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Griffin FROST

Male 1834 - 1909  (75 years)

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  • Name Griffin FROST 
    Born 14 Mar 1834  St. Clairsville, Belmont County, OH Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 4 Apr 1909  Siloam Springs, Benton County, AR Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Cause: Heart failure 
    • (1) Frost, Griffin, Camp and Prison Journal, Press of the Camp Pope Bookshop, Iowa City, IA: 1994:


      Griffin Frost, author of Camp and Prison Journal, was born March 14, 1834, in St. Clairsville, Belmont County, Ohio. He was the son of William P., a farmer, and Rebecca (Wetzell) Frost. His family moved to Jackson County in what is now West Virginia when Griffin was a boy. At the age of sixteen, he went to Wheeling to learn the printing trade. Thereafter, Griffin, as well as his two older brothers Daniel and William Jr. and younger brother John, were all closely involved with the printing and newspaper business. In 1853, William P. Frost, Jr. started the first regularly published newspaper in Jackson County, The Virginia Chronicle, which he sold to his older brother Daniel in 1858. Griffin briefly worked at this paper also.

      After his apprenticeship in West Virginia, Frost worked his way west, "holding cases" at papers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mount Pleasant, Ohio, and Keokuk, Iowa. In 1854, he came to Missouri and stared at the Sentinel, a newspaper in Palmyra. He married Elizabeth R. Johnson September 10, 1857, in Houston (today Emerson), Marion County, and in January 1859, their only child Annie was born. Frost moved to the town of Mexico in Audrain County around 1858 to run the Mexico Ledger, where he was subsequently joined by brothers William and John. Griffin, with the assistance of John, founded the Shelby County Weekly in Shelbyville on March 7,1861. He gave his paper the masthead motto "Free as the wind, pure and firm as the voice of nature, the press should be." Frost tended to favor the idea of secession, and after the firing on Fort Sumter, his paper came out foursquare for the South. In June of 1861, some irregulars of the local pro-Union Home Guard paid Frost a visit and ordered him to cease publication of what they considered a "treasonable sheet." He submitted, closing down the paper and moving back to Marion County. Sometime thereafter the shop was broken into and the printing equipment destroyed or stolen, presumably by the same Home Guardsmen.

      This incident was most likely the catalyst that led Frost to lay down the pen and take up the sword of the Confederate cause, for in August of 1861, he joined Company A of Martin Green's Cavalry Regiment of the Missouri State Guard (MSG) in Marion County. The regiment fought and lost its first engagement with a group of Home Guards at Athens on August 5, 1861, then joined the main body of the Second Division, MSG, under Brigadier General Thomas A. Harris the following month near Glasgow. After a notable victory at the Siege of Lexington (September 12-20,1861), the MSG, commanded by Major General Sterling Price, wintered in Springfield in southwest Missouri before being driven out of the state by the advance of a new Union army under Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis. This movement culminated at the Battle of Pea Ridge in northwest Arkansas (March 7-8, 1862), where Frost's Second Division, now commanded by Martin Green, played a minimal role. In January 1862, Frost reenlisted in the MSG for another six months and was elected Captain of Company A, 1st Battalion, 2nd Division.

      Immediately following Pea Ridge, the Missouri State Guard was ordered east of the Mississippi River to aid in repelling an invasion of Tennessee by forces under U.S. Grant. Frost missed the Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862), but experienced a few tense weeks south of Corinth, Mississippi, awaiting the slow advance of the Union army, now under Major General Henry W. Halleck. After the resultant Southern evacuation of Corinth, at a time when most MSG units were formally transferring to the Confederate service, Frost's company, now in Mosby M. Parsons's Brigade, was sent back to Arkansas to join a new army gathering under Major General Thomas A. Hindman. Frost traveled slowly across Arkansas, repeatedly falling ill and becoming separated from his command. He and a few companions followed the brigade as best they could, recruiting new troops wherever possible, and nightly seeking lodging among the local citizenry. On November 8, 1862, Frost was captured in Carroll County by a Unionist Arkansas cavalry regiment and brought to Springfield, Missouri. He was in a group of about 100 Confederate prisoners transported to Gratiot Street Prison in St. Louis on December 31.

      Frost was paroled on April 22, 1863, and taken to City Point, Virginia, for exchange. In mid-May, he was sent west to a parole camp in Demopolis, Alabama. A month later he reported to General Joseph E. Johnston in Jackson, Mississippi, who ordered him back to his original command in the Trans-Mississippi. He journeyed up the Mississippi River, crossing over to Arkansas above Helena, which at the time was under attack by Frost's old commander Sterling Price (July 4, 1863). Frost and a companion borrowed some horses and plunged in, fighting alongside the men of Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke's division. Later he found his way to his old outfit under Parsons, which had also been engaged at Helena.

      Fearing another Union invasion of Arkansas, Sterling Price retreated to Little Rock. In the wake of the army went Captain Frost, replicating his meandering march of the previous summer. He fell ill again, this time with smallpox, and was left behind to recuperate. When he finally arrived in Little Rock, Frost met with General Price, who informed him that his company had been reorganized and new officers elected, that therefore he was relieved of further duty.

      Frost connected with several fellow officers who were in the same predicament as he: newly exchanged from prison, with no troops to command, and far from home. They determined to embark upon a recruiting expedition and marched into the hill country around Batesville. They found few candidates for military service among the back-woods Arkansans, however. Frost's group continued north to solicit volunteers in Missouri, but wherever they went they were mistaken for guerrillas or jayhawkers, and military-aged men fled before them. In October 1863, the group reached the Missouri River and built a raft on which to cross. Once on the northern side, they were promptly captured by the Unionist Missouri State Militia and taken to Richmond, Missouri. Held next briefly at a prison in Macon, which he described as "certainly the filthiest place I ever saw" (p. 75), Frost soon found himself back in Gratiot Street Prison.

      Frost's family and friends wrote to him in prison, pledging to help secure his freedom. They urged him to "take the oath," a means of obtaining release often extended by the Union authorities to captured members of the MSG and to those civilian political prisoners not charged with serious crimes. Frost had resisted such advice the first time he was in Gratiot. He considered himself a soldier and expected to be exchanged. But as the fall turned to winter 1863, he came to realize that he would not be released any time soon. Frost was formally charged with being in Missouri without having enrolled in the militia (which at the time was required of all able-bodied men, regardless of their sympathies), and was transferred to Alton Prison on January 30, 1864. On February 1, he was informed that he had been tried and found guilty, and was sentenced to "confinement during the war."

      Efforts continued to get Frost out of prison. Even his brother Daniel, now a colonel in the 11th West Virginia Infantry, sought to intercede on Griffin's behalf with Major General William S. Rosecrans, commander of the Department of the Missouri. In March, Frost was taken back to Gratiot, probably in anticipation of a parole. A month later he learned that Rosecrans had signed an order for his release, but that this had been countermanded and that he was to be returned to Alton to serve out his sentence. did not have the power to remit his sentence. He remained at Gratiot for the summer and early fall of 1864, awaiting a response to yet another petition for release. In September, he was informed that his appeal had been rejected by the Secretary of War.

      Aside from the personal tragedy of the news that his brother Daniel had died of wounds received at Snicker's Gap, Virginia, on July18, and the effects of increased tension among the prison guards due to the rumored proximity of Sterling Price, who had begun his famous 1864 raid on September 19, Frost bore his confinement at Gratiot in relative peace and comfort. On October 3, 1864, he was returned to Alton Prison, where he remained until the end of the war.

      On April 12, 1865, Frost was released by the Union authorities, and he went home to his wife and child, who had been living in Palmyra. Very soon thereafter, the family moved to Quincy, Illinois, where Frost resumed his pre-war profession, beginning as a typesetter for the Quincy Herald. In 1867, he published Camp and Prison Journal, his memoir of the war. He started a newspaper in Quincy known as the Evening Call, then founded another called the Morning News, which he ran until the end of 1873. In January 1874, Frost moved to Edina, Missouri, where he would spend most of the rest of his life. He took over the Knox County Democrat and turned it into one of the most influential newspapers in northeast Missouri. Over the years, Frost became the proverbial pillar of his community. He was a Master Mason, a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and he served on the Board of Curators of the Knox Collegiate Institute in Edina.

      In 1884, Frost returned to his childhood home in West Virginia for the first time since leaving there in 1853. He visited Daniel's grave in Wheeling and renewed his acquaintance with family members still living in the area.

      On December 19, 1878, Frost's daughter Annie married William R. Ringer, a lawyer. The couple joined the Frost household and were still living there at the time of William's death at the age of 32 in December 1884. They had one child, a son named Earle, born March 19, 1880, who was in poor health most of his life. In late summer 1905, after Frost had decided to retire from the newspaper for reasons of his own health, the entire family moved to Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Earle died there on June 20, 1906. Griffin Frost followed the only son of his only daughter three years later, dying of heart failure at Siloam Springs on April 4, 1909. His body was returned to Edina and buried at Linville Cemetery, next to his wife Elizabeth, who had passed away on November 28, 1907.

      (2) The following obituary was published by an unknown newspaper in Edina, Knox County, MO, on Thursday [date unknown]:

      Griffin Frost was born at St . Clairsville, [Belmont County,] Ohio, March 14, 1834. He died of heart failure at Siloam Springs, [Benton County,] Arkansas, April 4, 1909, aged a little more than 75 years. At the age of 16 he entered a printing office at Wheeling, [Ohio County,] Virginia [now West Virginia] where he learned the printer's trade. In 1854 he came to Missouri and worked at the printing business at Palmyra [, Marion County, Missouri]. He then went to Mexico [, Audrain County, Missouri] where he conducted the Mexico Ledger until shortly before the war. In 1801 he started the Shelbyvi1le Herald at Shelbyville [, Shelby County, Missouri]. Later he enlisted in the Confederate army in Company A, First Regiment Missouri State Guards of which company he was afterwards made captain and served under Gen. Parsons. While on a recruiting expedition he was taken a prisoner and passed about eighteen months in Federal prisons. He was re1eased from Alton [, Madison County, Illinois] at the close of the war and located in Quincy, [, Adams County,] Illinois where be worked on the Whig and Herald and where he started the Evening Call. After conducting this paper a short time he formed a company aud started the Morning News which paper he managed until 1874.

      In January of 1874 Mr. Frost came to Edina and leased the Knox County Democrat for one year and at the end of this time he bought the paper which under his able management became the leading Democratic paper in Knox county if not in Northeast Missouri. Mr. Frost edited the Democrat for about thirty-two years when falling health compelled him to retire from the journalistic field. He then removed to Siloam Springs, Arkansas where he resided until his death.

      He was married to Elizabeth Rebecca Johnson a native of Marion county, Missouri whose demise ante dated that of her husband by a little more than a year. To their union one daughter was born, Mrs. Annie (Frost) Ringer, the founder of the Edina School of Music, who survives her parents.

      Mr. Frost was a Master Mason, a good citizen and a kind and courteous gentleman. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The remains were brought to Edina for interment. The funeral services were conducted by Rev. C. S. Rennison after which he was buried with the honors of Freemasonary [sic] in the Linville cemetery.
    Person ID I720  Frost, Gilchrist and Related Families
    Last Modified 29 Dec 2018 

    Father William P. FROST, Sr.,   b. 6 Dec 1791, Frederick [now Clarke] County, VA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Apr 1854, Ravenswood, Jackson County, VA [now WV] Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 62 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Rachel Rebecca WETZEL,   b. 8 Apr 1797,   d. 1866, Cairo, Alexander County, IL Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 68 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Family ID F1036  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Elizabeth Rebecca JOHNSON,   b. Marion County, MO Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Nov 1907, Siloam Springs, Benton County, AR Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 10 Sep 1857  Houston [now Emerson], Marion County, MO Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Last Modified 29 Dec 2018 19:11:43 
    Family ID F1038  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart