The Clevelands

This is the window by John La Farge at Wells College that was modeled on Frances Folsom Cleveland. Frances was the quite a bit younger than Grover and they were married in the White House during his first term. She was very popular at the time- her fashions were copied and the newspapers reported her every move.

In June 1887, Frances [Frank, her nickname] was at Wells College for that year's graduation ceremonies. The speaker was Richard. After the ceremonies, he retreated backwards from where she stood saying: "One cannot turn one's back upon an empress." Me thinks with a twinkle in his eye. She was impressed with him and Helena. Richard was invited to Washington to meet the President, and Frank and her mother visited the Gilders at their summer house in Marion that summer. The President was soon asking Richard how the fishing was in Marion. Frank guided her husband in most social endeavors. The Clevelands rented in Marion and then purchased a house there across the bay from the Gilders and spent their summers there. Richard and Joe Jefferson, the actor, and Joe's son and Grover Cleveland were serious fishing buddies. This probably afforded the wives a great deal of time together.

Portrait of Frances by Anders Zorn

Frank & Grover and the kids.

The Gilders were invited to the White House and saw them in New York when they moved there after the President's first term. They were in attendance at the Cleveland's celebration dinner after his reelection in 1892 and were guests in Washington for his inauguration. Richard and Helena stayed alone in the White House on their way to the Cleveland's country house "Woodley" where the Clevelands had already gone. Richard relates the story in his book on Grover Cleveland and says that upon finding himself in charge of the country, left an imperial order [in jest] on a cabinet member's desk who he knew well.