Frances Folsom Cleveland served as the twenty-second and twenty-fourth First Lady. She was born in Buffalo, New York, on July 21, 1864. Frances was only nine years old when her father, a prominent lawyer, died in a carriage accident two days after her birthday. At the time of her father’s death, Grover Cleveland, his friend and law partner, became the executor of his estate. Frances continued her schooling with guidance from Grover. The two remained close over the years, and Grover proposed to Frances via letter in 1886, while he was in the White House serving as the 22nd President and she was a student at Wells College. She accepted at the age of 21, becoming America’s youngest First Lady. Grover was 27 years older than her. To prevent Frances from being bombarded by the press, Grover had a 27-acre farm built in Washington for her.
Frances gave birth to four daughters and two sons in a span of about ten years. One of the Cleveland’s daughters, Esther, was the first child to be born in the White House. Frances would become one of the most popular and trendy First Ladies in history to that point. She often wore dresses with her shoulders exposed, which became a popular fashion trend for many women. She also supported the idea of young women pursuing careers in a time period where most jobs were reserved for men.
Following Grover’s second term in office, the Cleveland family left the White House and moved to Princeton, New Jersey, where the couple had two additional children. Five years after the death of Grover in 1908, Frances remarried Thomas Preston, a professor of archaeology at her alma mater, Wells College. Frances died October 29, 1947, in Baltimore, Maryland.