Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, California, taught school in Massachusetts, and died in Vermont, yet he will forever be loved as a New Hampshire Poet. He lived in New Hampshire between 1895 and 1938. His first book was title “North of Boston” and his fifth book was titled “New Hampshire”.
As another nod to his Derry residence, Frost’s eighth book was titled “West Running Brook” after the stream near his farmstead. This fame has caused a collection of things in town to be named “West Running Brook Middle School” or “West Running Brook Lane” besides the actual brook. There is also a Frost Road nearby, and a restaurant named “Promises to Keep.” The land around his farmhouse contains the pasture, country roads and stonewalls found in his poems. Anyone reading Frost’s poetry is reading about Derry, New Hampshire.
Despite being born in San Francisco, his roots run deep in New Hampshire. Anyone from Londonderry or Derry would recognize the places his ancestors lived, for they are all within an hour drive of our towns: Wells, Kittery, Andover, Penacook, Kingston, New Castle, etc. When Robert Frost returned to his father’s home in Derry, he was returning to his roots.
The first Frost of his lineage sailed aboard the Wulfrana from Plimoth, Devonshire, England in June 1634 to arrive at Little Harbor, Maine, and first settled in Kittery. The first few generations of Frosts were merchants, marrying wives from the upper class families such as the Pepperells. Another Frost ancestor married the daughter of a prominent Essex County minister. However, the subsequent Frosts seemed to be farmers, removing from Maine to Massachusetts to eke out a living in our harsh New England climate.
The poet Frost attended Dartmouth College for only two months, and later attended Harvard College for two years but never finished his degree. At about the time of his marriage his grandfather in Derry died leaving him his farm. It was here that he produced many of the first poems that made him famous. He taught at Pinkerton Academy, before finally removing to Plymouth, New Hampshire to teach at the Normal School (now Plymouth State University.) After removing to Scotland and England in he returned to New Hampshire to live in Franconia from 1915. His home in the notch remained a summer house until 1938, but he spent most of this time period teaching in Massachusetts, Vermont and Michigan. In 1940 he bought at home in South Miami, and spent his winters there for the rest of his life instead of in New Hampshire.
Frost loved to read free form poets such as Ezra Pound, but he only wrote traditional poems with rhyming schemes. However, his love of the New England dialect is reflected in his poetry, and his mother’s Scottish accent can be heard in the rhythms of the poems. My favorite poem “The Pasture Spring” is an unlikely love poem, with the speaker sounding just like my own laconic grandfather. I don’t think I ever heard him say “I love you” but the line “I shan’t be gone long, you come, too” could have been his voice.
Robert E. Lee Frost, the Pulitzer Prize winner, receiver of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Poet Laureate of the United States was named after the Southern Confederate General. He taught at Lawrence High School, which was my first teaching job, too! We share a love of writing, residence in Nutfield, and several colonial ancestors…..
Gen. 1. Nicholas Frost, b. 1592 in Tiverton, Devonshire, England, d. 1663; married in Jan 1629/30 to Bertha Cadwalla, b. 14 Feb 1609/10 in Tavistock, Devonshire, England, d. 4 Jul 1650 at Sturgeon Creek, Kittery, Maine.
Gen. 2. Charles Frost, b. 30 Jul 1631 in Tiverton, d. 4 Jul 1697 in Berwick, Maine; married before 1664 to Mary Bowles, daughter of Joseph Bowles and Mary Howell, b. 4 Jan 1640/1 in Wells, Maine, d. 11 Nov. 1704 in Kittery, Maine.
Gen. 3. John Frost, b. 1 Mar 1681/2 in Kittery, Maine, d. 25 Feb. 1732/3 in New Castle, New Hampshire; married on 4 Sep. 1702 to Mary Pepperell, daughter of William Pepperell and Margery Bray, b. 3 Sep. 1685 in Kittery, d. 18 Apr 1766.
Gen. 4. William Frost, b. 20 Aug. 1705 in New Castle, d. 17 Sep. 1778 in New Castle; married 24 Nov. 1750 in Salem, Massachusetts to Elizabeth Prescott, daughter of Benjamin Prescott and Elizabeth Higginson, b. 15 Sep. 1721 in Danvers, Massachusetts, d. 22 Mar 1759 in New Castle.
Gen. 5. William Frost, b. 15 Nov. 1754 in Andover, Massachusetts, d. 28 Sep. 1836 in Andover; married Dec. 1777 in Danvers, Massachusetts to Sarah Holt, daughter of Reverend Nathan Holt of Danvers and Sarah Abbott, b. 29 Oct. 1758 in Andover, Massachusetts, d. 17 Sep. 1841 in Danvers.
Gen. 6. Samuel Abbott Frost, b. 11 Jun. 1795 in Andover, d. 11 Jan. 1848 in Brentwood, New Hampshire; married 18 Oct. 1821 in Eden, Maine to Mary Blunt, b. 26 Jun 1787 in Portsmouth, d. 14 Jan. 1875 in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Gen. 7. William Prescott Frost b. 11 Jul. 1823 in Eden, Maine, d. 10 Jul. 1901; married 27 Sep. 1846 in Kingston to Judith Colcord, daughter of Daniel Colcord and Mary Woodman, b. 23 Jun. 1820 in Kingston, d. 21 Aug. 1893 in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Gen. 8. William Prescott Frost, b. 27 Dec. 1850 in Kingston, d. 5 May 1885 in San Francisco, California; married 18 Mar 1874 in Lewistown, Pennsylvania to Isabelle Moody, daughter of Capt. John Moody and Amelia Christie, b. 16 Sep. 1844 in Alloa, Scotland, d. 21 Nov. 1900 in Pennacook, New Hampshire.
Gen. 9. Robert Edward Lee Frost, b. 26 Mar 1874 in San Francisco, California, d. 29 Jan 1963 in Boston, Massachusetts; married in 1895 to Elinor Miriam White
“Frost Family In England and America, with Special Reference to Edmund Frost” by Thomas Gold Frost, Buffalo, Russell Print. Co., 1909
And from Gary Boyd Roberts, “Notable Kin: Royal Scions in Northern New England: Some Notable Descendants of Joseph Bolles, Elder William Wentworth, and/or Rev. Samuel Dudley,” NEHGS Nexus 11 (1994): 106.
Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo