Descendant Host: Jonathan Frost
1847 - 1924
Photograph taken in 1895 when he was a member of the Wisconsin legislature.
courtesy of Broward County Historical Commission Eby Collection - Florida
Please click on the below photo for a larger view.
Original photo researched, owned and contributed by: RITA
MAPLE VALLEY HOUSE
Frostville - Town of Maple
Photo c: 1885
(identification written on the back - name is on the building between 2nd floor windows)
This was the original Hotel (Guest House), General Store, Real Estate and Post Office building of Pioneer A.C. Frost. First wife Miriam is standing on the porch. She died later that year. AC is standing on top the barrel on the porch. Others are their children.
From 1979 Suring School Project
Mountain, Wisconsin "First Stopping Off Place" hotel/guest house (left) and general store (right) were built by A.C. Frost and his family directly across the road from the railroad station after moving there in 1887. He stands alone on the right side of the porch. This became the official post office of Mountain in 1889.
researched by: Mr. Anton Blaabjerg od the Denmark National Archive in Viborg, Denmark and written by author Ib Søby
Timeline of A. C. Frost1847 - born 30th September, probably 1847, in Tustrup, near Aalborg, Denmark
His grave in Dania says 1846 ??
Father: Christian Andersen (1813-)
Mother: Karen Marie Christenadatter (1815-1856)
Brother: Soren (1850-1935 )
Sister: Karen (??)
1856 - 30 July- Mother Karen drowned in accident, maybe because she suffered from epileptic seizure.
7. September - The house, Holmdalshus, burns Down, while AC, father and grandfather are in the field. Soren and sister Karen is in the house but survive.
Maiken in Hadsund have records of invistigation-
Police report about the drowning accident of Karen Marie Christensdatter. The mother of AC Frost.
On Wednesday the 30. July in the morning ,1856,
Karen had a stroke of epilepsy while taking a cow to the
Next day the police are informed and make an
investigation, quite simple, by asking statements from
Christen, the Grandfather and two Neighbours.
traumatic this must have been to AC and sister and brother. We already
know that the children have a very troublesome relation with the
After the fire the children are parted in fosterhomes.
His father marries again with Ane Pedersdatter. half a year after, in Febuary 1857.
AC lives at storemanager Jeppe Nielsen in Tustrup and is educated in storetrade, bookkeeping and mailcarrier. The skills he later use in US. During the years by Jeppe Nielsen he also start to study about “ the new World “ and is determind to cross the Atlantic, but kept his dreams a secret.
1864 Denmark Looses half of Jutland to Germany after the battle of Dybbol, and many Young
men is trying to aviod military service.
AC is now 17 and we know very Little about how he lived and kept “ under the radar “. Brother Soren has flat feet and is not eligible for military service.
1872-73 AC, Soren and Karen are in Liverpool and trying to get over the Atlantic.
AC gives Soren and Karen tickets, and sail with other ship as storaway !!
Changes his name to Andrew Christian Frost ( Frost ?? maybe after an uncle )
1873 AC Works in New York and Springfied Illinois.
Small trade and various jobs, State Capitol, Leland Hotel.
In a wheat field in Illinois he cut his knee with a scythe and is taken to poorhouse, wher he spend a year without his knee healing properly. At some point his call for sister Karen to take care of him. They both contracted Typhoid Fever, and Karen died.
Soren in this period ???
After recover, but with a limp of stiff knee, AC starts out with a horse and buggy and travels as medicin trader
1876 AC arrives in New Denmark, Brown County, Wisconsin and start a general store with Hans Beyer. After one year he sell his part to Beyer and moved up 100 miles to Oconto County together with Marian Gregersen and took homestead in Maple Valley.
Marriage with Marian.
Open store and postoffice, establish post route which he started on foot.
Lumber and logging bussinesses are established.
He erected other buildings, blacksmith, hotel, school in the area called Frostville.
Becomes Justice of Peace.
Son Gregers born 1877.
Son Antone born 1880.
Daughter Mettie born 1883.
Son Martin born 1885.
1885 Shortly after Martin is Born Marian died of Tuberculosis. 11 Sept 1885
1886 AC marries Mary Hansen the daughter of neighbor. 21 March 1886
1887 Possibly 1st return trip to Denmark
AC sold most of his belongings and moved to Mountain, Armstrong township and start from scratch. Again.
Brother Soren settles as a farmer in Wisconsin.
1887 Daugther Lottie ( Charlotte ) is born. July
1888 Mary Hansen died of Heart attack. 9 October 1888 in Mountain, Wisconsin
1888 Marries Cathrine Johnsson 13 December
At this point Cathrine is listed as German and later as Dane. Its due to the fact that Cathrine was born in Southern Denmark. An area which was German from 1864 to 1919 following the War of 1864. Cathrine was Danish minded.
Son Sheridan born 1890
Daughter Mamie born 1891
Son Sherman born 1892
Daughter Dewina born 1898
Son Lincoln born 1900
1893 Chicago World Fair.
AC Forst meets Henry Flagler and other prominent people, but at first he is not interested in their offers to be a agent for them.
During this period AC is involved with taxfights against Lumber industry.(added note: The Lumber industry refused to pay property taxes. The full burden of road building and repair as well as schools, bridges and other township services fell completely on the struggling homestead taxpayers, despite the companies using all the fascilities without expense. As a public official, AC Frost sued the companies, who at one point harrassed him and his family was threatened by company paid thugs who also destroyed his office and papers. But AC persisted and finally won property tax payment settlements in court, thus bringing relief to his constituents. - Rita)
He also took notice of Louis Pio, a Danish socialist who founded White City south of Fort Pierce, Florida. (not succesfull )
1895 Elected Wisconsin Legislature Representative.
AC has now gained a great reputation as settler and businessman and is often invited to visit other Southern States to give his point of view on development combined with Railroads.
He was introduced to Florida but was not impressed.
Starts a sheep farm in Wisconsin with Gilkey.
1897 Meet James Ingraham in Springfield, Illinois, and now more interested in Florida East Coast Railway.
A Railway in Wisconsin was supposed to go through Frotsville and Mountain, but the plans were changed to great disapointment to AC. He sells the Sheep farm to Gilkey.
1898-99 AC and Family moved to Titusville and Miami, Florida, now as a land agent for Flagler and Ingraham.
4th son Martin stays in Wisconsin in Lumber bisiness, and 1st son Gregers is a Lawyer ( educated in Nashville ) and later Mayor of Titusville, Florida
1901 Setteles down in “ Modello, “ Florida, nicknamed for Model Of Land Company ( Flagler )
Again a new start form scratch, postoffice, store etc etc..
1904 Manages to get 30 settlers from Wisconsin to come to Florida and name the new place DANIA
Farming, Tomatoes, etc etc.
School, Hotel, Bank and Church +++
AC is now 57 years.
1907 2nd trip to Denmark according to son Gregers ( to get more settlers from the old country )
1908 Tour in California, Mexico + more with Ingraham.
1911-1914 AC lives in Mountain, Wisconsin.
Son Martin is now in Dania together with Gregers, where these two sons are supposed to take over for AC.
1915 AC back in booming Dania. Opening of Dixie Highway.
Broward County formed.
Over the Next years AC has a lot of political views, and fights concerned the WW1, Catholics and other matters. He write articles to Fort Lauderdale News ( Sun Sentinel )
1919 3ed and last trip to Denmark, alone.
1921 AC spends time in Maryland ( with AB Lowe ?? )
1924 Died in Dania and buried. 12 Feb 1924; burial in Woodlawn Cemeter, Dania, Broward County, Florida
From the biography written for the Genalogical Society of Broward County.Andrew Christian "A.C." Frost was a pioneer to Dania, Florida, and one of a small group of Danes who arrived in South Florida from Oconoto Wisconsin to become tomato farmers.
The name Dania (incorporated 1904) was created to differentiate itself from a town of a similar name in Dade County, and also to pay tribute to their homeland.
AC Frost built the first home in Dania, the first general store (1922) and the first two schools (the first in 1905) in Dania (now known as Dania Beach). He also became the first postmaster of Modello, WC Valentine's development.
AC Frost's first wife was Marian Gregerson who died after about 7 years of marriage, leaving 4 small children.
His second wife was Charlotte, by whom he had a daughter, also named Charlotte. She died of a heart attack and his third wife was Catherine by whom he had 5 more children. Before arriving in Florida, Frost founded a general store, several post offices and worked in a lumber business in Wisconsin. The impetus for relocating to Florida was meeting James E. Ingraham, a vice president with the Florida East Coast Railroad who encouraged colonization of South Florida, as a way to increase the railroad business.
Early Life In Demnark
It is likely that Anders Christian Jensen Frost was born near Balum and Tisted, Denmark, from the brief description of his early years which he wrote in the 1920's. The two small villages are only 3 miles apart. In this biographical sketch, which is the only one found that refers to his early life in Denmark, A. C. Frost stated that he was born September 30, 1847. At an early age he was hired to carry the royal mail between Aalborg and Balum, a distance of approximately 10 miles. Aalborg, a large city in the northern tip of Denmark, was the mail postal station for that region of the country and it is likely that A.C. hiked the round trip weekly to bring in the mail. Balum was a small village amid several other small communities, to the south and slightly east of Aalborg. This was the beginning of a nearly life-long connection to mail service in two continents.
A. C. Frost also wrote that for a period of seven years he held the position of chief clerk and bookkeeper in the store owned by Jeppe Neilson in Tustrip, near Skjorping Station. He left Denmark for North America in 1873 at the age of 25 years, based on his statement that his employment at the store began at age 17. He was skilled in bookkeeping and business management at a young age, and he relied heavily on these early lessons throughout his life.
In his autobiographical sketch, A. C. Frost did not give a reason for his leaving Denmark, a place that had deep meaning to him. The granddaughter of his son, Dink Frost, offers what was passed down to her. A. C. Frost originally had the name of Johnson (that would be Jensen in Denmark). Family legend said that he changed it when he left suddenly for North America. He had big plans which did not include his years of mandatory draft service in the army. A war between Denmark and the aggressive Prussia had swollen the ranks of both Danish veterans and Danish immigrants to emigrate in the 1870's.
Frost was a
of The Danish Brotherhood,
and is credited with introducing the organization into Florida at the
of the century. The contacts and bonds between such fraternal ethnic
members were important, some say essential, to achieving employment and
economic opportunity among the new immigrants. Danish Brotherhood in
was originally an informal and sometimes unrelated group of Danish
organizations. The strongest was Danske Vaabenbrodre (Danish
in Arms) begun by Mark Hansen. Since Hansen
was a veteran of the
Army and had fought
in the Civil War in the U.S., his organization emphasized the military
service members had in
Always a very forward thinking individual; always planning ahead and looking for opportunities, Frost was aware of the value of past military service. That is probably why Frost was vague on his life in the "old country" in the biographical sketch and somewhat altered his name. The first reason was probably not to be caught by the Danish authorities and deported back to army/prison from North America. The second was that if the knowledge of not serving in the military would ever catch up with him here, it would spoil the support he needed and counted on from contacts, in his future endeavors.
New York to the Upper Great Lakes
Known as A. C. Frost in his adopted country of the United States, he used the formal name of Andrew Christian Frost. His first residence was in New York, and it was a brief one, since he soon learned of business opportunities in the state of Illinois. Arriving almost completely without funds in Springfield, he supported himself with working two jobs. One with a construction firm building the state capital building and another doing odd jobs at the Leeland Hotel in Springfield. Neither job offered him the future he wanted to work for.
Using the small amount of savings he was able to accumulate, A. C. Frost wrote that he bought a horse, wagon and "a supply of yankee notions and patent medicines." His original venture took him to rural northern Illinois, and hearing about the prosperous German and Danish settlements to the north, he worked his way into southern rural Wisconsin. There he found a ready market for his traveling goods, especially among the immigrant families.
Illinois to Maple Valley, Wisconsin
settlement of New Denmark
in northeastern Wisconsin, east of the bustling city of Green
Frost made his way there in 1876, but the constant traveling wore on
and he joined forces with Hans Beyer to establish a store in the
of Maple Valley, Oconto County, Wisconsin. He cleared and homesteaded
80 acre parcel of land, courted the local woman and married, Marian
Gregerson, and the two of them built a log home along with a general
By 1880 his single brother-in-law Andrew Gregerson, was living with the
family, listing his occupation as a baker. Frost contracted with the
government to have a local post office in his store and they agreed to
make him postmaster if he delivered the mail free from city of Oconto
Maple Valley. His postal station was named Frostville, and he traveled
the 30 miles once a month, leaving him time for several other
ventures. A good wife and older children minded the store and worked
homestead in the absence of the head of the household. As
developed along the route, he founded several post offices along the
Beginning His Empire - Frostville
education and energy often did
much the same thing at that time in Oconto County. Just as A.C. Frost
done, they built general stores and established post offices in
It was a very smart thing to do! You got to know everyone, and all
of news came to you first (like who was selling property cheap, etc.).
Even more importantly, people had to come to your store to pick up
mail! A tiny sale, like a penny postcard, made at mail pickup time was
good business. Before trains, mail was monthly. After railroads came it
was weekly, so there was time to do your business work and farm as
The government also paid postmasters and that helped. But most other
entrepreneur did not have Frost's "wanderlust" and more often stayed in
the small communities they helped to build.
Always looking for business opportunities, Frost also became a cutter and hauler of logs. From the profits of this venture, he built a hotel, a blacksmith and wagon building shop, a store building, and a large private home. This settlement was officially named "Frostville." His Danish neighbors supported his community efforts by appointing him a member of the Town(ship) Board, Secretary of the School Board and elected him Justice of the Peace.
the Justice of the Peace had greater
obligations then. Frost was an elected judge in small civil and
criminal local township court. Because he knew almost everyone and
it just came naturally.
Mr. Gust BOTY had MESSERSMITH arrested for stealing a stack of marsh hay containing 320 pounds. They accordingly proceeded to Mr. A.C. FROST, Justice of the Peace in Frostville, to have the matter settled. The legal manipulators were Sir J.M. ARMSTRONG on behalf on Mr. BOTY and the invincible Hon. JOSIE C. ARMSTRONG appeared on behalf of MESSERSMITH. After sifting the evidence to his (FROST'S) satisfaction he dismissed the case. The town to pay the costs. Mr. BOTY's attorney intends to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
married couples, and he was often first
to meet settlers. Where did the newcomers go for help and
The local store keeper, postmaster and Justice of the Peace, of course.
Frost knew a great deal about the individuals and families. So with
planned ventures, his early income was derived from the homestead
lumbering/logging contracts with large milling companies, Postmaster's
pay, Justice of the Peace pay, General store income, and rental income
from buildings and property he owned.
Early "colonizers" had to work very hard the first years as pioneer settlers to build up this situation, but it often paid off nicely. A.C. also had lots of capable children to help build and maintain his interests, and that was priceless. It freed him to continue searching for new developments to create and invest in. He was smart, and he was also lucky with his family's strong work to support his many continuing ventures.
Losing His Wife
years after his marriage to Mary
Gregerson, his wife died, leaving him with 4 small children.
Oconto County Reporter printed the following reports:
Frost – Died at her residence in the town of Maple Valley, Friday, September 11th, 1885, in the thirty-third year of her age, Mary A. the beloved wife of Mr. A. C. Frost.
The deceased was a good neighbor, an affectionate wife and devoted mother. By her death four children, the eldest seven years of age and the youngest but eighteen days old are deprived of a mothers love and care. Her funeral services were held Monday forenoon, at the schoolhouse near her home, and were conducted by the Rev. S. H. Couch and H. Berg, the first mentioned in the English language and the latter in the Scandinavian. The funeral was largely attended and a great concourse of her neighbors, friends, acquaintances and relatives followed her remains to their last resting place in the “silent city”. Mr. Frost has the sympathy of all in his bereavement.
FROST, Mary A. wife/of A.C. Frost age 33y Maple Valley, Oconto Co. WI 11 Sep 1885 buried in Maple Valley.
Oconto County Reporter
Jan 30, 1886
—H. C. Frost contemplates a visit to the old country next spring.
Second Bride and Trip to Denmark
there were other pressing personal needs to attend to and he had a
to regather and support. The Pre-1907 Wisconsin State Marriage Index
Returned To Changes In Frostville
in the "old country" had not improved and could not begin to
with the opportunities of his new home. After 6 months Frost stated
he returned to find that many of his Danish neighbors were in the
of moving west, leaving the small settlement of Frostville. Those
in were strangers, and Frost found himself with greatly diminished
was time for Frost to again focus on new developments. The county paper
ran the following report just 5 months later:
A. C. Frost is contemplating a visit to the old country soon, to solicit the emigration of his countrymen to this town.
North to Mountain
Frost moved north from his namesake settlement, to again put his total efforts into the logging business. At that time he also applied for another post office and became the postmaster. This settlement was officially named "Mountain" after the large rock outcropping on which it was originally built. Ever expanding his efforts, several mail routes were then organized, which he subsidized and within the year he had organized the town(ship) of Armstrong (now named town of Mountain). He served as chairman of the Board of County Commissioners of Oconto County and was again elected Justice of the Peace. His new wife presented him with a daughter named Charlotte in July of 1887, who was named for her grandmother Charlotte Hansen.
Loses Second Wife Suddenly
were now 5 children in the Frost household. While washing family
wife Mary was suddenly stricken and died. It was determined that she
succumbed to a heart attack.
five young children and several businesses
to manage, having a dependable wife was an absolute necessity.
Johnson was a local German woman who accepted the marriage and the
Wisconsin Republican With An Agenda
Frost was a diehard Republican while in Wisconsin, but he deeply resented the powerful hold some Republican Party senators had over state affairs, especially the logging industry. Reformist Congressman Robert M. LaFollette had his support and friendship in the effort to fight special interests. In 1895 Oconto County electors sent Frost to the Wisconsin State Legislature where he fought with some success, for the rights of the individual against special interest groups.
During this time, the Frost family had added Sheridan, Mamie and Sherman in 1890, 1891 and 1892. That brought a total of eight children by his three marriages. The family generally managed and maintained all the Frost concerns during his sometimes long absences.
like many, got into trouble when he
was tied down in one place too long. In his memoirs,
W.A. Holt of the prominent lumbering family writes the following about
with an overabundance of energy,
and a strong need to control, Frost got into things that were not his
suits; often leading to the making of poor choices that cost loyal
and financial supporters. Relationships were not easy for him. That
patience, which was in short supply. His sons had the patience to
day to day "people things". After all, they were raised with him and
first hand how to deal with those who could be impatient and difficult.
Passion for starting business interests was his calling card; Frost's
answer to adventure.
Election to the Wisconsin State Legislature Leads to Bigger Things
Florida First Beckons
Once the legislature adjourned in 1895, railroad speculators and owners, prominent men of their time, invited Frost to begin communities along the railroad route of the Tallahassee, Georgia and Carrabelle Railway. The line went from Tallahassee, Florida, to the Gulf of Mexico, and the railroad owned considerable land along the route. Florida was a tropical wilderness frontier at the turn of the century. It was the custom of railroads to colonize along their routes, which increased ridership, the transportation of produce and products, and added greatly to profits. The land along the route was studded with vast marsh, wetlands and swamps which needed draining. The homesteading life was hard and needed a leader who could keep people going when things were difficult. A. C. Frost had proven his skills in this arena.
In Tallahassee, Frost was welcomed to the Florida Legislature with open arms, extending him the courtesy of both houses. What he saw was not to his liking, however, and Frost returned to Wisconsin to plunge into large scale sheep raising with E. H. Gilkey.
Begin In Springfield -
Not to be confined long, Frost journeyed back to his earlier place of residence, Springfield, Illinois, with other Wisconsin legislators in 1897. He had left Springfield as a fledgling itinerant traveling salesman in a horse drawn wagon in 1874 and had returned 23 years later as a prominent businessman.
Always on the lookout for new investments, he became interested in the idea of an electric rail line that would run between Milwaukee and Chicago. The Bluff City Electric Railway had started this project in 1892 but due to financial problems and was absorbed in 1897 by the newly created Chicago and Milwaukee Electric Railway Company. A.C. Frost became president of the Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Railroad in 1897. On documents he listed Chicago as his home residence. Bonds were sold for investment in this new company.
Becomes President of the Alaska Northern Railway
It was also on this 1897 visit to Springfield that A.C. Frost was approached by railroad men from Alaska, interested in his involvement toward building the Alaska Northern Railway. He is recorded as being president of the company already in 1897 and 1898, with another investor, banker H.C. Osborne of Toronto, as vice president. Members of the board were replaced by employees and friends of Frost and Osborne. A look at the names of people working in Alaska for the Frost company in those years reveals many former Oconto County residents. Whole Oconto County families had apparently sold out and moved there in anticipation of lucrative and lengthy employment in this ill fated venture. But for the present, the rail line was growing from the solid and lucrative start it had with previous owners. It was a venture heavily invested in by banks and individuals who bought bonds in the company to the tune of several million dollars.
Becomes Land Agent for Florida Railroad Development Company
During this same 1897 trip to Springfield, Frost was also introduced to James E. Ingraham, who was originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Mr. Ingraham was now Vice-President of the Florida East Coast Railway, in charge of land sales subsidiaries and was seeking settlers and land agents to increase population and production along the railway. Frost wrote that by this time he had quite a reputation "as a colonizer in Wisconsin." Carried into the adventure by Mr. Ingraham, Frost decided to colonize east south Florida.
One important factor in what looked to be sudden business decisions to leave Wisconsin, was that originally the railroad in Oconto County was to be extended to Mountain, Forstville and Hayes, bustling new villages. The railroad had purchased the land for the route several years before the actual work had started, so Frost and other businessmen based their choice of land purchase locations to take advantage of the railroad for commercial advantages. In 1896, after Frost had invested and established his parcels and had purchased more land nearby to sell, the railroad deemed that area too "soft" (swampy) for railroad construction. The depot and line was constructed on higher land some distance away from where Frost owned his properties. The value was lost as the community center gradually began moving toward the depot. This also happened in Lena. In Frostville and Hayes the rail bed was moved east to a swampy little place later named Suring, because land had been donated to the railroad for the depot by a local developer. This spelled the gradual end of these villages being able to compete for population and business without the railroad service.
Florida Living Begins For The Frost Family - 1900 to 1905
Frost returned to Oconto County from his trip to Springfield, Illinois; sold his sheep ranch to his partner. He packed up his wife and children, which by now also included additional son Sherman, born in May 1898, and daughter Dewina, born Jan 1899, according to the 1900 Federal Oconto County Census. The family headed for Miami, Florida in the winter of 1900, where he became a Model Land Company agent to the town of Modello and settled in a prefabricated home there in 1901. Besides the Frost family, the new community had two married couples and three bachelors as residents. Oldest son Gregors, now an attorney who had graduated from the Northern Illinois College of Law at Dixon, did not join in that move, instead settling in Titusville where he became Mayor. In later years Gregors would also move to Dania.
Living was primitive there at best. Frost was expected to create an environment described in Model Land Company advertisements as "a beautiful town site located on both sides of the river (New), with a road passing through the center of it. Trains daily. Has one store, hotel, post office, etc. An excellent place to locate in. Rich fruit and trucking lands all around it, and promises to settle up rapidly the coming year. Lots $50 to $250." In 1900 the thirty miles of coast along South Florida had fewer than 200 residents. The "cities" to the north had between 10 an 25 residents each and the metropolis of Fort Lauderdale had and estimated 125. Frost was 55 years old and he had 10 children, five of which were still very young. Frost was by far the oldest of the area's settler leaders. New families and individuals soon joined the community, some arriving by covered wagon in 1902. Frost developed a small tomato farm in the East Marsh near what is now the Intracoastal Waterway and headed north in 1904 to colonize Modello, Florida.
In 1902 the Frost family had moved into a new larger house and constructed a general store. Frost was made the first appointed postmaster, providing service from his store.
Traveling north to Oconto County, he returned to Modello with 30 adults Danes later in 1904. The newcomers primarily started small scale farming on nearby drained land which Frost was land agent for. That year, the community changed the name to "Dania" in honor of the Danish heritage of many of the residents and was incorporated. There was no jail and the first prisoner was tied to a tree by Marshal Hart, but slipped away shortly afterward. John W. Mullikin was first mayor and Frost became president of the first city council.
Although he seemed quite successful in his own ventures, more and more Dania area residents turned to him for financial assistance and advice especially during the many community get togethers. They were struggling with a very primitive environment they had not expected. Many of the Danes he had recruited became disheartened by the snakes, wild animals, dangerous marshes, mosquitoes carrying malaria, as well as the almost total lack of meat and milk. There were outbreaks of Typhoid Fever, which killed many. Even with the great effort of Frost to extend credit in his own store for groceries, special land term payments to him and other encouragements, many of the Danes and others left northward.
did continue to grow despite these setbacks.
Following the Florida Coastal Railway Company dredging of a canal from
the Atlantic Ocean to the center of Dania. Frost invested in land north
of Dania as it carried a higher potential for future settlement.
Like many others before him and since, A.C. Frost achieved success and financial stability using the skills and experiences he had developed from hard work as a young man. Frost was a proven developer and colonizer of land. He had done so in Frostville and Mountain, Wisconsin. But the temptation to go beyond into "uncharted waters" was great. There were always businessmen, honest and otherwise, calling on the successful to participate in new projects. Promoters were quick to sense that offering an impressive title, such as Company President, was a very attractive lure.
Developments In Illinois Also Took Much Of His Time - 1897 to 1907
While his Florida holdings were being developed, Frost also spent considerable amounts of time in Illinois overseeing his Electric Railroad expansion. At the same time his family was settling in Florida, Frost listed his home residence officially as Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago and Milwaukee Electric made many changes and greatly expanded the small electric line by ordering new, more comfortable cars and and increased the line well north of the city toward Milwaukee. At first the name was more of a prediction than a reality, since the line only ran from south of Chicago to the north side of town originally. In order to increase ridership on the rural stretches north of Chicago, A.C. Frost established and began building Ravinia Park, May 12, 1898. It was to be a tourist destination.
Construction costs were steep on both the Illinois electric railroad and entertainment park projects from the time of Frost's takeover in 1897. Progress was slow on both projects with much waste of money, labor and time due to inexperience, poor management descisions and inattention to details. The Ravinia Park was advertised as "the superior amusement park'' on 36 farm acres running on either side of his railroad's tracks just south of Highland Park. When Frost had the Grand Opening of Ravinia Park on Aug. 15, 1904, he was on his way north seeking buyers for the Florida property. Frost presented his Illinois electric railroad passengers with a grand new theater having its own pipe organ, a pavilion with rooms for dining and dancing, a multicolored electric fountain and a baseball diamond. Frost was sure Chicagoans looking for a relief from the crowded city would come.
The number of visitors to his Ravinia Park, in Illinois, was not enough, year round, to keep the company going. Frost refused shareholders requests to step down as President and by 1907 the railroad and park were the subject of Federal Court sessions for involuntary bankruptsy. By 1910 both his railroad and amusement park were in receivership in debt for $5,000,000 according to court records. This was one venture Frost did not relate in his biographical sketch. Both were bought out by others and survived to succeed. The electric railroad line, called the "Hinky Dink" in Milwaukee because of the sound the wheels made on the tracks, ran to Chicago until the mid 1900's. The amusement park "Ravinia" recently celebrated it's centennial and is still providing entertainment.
His time in Florida and Illinois was also shared with considerable time spent in Seattle, Washington. In 1897 A.C. Frost had also became President of the Alaska Central -- Alaska Northern Railway. Both the Illinois and Alaska railroad ventures had been started and were in service at the beginning of Frost's involvements. Both ventures also were in the process of further expansion and were using considerable public and bank invested funds from both the US and Canada.
and his business partner, banker Osborne
of Canada also owned all the stock in the solidly established Tanana
Construction Company which was under contract to build the Alaska
They knew almost nothing of the skills, continuous scrutiny, budgeting
and management needed for running and expanding a major railroad. They
knew little about construction of rail lines and of running such a
company. Frost also again surrounded himself with company board
management and employees who were known to him, but had no skills or
in theses venues.
James Sargent and John Slattery left on Wednesday for Seattle, where they will make final preparations for their journey to Alaska.
Constuction work on the Alaska railroad had been virtually abandoned by October of 1907; mortgage bond interest was in default. Many of the people who had been recruited in Oconto County and had moved as individuals and families to Alaska, with the promise of lucrative employment, were unpaid as early as 1898 according to court records. Vast amounts of expensive new equipment and materials had been stolen, sold by employees, or abandoned and were no longer usable. Again, Frost had repeatedly refused to step down as President of the railroad and construction companies, or to permit a meeting of the legal shareholders for the election of a new set of officers; certain that he could work out the difficulties on his own. The Alaska road was nearly $8,000,000 in debt. By 1908 Frost was totally unable to accomplish funding of the Alaska projects because of his Chicago dealings as well as not having the time, credit level or contacts to make an effort to otherwise finance the businesses.
A letter publish in the newspapers written by stockholder John E. Ballaine in Seattle, Washington, March 31, 1911 gives his take on the condition of the Alaska railroad project as it evolved from the purchase by Frost and Osborn. Mr. Ballaine had filed a petition for a receiver in May of 1908 for the failing Alaska Central Railway company, only to find by that year, Frost was in deep financial trouble in Chicago. Frost was individually in the hands of a receiver appointed by the US Court there and all the corporations formerly controlled by him in Wisconsin and Illinois were now in the hands of receivers. Judgments of thousands of dollars had been made against him there and he was in involuntary bankruptcy. He had refused to step down as President of the failing electric railroad company until removed by law, was $17,000,000 in debt and all his Wisconsin and Illinois assets were tied up in court.
To compound his problems, Frost had lost significant additional personal funds in a 1904 swindle perpetrated by a former employee. It involved Frost's, and many others', investment of large sums of money in an Alaska coal mining property and development scheme. Coal was needed in the running of the steam engines used to move trains and power other equipment that railroad construction used. Having it's own ready source and supply of local coal was an intelligent business move. Frost's and other investors' monies were never used on the development of the Matauska district coal mining project and disappeared.
According to the John E. Ballaine account, Frost's swindler had also passed himself off, for a time, as appointed by railroad President A.C. Frost to function as general manager in his absence. He wasted no time moving into the general manager's role and office in Alaska. He had made illegal contacts with individuals and companies in the name of the railroad and received considerable "kickbacks" before being exposed. He was not prosecuted by Frost, it was learned later, because he threatened Frost with "exposure" as being at the root of the mining swindle and all his locations to the danger of cancellation. Frost was a victim as much as any other investor in the swindle, but his other financial problems made him afraid that he would be blamed as a perpetrator. Frost was removed from the Alaska railroad and construction companies by involuntary bankruptcy during US Court proceedings held 1911 in Seattle. The court proceedings ended in 1914.
Little Told Of Those Years
his autobiographical sketch, from 1907 to
1914 Frost claimed to have caught the travel bug which began with a six
month tour of Europe accompanied by his son Gregors. Returning for only
a short while, he wrote that he went on to spend several months
Mexico and California, ending this trip with a visit to an exposition
Seattle, Washington in 1911. Frost made no mention of his considerable
time spent, during those years, in Illinois and US dealing
railroad involvements and court hearings. It is not known if he
visited Europe, Mexico or California. He said that he found no
that appealed to him in these journeys and returned to Dania with the
to establish the Bank of Dania which opened in 1912.
Back to Oconto County, Wisconsin
Frost, at age 64, had left Dania
in 1911 for Oconto County, Wisconsin hoping to restore his health from
illness he was said to suffer. He was welcomed back by old friends and
elected to the chairmanship of the Town Council of Oconto for two
He also served on Oconto County's Board of County
a term and helped organize the Farmers Bank of Oconto. He purchased
and operated several successful businesses on them. Once his health was
restored, and the bankruptsy court hearing were finished, he
his Oconto County investments in 1914 and returned to Dania, where a
new set of careers awaited him.
absent much of the time between 1907
and 1914, Frost had retained ownership of all his property and
in Dania. Son Martin C. Frost led his other sons in the continued
of their father's holdings. To add to this activity, Frost himself
several smaller development schemes during short visits to Dania. The
and development of land was a gold mine for the family. Frost was back
in time to put in the 1914 - 1915 winter tomato crop and the opening of
the modern Dixie National Highway through Dania. It was the first paved
road constructed along Florida's east coast and direct route from
to Miami. An independent Broward County was formed with his assistance
and support, more canals were built and lands drained for sales by
and developers to crop farming buyers. State highways, Democratic
candidates and building a tomato factory were projects that enjoyed
being in one place for any length of
time seemed to bring a considerable degree of conflict to Frost's
He was a man of sometimes rigid beliefs and not likely to keep them to
himself. He lead an anti Catholic movement that cost people their jobs
and homes. There was his need to support the Model Land Company in
they had not paid their drainage taxes. Frost now wanted former very
friend Senator La Follett of Wisconsin banished from serving in the
Senate for his opposition to World War I and branded him a disloyal to
his country, as well as applauded at the tarring a feathering of R. C.
Laycock after he spoke opposing America's involvement in the war in the
neighboring village of Davies.
Frost had indicated his extremely pro-American patriotism earlier by naming his last group of children after past prominent Americans; Sherman, Sheridan (military generals), Lincoln, Mamie and Dewina, the youngest after Admiral George Dewey. Frost was anti European government just as strongly. The Milwaukee Sentinel printed his letter to them on February 1, 1918 in which he described at great length how German sympathizers in a New Jersey food company that had tried to poison American loggers in Oconto County, Wisconsin and put ground glass in the peanut butter jars it sold in Dania. He went on to support the execution of anyone not supporting the American War effort. in late 1918 and early 1919 Frost engaged in a lengthy, fierce public struggle with former long time friend and financial supporter, Banker M. C. Hardee about donations going toward hastening "bringing the boys home" requested by President Wilson of private organizations.
After serving on the Broward County Board of Commissioners in 1921, Frost was said to have left for Maryland, without explanation, during the great Florida Land Boom. It may have had something to do with one remaining long time friend's recent move to Chesterton, Maryland, Commissioner A.B. Lowe. The following three years in Maryland have no clear description. He was said to have founded the town of Frostburg in the western portion of that state, however, according to the US Census Renumerations, that sizable city was named and established long before A.C. Frost came to America.
was again reported as being quite ill
those final years. It is known that he spent considerable time during
three years in Oconto County, Wisconsin. Again, in his
W.A. Holt of the prominent lumbering family, writes the following about
died in Dania in 1924. He is buried in
Key persons in AC life:
Jeppe Nielsen, Tustrup, Aalborg, Denmark
Mark Hansen, Danish Weaponbrothers, the link between Denmark and US
Hans Beyer, settler in Wisconsin
W. A. Holt, settler in Wisconsin
Thomas Kennedy -doctor and friend
Robert LaFollette, Congresman. - Wisconsin
Senator Whitee - Wisconsin
Govenor Scofield - Wisconsin
Henry Flagler- rail
James Ingraham -rail
Julia Tuttle -settler in Miami, Florida
Napoelon Broward - father of Broward County, FloridaResources used:
Broward County Historical Commission Eby Collection (The Broward Historical Society is tempoary closed, and the Collection is moved to the 6th floor on Downtown Ft. Lauderdale Libuary.)
Broward County Historical Commission Frost-Clark collection
Summer/Fall 1979 Broward Legacy article on "Dania - A.C. Frost Founding Father"
Oconto County, Wisconsin - Plat and Altas Maps
Oconto County, Wisconsin - Federal Census Renumerations
Broward County, Florida - Federal Census Renumerations
US Federal Court Records
The Oconto County Reporter - Newspaper
Seattle Times - Newsapaper
Memoirs of W.A. Holt
John E. Ballaine - Published Newspaper Letter "Alaska Central - Alaska Northern Railway" March 31, 1911
History of the Danish Brotherhood in America
Centennial of Ravinia Park, Highland Illinois - pamphlet
History of the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric Railroad
The History of Alaska Railroads