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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
James Frost

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[This information is from pp. 421-423 of Biographical Review Volume XXXIII: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York (Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1899). It is in the collection of the Grems-Doolittle Library of the Schenectady County Historical Society at 920 BIO.]

James Frost, formerly a prominent citizen of Mariahville [i. e., Mariaville], in the town of Duanesburg, N. Y., was born in Washington County, this State, August 4, 1783, son of Lot and Temperance (Semen) Frost. He was a descendant in the fifth generation of William Frost, first, a native of Hampshire, England, and a Quaker, who came to America and settled in Boston, but on account of the religious intolerance of that time was obliged to seek a home elsewhere, and accordingly removed to Long Island. He married Rebecca, daughter of Nicholas Wright. William Frost, second, the next in line of descent, who was born on Long Island about the year 1647, and resided there until his death, married Hannah Trior.

Benjamin Frost, son of William, second, and grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was born June 9, 1719, and spent the greater part of his active life in Dutchess County, New York. He married Rose Springer. Their son Lot, father of James, was born in Dutchess County, March 1, 1744. He was a resident for some years of Washington County, whence he moved to Duanesburg, taking up his residence on Quaker Street, a locality settled by the Friends' Society at an early date, and which is still known by that name. His wife, Temperance, was born on August 30, 1744.

James Frost accompanied his parents from Washington County to Duanesburg. He received a good education, and taught school in his younger days, but relinquished that occupation to become a surveyor, in which capacity he performed much work of an important character. He projected and completed a plank road from Albany to Fort Hunter, and drafted one of the earlier maps of Schenectady County. In 1833-34 he surveyed the new line between Canada and New York State, as well as the greater part of Clinton, Essex, and Franklin Counties, then a wilderness. With his associates he camped out for weeks and months at a time. At night the wolves howled around them, and were kept at bay only by fires. That section of the State, the Adirondack region, is now a famous place of resort in summer. In 1819 he began a survey of the east shore of the Hudson River, under the direction of the Surveyor General, traversing the river by sloop and making numerous soundings. He also surveyed the ground for the second railroad built in the United States, that between Albany and Schenectady, and surveyed and made maps of all old Schoharie, besides other territory. In 1835 he surveyed lands in Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth City), N. J., belonging to Messrs. Conner, Bryant & Crane of that place, and Clark and others of New York, and made maps of the city. Subsequently, removing from Quaker Street, to the northerly part of the town of Duanesburg, about two miles west of Mariahville, he engaged in farming, and also conducted a general store. Possessing an unusual amount of energy and ability, which made him especially eligible to the public service, he took a leading part in town affairs, was particularly interested in educational matters, acted as a Justice of the Peace for many years, and was a member of the Assembly three terms. Politically, he was a stanch supporter of the Whig party. Though reared a Quaker, he was liberal in his religious opinions, and in his later years favored the Universalist belief. He died at his home in Mariahville, December 23, 1851, and his death was the cause of general regret.

James Frost married Mary Marsh, who was born in Canaan, Conn., October 24, 1787, daughter of Silas Marsh. She was a good business woman, and rendered valuable assistance to her husband by carrying on the store while he was absent on surveying trips. She became the mother of ten children — five sons and five daughters — all of whom grew to maturity, and two are living, namely: General D. M. Frost, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and now a prominent resident of St. Louis, Mo.; and Miss M. Louise Frost. General Frost had a large family of girls, three of whom married English noblemen. One of them is now living in Paris. The others are in England. Miss M. Louise Frost, who is a lady of superior attainments, resides at the homestead during summer, and passes her winters in the South. The other children of James and Mary (Marsh) Frost were: Caroline, Adelia D., Silas W., Rosanna, James, William M., John S., and Phoebe A. The mother died August 18, 1864. The sons nearly all studied and followed engineering. John S., who was a lawyer, died in 1857.

[Editorial note: This entry was not returned to the author with corrections.]

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