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  Frances Cleveland

by John T. Marck

First Lady: 1886 to 1889 and 1893 to 1897

Wife of President Grover Cleveland

Born: July 21, 1864 Died: October 29, 1947

Frances Folsom was born in Buffalo, New York. Her father, Oscar Folsom was killed in an accident. Oscar was the friend and law partner of Grover Cleveland, and thus Cleveland, handled the settlement of Folsom's estate. Cleveland took an interest as guardian in his widow as well as his eleven year old daughter, Frances. When Frances grew into a beautiful woman, Grover's interest turned romantic. With permission from her mother, Grover began writing to Frances, however did not propose until she graduated from college. By this time, Cleveland had entered his first year as President. Upon her graduation, Frances accepted his proposal, but agreed that it should be kept secret until the last possible moment. In May, 1886, they decided to be married on June 2 at the home of her grandfather, however he died on June 2, 1886. Grover, learning of her grandfather's death, planned for the wedding to take place at the White House. So on June 2, 1886, Grover and Frances were married at the White House, in the Blue Room, before their families and twenty-eight of Cleveland's top officials. This wedding was the first and only time a President was married in the White House. Following their wedding they honeymooned in Deer Park, Maryland.

During President Cleveland's first term, Frances was often mobbed by crowds, as she was considered at the time to be the Nation's most beautiful and glamorous woman. Frances did not enjoy being a public person, and managed to stay out of the White House most of the time, with the exception of the official winter season.

Frances and Grover had five children, the first of whom died at the age of twelve. Frances, as mistress proved to be an excellent one. Her parties and receptions were considered superior.

When Cleveland's second term ended in 1897, they retired to a large house in Princeton, New Jersey, naming it "Westland." Grover lived there happily until his death in 1908. Five years later, Frances remarried to a Princeton professor named Thomas Preston.

Frances died in Baltimore, Maryland on October 29, 1947.

Copyright 1990-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. From The First Ladies of the Unites States by John T. Marck.