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Portrait of Mrs. Grover Cleveland
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ldare's picture

Sr. Editor

Age ain't nothin' but a number for Mr. and Mrs. Grover Cleveland.

Frances Clara Folsom was originally named after her Uncle Frank and later switched to the more feminine Frances.

Grover Cleveland, her future husband and President of the United States, was friends with Frances’ father and bought her first baby carriage. She and Grover grew up together ... well, Frances grew up and Grover got old. Frances’ father died when she was 11 and Grover became the executor of the estate. They grew extremely close and he proposed to her via letter not long after she graduated college. This whole thing reminds me of The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer with Jacob the "werewolf" imprinting on Renesmee the human/vampire fetus.

At 21, Frances became the youngest First Lady of the United States when she married Grover Cleveland who was 27-years her senior. When they married they became the only First Couple to get married in the White House (John Tyler and Woodrow Wilson married their ladies at other locations). Their age gap is the second largest between a President and the First Lady; John Tyler is the largest with a 30-year gap. They honeymooned at Deer Park in Maryland.

Like Jackie Kennedy and Kate Middleton, Mrs. Cleveland was always the topic of conversation; she threw two parties a week including one specifically on Saturday afternoons for working women and was known for being exceedingly charming.

Grover Cleveland unfortunately lost his next election to Benjamin Harrison and as the Clevelands were leaving the White House Frances said to a staff member, "Now, Jerry, I want you to take good care of all the furniture and ornaments in the house, for I want to find everything just as it is now, when we come back again."

Luckily for Frances, her husband won the next election against Harrison making her prediction come true and they hopped on a train from New York settling back into the White House with their new baby girl in tow. He also became the first President to serve two non-consecutive terms.

Grover died in 1908 and Frances married Thomas J. Preson, Jr., a professor of archaeology, becoming one of two First Ladies to ever remarry (Jackie Kennedy is the other).

Unable to shed her philanthropic First Lady ways, Frances led the Needlework Guild of America’s clothing drive during the Great Depression.

She is buried next to President Cleveland at Princeton Cemetery in New Jersey.