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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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FROST, SHEPHERD JOHNSON (1788-1853)

FROST, SHEPHERD JOHNSON, carpenter, building contractor, and architect; b. Lee, N.H., 1788, s/o Winthrop Frost and Sarah Tuttle; m. 1st, 1812, Emily Ackerman, of Lee; 2nd, Mary Carter, of Dorchester, N.B., and 3rd, 1842, Jane (McRae) Cant, wid/o Andrew Cant, of Chatham parish; d. Chatham, 3 Jul 1853.

Three years after he was married, and following the birth of his second child, Shepherd J. Frost of the town of Lee, N.H., "became bankrupt, deserted his wife and family, [and] fled to New Brunswick." The census of 1851 gives his arrival date as 1816, but little is known about his first six years in the province. He bought land at Dorchester in 1822, and at about the same time drew the plans for the little church of St Martin's-in-the-Woods at Shediac Cape, N.B. He no doubt designed and constructed other buildings in Westmorland County, but further records have not come to light. He remained in the county until 1825 and may have moved to the Miramichi after the Fire that fall, or in the spring of 1826. In May 1827 he and his wife, Mary Carter of Dorchester, who are not known to have been formally married, had a daughter and a son baptized in the Anglican church at Chatham.

Frost was occupied for a number of years at the construction of both public and private buildings on the Miramichi. In 1828-29 he and Gavin Rainnie had the contract for the erection of the 'Old Courthouse' at Newcastle and were paid by the Court of Sessions for both the plans and specifications and the construction work. In 1829 they erected a second courthouse, of almost identical design, at Richibucto. In 1830-31 they built the first Methodist chapel in Chatham, and in 1831-32 the first St John's Presbyterian Church. The chapel could seat 600 persons and was said to be "inferior to no Methodist house of worship in the province." The Gleaner described St John's as "a neat and commodious building, in the Gothic style, with a square tower," and declared it to be "a great ornament to Chatham." In 1832 Frost & Rainnie drew up plans and specifications for a quarantine station which was to be erected on Sheldrake Island. Soon afterwards, their partnership was terminated and Rainnie, who had gotten involved in various other lines of business, left the building construction field.

Frost and John Petrie were the designers of the structure needed to house the huge steam sawmill which Joseph Cunard built in Chatham in 1835-36, and Frost and John Carter were in charge of its construction. At a public inspection and feast for more than 300 persons held prior to the opening of the mill in July 1836, the architects, Frost and Petrie, were chaired through the streets of Chatham by a jubilant throng.

In 1837 Frost and Thomas Hodgson were awarded the contract to erect St Mary's Chapel in Chatham, which was "a smaller copy of the Parish church, St Paul's." Shortly before the construction was finished Hodgson was killed by a falling plank. Two years later Frost announced that he was leaving the construction business. Until 1841 he was a partner, if not an active participant, in Benjamin Miller & Co., a small painting and decorating firm. He was later the partner of Hugh F. Bain in the operation of the Cunard grist mill and sawmill at Chatham.

"Mary, consort of Mr S. J. Frost," came to her death in April 1840, at age thirty-seven, following the birth of her eighth child. In March 1841 the Halifax newspapers announced the marriage at Sackville, N.B., of "Shepherd J. Frost of Chatham, Miramichi, to widow Hardwin, relict of the late Captain Hardwin, of New York." No official record of this marriage has been found, and it appears doubtful that it actually occurred. Frost was officially married by the Rev. Samuel Bacon in December 1842 to Jane (McRae) Cant, the twenty-two year old widow of Andrew Cant. Seven children were born of this union, the last only a few months before Frost's death in 1853, at age sixty-five. His many survivors included his ninety-seven-year-old mother, Sarah Tuttle, and his "legitimate widow," Emily Ackerman, who outlived him by nine years.

Sources

[b/m] Douglas [d] Gleaner 4 Jul 1853 / Fraser (C); Frost family data; Gleaner 2 Aug 1831, 21 Aug 1832, 1 Jan 1833, 19 Apr 1836, 12 Jul 1836, 30 Apr 1839, 5 May 1840, 20 Apr 1841, 27 Jan 1851; Johnson; Leader 28 Jul 1993; Spray (DK); Times (Halifax) 9 Mar 1841; World 13 Jun 1885


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