Sarah Wood Frost correspondence, 1815-1822
Collection Scope and Content
This correspondence consists of 11 letters written by Dr. William Frost to his daughter, Sarah (Sally) Wood Frost, between the years of 1815 and 1822. Most of the letters originate in Havana, Cuba. The subject matter of these letters from a father to his 9 to 16 year-old daughter is largely instructive and includes detailed counsel on such topics as spelling, grammar and hyphenation of words; dental hygiene; comportment of oneself when meeting new people and selectivity when making new friends; the importance of education in music, drawing and dancing; and other such parental advice. Also mentioned in the letters are the emissaries, friends and relatives, to whom he will entrust each letter and parcel for delivery to his daughter; gifts he has sent to his daughter and her grandmother of meats, fruits and other foods from Cuba; gifts of jewelry, clothing and other adornments, as well as grooming and other ladies’ kits; and letters of introduction he has sent ahead on her behalf. Dr. Frost writes of his travels, and refers in each letter to his daughter’s “Grandmama,” who must be Sally Sayward Barrell Keating Wood, his mother-in-law, as his own mother, Mary Nowell, died in 1814.
Sarah “Sally” Wood Frost (12/4/1806-4/2/1870) was the daughter of Dr. William Frost (8/3/1781-5/6/1823) and Elizabeth Walker Keating (11/7/1779-5/23/1811), and the granddaughter of Maine’s first novelist, Sally Sayward Barrell Keating Wood (1757-1855) and Richard Keating (1753-1783). She was born in Portland, Maine, and lived with her parents in Havana, Cuba, until the death of her mother, Elizabeth Frost, in 1811 when Sally Wood Frost was not yet five years old. She was then sent to Portland to lived with her maternal grandmother, Sally Sayward Barrell Keating Wood (“Madam Wood”), while her father remained in Cuba and traveled a great deal to New York, Philadelphia and Boston. She attended school in Boston from the fall of 1821 to the summer of 1822. In 1823, when Sally Wood Frost was sixteen years old, Dr. William Frost died in Matanzas, Cuba. He had retired to his coffee plantation there less than a year before his death. On November 12, 1827, Sally Wood Frost married Stephen Morton in Kennebunk, Maine. They lived at 33 Summer Street and had a son, Edward Watts Morton, born on August 20, 1828. Sally Wood Frost was widowed not many years after the birth of her child (date unknown), and from 1833 to 1855, for the last 22 years of her life, Madam Wood lived at the Summer Street home with her granddaughter and great-grandson. Sally Wood Frost died on 4/2/1870 at 63 years old. Edward Watts Morton became a leading physician in Kennebunk, and died on January 10, 1894, at the age of 65.