a surprising number of hotels. The largest of these, the canal-era Hotel Roy, was destroyed by a spectacular fire in 1909, but smaller establishments quickly replaced it.
In 1880, James Maze, a Pennsylvanian, and his wife Laura were living in Northville. Although James spent most of his later life as a teamster and logger in the remote hamlets of Hamilton County, Laura and their children moved to Fonda about 1890. There Laura eventually became a hotel cook and her son Frank a bartender.