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Frost Family (1823-1960) | Saint Louis University Libraries Special Collections:  Archives and Manuscripts

Name: Frost Family (1823-1960)


Historical Note:

General Daniel Marsh Frost was born in New York state in 1823. He graduated from West Point in 1844 and came to St. Louis two years later to join a regiment of mounted riflemen at Jefferson Barracks. After fighting in the Mexican War he married Elizabeth (Lily) Graham, granddaughter of prominent St. Louis businessman and philanthropist John Mullanphy and daughter of Major Richard Graham.

After resigning his commission Frost went into business in St. Louis. In 1853 he was converted  to Catholicism, being baptized by Father Pierre Jean DeSmet, who thereafter referred to Frost as his godson. Frost was elected to the Missouri Senate in 1854 and introduced a bill for the establishment in St. Louis of a state militia facility that eventuated in the establishment of Camp Jackson. Frost was made brigadier general in command of the First Military District of Missouri, which included the City and County of St. Louis.

Frost was in charge at Camp Jackson, located on the present north or Frost campus of Saint Louis University, in May of 1861 when Nathaniel Lyon captured it for the Union. After being paroled from his prisoner of war status, Frost joined the Confederate Army, in which he also held the rank of brigadier general. Worried about his pregnant wife, who had been separated from her children and exiled from St. Louis to seek shelter wherever she could find it, and angry over the discrimination he believed practiced against northern-born soldiers in the Confederate forces, Frost left the Confederate Army and proceeded to Canada. Mrs. Frost had in the meantime been allowed to return to St. Louis, where her husband joined her in 1865 after taking the oath of allegiance to the Union and being pardoned by President Andrew Johnson.

Lily Frost died in 1872, and two years later Frost married a widow, Harriet Chenie LaMotte. This marriage produced two daughters, Edith Frost McLaughlin and Harriet Frost Fordyce. Second wife Harriet died in 1878, and another widow, Catherine Clemens Cates, became General Frost's third wife. There were no children of this union.

Of the children of Lily Graham Frost and Daniel Marsh Frost, several are well represented by correspondence in this collection. Mary Frost Hirschberg and (James) Reginald Graham Frost married in the United States, although the latter and his children spent much time in Europe. Jane Frost Molesworth, Louise Frost Vernon, and Evelyn Frost Beresford Hope all wed well-to-do Englishmen. Caroline Frost Blacker also married a European. Elizabeth Graham Frost, like her mother known as Lily, never married but also lived abroad.

Edith and Harriet Frost, daughters of General Frost and his second wife Harriet Chenie LaMotte Frost, both married Americans. Edith moved to Chicago after her wedding to George McLaughlin. Harriet, born in 1876, wed Samuel Wesley Fordyce of St. Louis in 1900. Fordyce was a son of Samuel W. Fordyce of the St. Louis and Arkansas Railroad. He studied law at Washington University and was later head of the law firm of Fordyce, White, Mayne, Williams, and Hartman. By 1912 he had become president of Pierce, Fordyce Oil, and during World War I he served as general counsel of the War Finance Corporation in Washington, D.C. The Fordyces continued to reside in St. Louis at Hazelwood, the family home of General Frost's first wife that had descended to Harriet's half-brother John (Jack) Frost.  General Frost bought the property from his son and bequeathed it to his daughter Harriet on his death in 1900. This was the Hazelwood estate that Harriet Frost Fordyce gave to the Jesuits in 1952.

During World War I Harriet Fordyce worked with the American Red Cross in France as an ambulance driver and nurse's aide. Upon her return to her beloved Hazelwood she threw herself into the care of her 40 acres and more of landscaped gardens. She and her husband had no children.

The Fordyces enjoyed close connections with many of the Jesuits at Saint Louis University, and Samuel Fordyce converted to Catholicism before his death. In 1959 Harriet Fordyce contributed $1, 050,000 to help the University acquire 22.5 acres in the Mill Creek Valley for campus expansion. The University agreed to rename the north campus Frost Campus in honor of Fordyce's father, General Frost, who had commanded Camp Jackson at the site, and to build a memorial to the general. In consequence, the statue of Nathaniel Lyon, General Frost's adversary at Camp Jackson, that already existed at the intersection of Grand Boulevard and West Pine Street was moved to what is now Lyon Park at the foot of Arsenal Street near the Anheuser-Busch brewery complex.

Harriet Fordyce also funded a chapel for St. John's College in Belize (British Honduras) and a chair of psychiatry at Saint Louis University. She received the Fleur-de-Lis, the University's highest service award, and was named a Foundress of the Society of Jesus, the highest honor bestowed by the order.

Harriet Frost Fordyce died in 1960, having agreed that Hazelwood, whose peace and solitude was being ruined by its proximity to Lambert International Airport, should be sold and the proceeds used to purchase a new retreat site for the Jesuits. The present Fordyce House is located off Telegraph Road in south St. Louis County with a view from the 150 -foot high bluffs of the Mississippi River. It is now used for training, continuing education programs, and as a point of contact for the University with the business and civic communities.






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