Museum logo

Object Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Title Frances Clara Folsom Cleveland (Preston)
Collection First Lady Dolls
Catalog Number 2015.017.024
Description Frances Folsom Cleveland (1864-1947)
Wife of President Grover Cleveland - First Lady from 1885-1889, and 1893-1897

Frances Clara Folsom was born July 21, 1864.
Frances married [Stephen] Grover Cleveland on June 2, 1886 in the Blue Room of the White House. She was 21 years old. Frances Folsom Cleveland was the youngest presidential wife and only First Lady who was married in the White House. She was said to be taller than 5' 7" with black hair and dark blue eyes.
Despite the President's best efforts "Frankie" (as she was called in the popular press, a nickname she disliked) became an instant celebrity. She was so mobbed by admirers at public events that the President feared for her safety.
To handle the large amount of correspondence she received, Frances hired a college friend, Minnie Alexander to serve as her social secretary, the first non-family member to fill such a position for a First Lady.
Frances Folsom Cleveland did not participate in the 1884 election of her future husband; she did not attend the 1885 Inauguration because she could not get permission to take leave time as she completed her last year at Wells College.
Becoming the only former First Lady to return to the position four years later, Frances Cleveland was a different woman in 1893, now 28 years old and a mother of three. She continued to perform her public role of First Lady with a balance of warmth toward citizens of all races and classes and a regal social demeanor.
Following her permanent departure from the White House in 1897, she joined the former President and their children in creating a new life in Princeton, New Jersey. They had six children; four daughters and two sons. Esther Cleveland is the only child of a President who was born in the White House.
A year after her last child was born, 12-year old Ruth died of diphtheria in 1904 and Frances sank into a severe depression. Four years later Grover Cleveland died, leaving her a 44 year old widow with five children.
She met an art history professor, Thomas Jex Preston, Jr. at Wells College where she was a Trustee. He became her second husband on February 10, 1913.
Frances Folsom (Cleveland) Preston died October 24, 1947. She lived for a longer period of time after leaving the White House (51 years) than any other First Lady.
Event Bicentennial First Lady Doll Exhibit - Community Project
Creator Park, Phyllis Juhlin
Costume Costume by Ethel Ford
Given Given by the C.J. Neal family in honor of Essie A. Christie Neal
Source Uintah County Library