John Edward Frost, LL. D., of Topeka, Kan., is one of Kansas' most prominent and progressive citizens and has devoted nearly forty years of a busy life toward the promotion and development of Kansas industries. He is the scion of an old English family, the American branch of which was founded nearly 300 years ago by Edmund Frost, at Cambridge, Mass. On Aug. 10, 1635, he and his wife, Thomasine Frost, and their son, John Frost, sailed from Gravesend, England, on the ship Defense, in company with the Rev. Thomas Shepard, the famous dissenting English clergyman, and his sixty followers, for Boston, landing there, Oct. 2, 1635. They at once settled at Cambridge, and the records of Harvard College show that in 1636 Edmund Frost was a member of one of the governing bodies of that great institution. The Frost family, from which the American branch is descended, has been a prominent one in England for the past eight centuries, for authentic records state that in 1135 Henry Frost founded the Hospital of the Brothers of St. John the Evangelist, out of which grew St. John's College, University of Cambridge. The American branch of the family has taken a no less prominent part in the civic affairs of the New World and as its defenders, for the descendants of Edmund Frost appear upon the muster rolls of the armies in every war from King Philip's to the present, and sixteen members of the Massachusetts Frosts responded to the alarm of April 19, 1775, and did effective service at Lexington. The great-great-grandson of Edmund Frost, William French, was the celebrated victim of the "Westminster Massacre" of March 13, 1775, and is claimed to be the first martyr to American Independence. Edmund Frost was born in or near Hartest, County of Suffolk, England, about the year, 1600, was married about 1630, and died in Cambridge, Mass., July 12, 1672. The line of descent from Edmund Frost to John Edward Frost is as follows: Thomas, the eighth of nine children born to Edmund and Thomasine Frost, born about 1647, married Mary Goodridge and died about 1724; their son, Samuel, born Nov. 23, 1686, married Elizabeth Rice and died at Framingham, Mass., Aug. 2, 1736; their son, Amasa, born Jan. 24, 1717, or 1718, married Abigail Livermore and died at Williamsburg, Mass., Jan. 6, 1795; their son, John Frost, born at Framingham, Mass., Dec. 22, 1759, became a soldier of the Revolution and later became a deacon in the church, married Amy Tenant, April 12, 1781, at Williamsburg, and died Oct. 16, 1853, at Evans, Erie county, New York. Rev. John Frost, the eldest son of John and Amy (Tenant) Frost, was the grandfather of John Edward Frost. He was born Sept. 3, 1783, at Williamsburg, Mass., and became a noted divine of the Presbyterian church, in New York state, and an earnest advocate of the abolition of slavery his life to speak out boldy. He was one ihe founders of Whitesboro Seminary, Whitesboro, N. Y., and of Knox College, at Galesburg, Ill., and for thirteen years was a trustee of Hamilton College, Clinton, N. Y., a position to which his grandson, John E. Frost, the subject of this sketch, succeeded sixty years later. In 1813 he was married to Harriet L. Gold, the accomplished daughter of Hon. Thomas R. Gold, of Whitesboro, N. Y. She was born at Cornwall, Conn., July 30, 1790, and became a woman of exceptional culture and education for the time in which she lived. Her father, Hon. Thomas Ruggles Gold, a graduate of Yale College, removed in early manhood from Connecticut to Whitesboro, N. Y., and engaged in the practice of law. He speedily became one of the leading and most successful members of the New York bar of his time. Later in life he represented the Utica district in the New York state senate for six years, and his Congressional district for two terms in the United States Congress until his death, that district being the same which was afterward represented by Hon. Roscoe Conkling and Hon. James S. Sherman. Her brother, Thomas R. Gold, Jr., was the author of the famous poem, entitled, "Twenty Years Ago, Tom"; and Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews, the gifted authoress, is her granddaughter. Rev. John Frost died at Waterville, N. Y., March 1, 1842. His only son, Thomas Gold Frost, was born at Whitesboro, N. Y., May 4, 1821, and graduated at Hamilton College, in 1843, with salutatory honors. He prepared for the profession of law and was admitted to the bar, at Rome, N. Y., in 1846, and there, on Nov. 18, 1847, he married Elizabeth Anna Bancroft, a woman of exceptional culture and refinement and a literary writer of ability. Thomas Gold Frost removed with his family to Galesburg, Ill., in 1857, and became one of the foremost lawyers in the State of Illinois. At the time of the Lincoln-Douglas debate, at Galesburg, he delivered the address of welcome to Mr. Lincoln. In 1871 he removed to Chicago and, as one of the ablest lawyers of the Illinois bar, successfully practiced his profession there until his death, at Las Vegas, N. M., Dec. 22, 1880. He was for many years a trustee of Knox College, at Galesburg, and an elder in the Presbyterian church in that city and at Evanston, Ill., for more than twenty years. After his death his widow removed to Galesburg, Ill., where she died Oct. 13, 1905.
John Edward Frost, the eldest of four childrenJohn E., Louisa, Elizabeth Bancroft, and Thomas Gold, Jr.,of Thomas Gold and Elizabeth Anna (Bancroft) Frost, was born at Rome, N. Y., April 22, 1849, before his parents' removal to Illinois. He was educated in select schools and in Knox Academy, at Galesburg, Ill., and at Hamilton College, New York, graduating with honor in the last named school, in 1875, and receiving the degree of B. A. Later, in 1906, his Alma Mater conferred on him the degree of M. A. and in 1908 honored him with the degree of LL. D. For twenty-six years, from 1872 until 1898, Mr. Frost was identified with the Santa Fe Railway Company, first as district agent of the land department, from 1872 to 1879, then as traveling agent of that department until 1880, after which, until 1898, he was successively general agent and chief clerk of the land department and general land commissioner for that great railway system. Having purchased the unsold Santa Fe lands, in Kansas, in 1898, he resigned, and since that time has devoted his entire attention to his own investments. In 1882 Mr. Frost removed to Topeka, Kan., which city has been his home continuously since that year, and there he has taken a very active and prominent part in its public affairs, as well as those of the state. In 1881 he was president of the Exhibitors' Association at the International Cotton Exposition, at Atlanta, Ga. He was elected president of the Hamilton College Mid-Continental Alumni Association, in 1894, was elected vice-president of the National Irrigation Congress, at Denver, Colo., in the same year, and the following year served as president of that body, at Alburquerque, N. M. In 1898 he was made vice-president and treasurer of the Kansas Commission of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, at Omaha, Neb. During his residence in Topeka Mr. Frost has been president and manager of various successful investment companies, and from 1901 to 1903 served as president of the Commercial Club of Topeka, declining further reëlection to that office. In 1900 he served as a member of the executive committee of the India Famine Fund, which sent a train load of Kansas corn and several thousand dollars in money, contributed to the relief of the famine sufferers by the citizens of Kansas. In January, 1903, he presided at the inauguration of the governor and other state officials in the city auditorium in Topeka, and in the spring of that year served as chairman of two important committees, that of the executive committee of arrangements for the Eleventh International Conference of the Young Men's Christian Association, held in Topeka, and that of the committee for the reception of Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, at the laying of the corner stone of the Railroad Young Men's Christian Association Building in Topeka. In 1903 the Kansas river overflowed to such an extent that nearly half the city of Topeka was inundated and about 10,000 people were rendered homeless for many days. During that calamity Mr. Frost was chosen chairman of the general flood relief committee, and the conspicuous services rendered by him received the approval and gratitude of the entire city. Early in 1905, he accompanied a party of friends from his old home in Galesburg, Ill., on a trip through the principal West India Islands and to Venezuela. In the latter part of that year he received from Governor Hoch the appointment as a delegate to the sixteenth session of the Trans-Mississippi Commercial Congress, held at Portland, Ore, Aug. 16 to 19, and during his attendance at that session was elected vice-president for Kansas for the ensuing year, serving as such at its next session at Kansas City, Mo., in the fall of 1906. In December, 1905, Governor Hoch appointed him a delegate to the National Immigration Conference, held in New York, and he there served as a member of the committee on resolutions. In the spring of 1906 he and his son, Russell, made a trip via San Francisco to Honolulu, Hawaii, and shortly after their return occurred the great San Francisco earthquake and fire. Mr. Frost was appointed a member of the Kansas State Relief Committee by the governor of Kansas, and served throughout that year on that committee, which collected and dispensed several train loads of provisions and many thousands of dollars to the sufferers of that deplorable disaster. In 1907 he was elected a member of the state executive committee of the Young Men's Christian Association of Kansas and is still an active member of that committee, having served as president of both the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh annual conventions of that association, held respectively at Wichita, in 1908, and at Lawrence, in 1909. In the spring of 1908 he was invited to and attended, May 12 and 14, the conference of the governors of the various states of the Union and a small number of other eminent men as invited guests, called by President Roosevelt to meet at the White House in Washington, D. C., to discuss with the President the promotion of the material interests of the states and their preservation. Mr. Frost's business interests are extensive, and among his other valuable city property is the handsome new office and business building at 718 Kansas avenue, which was erected in 1910.
On Oct. 10, 1871, Mr. Frost was united in marriage to Margaret B. Kitchell, the only child of Hon. Alfred Kitchell, of Illinois, an upright Christian lawyer and a judge of unsullied reputation. To Mr. and Mrs. Frost were born six children, all of whom are living, except Mary Elizabeth, the eldest, who died Aug. 8, 1906, and whose character was a rarely beautiful one. She graduated at Knox College, Galesburg, Ill., in 1892, with high honors and with the degree of B. S. She afterward received the degree of M. L. from her Alma Mater and after a postgraduate course at Cornell University and at the University of Kansas, the degree of M. A. was conferred on her by the latter. The other children are: Alfred Gold Frost, cashier of the Mexico City Banking Company, in the city of Mexico; Jean Kitchell, the wife of Charles Sumner Stewart, principal of the county high school, Des Plaines, Cook county, Illinois; Thomas Bancroft Frost, chief clerk and a director of the Davis-Welcome Mortgage Company, in the city of Topeka; Grace Harriet Frost, residing with her parents in Topeka; and Russell B. Frost, a civil engineer in the employ of the Utah Copper Company, at Bingham, Utah. In politics Mr. Frost is a Republican. His church relations are with the Presbyterian denomination, being a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Topeka, and in November, 1908, he was elected and served as president of the Brotherhood of that church for the ensuing two years. Mr. Frost is a man of broad culture and of scholarly attainments and has well maintained the honor and prestige of his distinguished father and illustrious ancestry.Pages 243-235 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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