You've all seen the banks that bear the Frost name, but I'm assuming that most of you do not realize that those banks could have begun in Comanche County, Texas. That is they could have if their founder T.C. Frost could have found a way to make a living in Comanche County. Every time I think of Frost, I am reminded of something old Mr. Barrett said years ago. "Anybody who can make a living in Comanche County would be a millionaire anywhere else!"
T.C. Frost was the first attorney in Comanche County. In 1857 when the town of Cora was laid out, it was T.C. Frost who was given the power of attorney to begin selling lots. Frost later went on to negotiate a deal with John Duncan to obtain enough land for the town of Comanche. He was then named the agent of the county to survey and plot the town site of Comanche and attend to the selling of the town’s lots.
Like quite a few other upwardly mobile young men of the 19thcentury who found their way to this county, Frost eventually left the town of Comanche, headed for anywhere it might be easier to make a living…and in those days “anywhere” was easier. His is actually quite an interesting story.
T.C. Frost was born in Jackson County, Alabama in 1833 to a family that was affluent enough to educate him, and he graduated from Irving College in Tennessee in 1854 with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts. Frost remained at the college as a professor of Latin for the remainder of the school year.
At the end of the term, T.C. Frost decided to head for Texas, accepting a teaching position at Austin College (inHuntsville) upon his arrival. According to the 1856 college catalog, Frost was an assistant professor of languages.
While he was in Huntsville, T.C. Frost also found the time to read law with Sam Houston, and on December 26, 1856, Thomas Claiborne Frost was licensed to practice law in the state ofTexas.
For reasons unknown to me, less than one week later, T.C. Frost was in Comanche County, making him the county's first attorney. Of course by 1857, horrible troubles with the Indians had begun, and in November of that same year, T.C. Frost was commissioned by Governor Elisha Pease to raise and lead a company of men to protect the frontier areas of Comanche and Coryell Counties.
In 1858, T.C. Frost served the county as the Postmaster of Cora, and in ’58 and ’59 he was the surveyor for the county; however, he also found the time to marry Bettie Eastland Roberts from Belton, Texas on November 30, 1858.
1860 found Frost living in Comanche with his wife and infant daughter. He owned $5,000 worth of real estate and $2,000 of personal property which was almost unheard of in this county at the time.
Shortly after the census of 1860 was taken, Frost’s parents and three young siblings arrived in the town of Comanche, and I’m sure that they were all extremely proud to see that their son and brother was such a prominent man in the town. However, as is often the case, heartache would invade the Frost home all too soon.
T.C. Frost was elected as our representative to the Secession Convention, and on February 1, 1861, he signed the Articles of Secession. Frost was then authorized to raise a 100 man company to protect the northwest frontier and was appointed its captain. He soon was involved in negotiating for the surrender of federal supplies and property within the state.
Shortly after the war began, Bettie and her young daughter joined many other women in leaving the frontier because it was simply too dangerous for them here. The two went back to her family in Belton to wait out the war. By 1863, the young Frost couple had a second daughter who sadly passed away shortly after her first birthday. T.C. Frost’s parents also lost their lives during the war years as did his young sister, Lucie.
Due to a nagging illness that the military diagnosed as consumption, T.C. Frost resigned from the army in January of 1864. He returned to Belton where the couple’s third daughter was born in mid-1865. After the war Frost knew that being an ex-Confederate officer in a state governed by martial law, his services as an attorney would not be needed, so the enterprising young man decided to look for greener pastures.
These pastures were first found in a freight hauling business, primarily hauling cotton from central Texas to Indianola. Historians seem to believe that Bettie Frost and her daughters lived in Gonzales near a brother at this time, with T.C. splitting his time between there, San Antonio, and the coast. It was in Gonzales that the Frost’s first daughter Lucie died in 1867.
It was also in 1867 that the Frosts once again moved, this time to San Antonio where in 1868 he placed his investment profits into the auction and general merchandise firm of M.L. Fitch and Company, and in 1872, T.C. Frost and his brother, John, bought the firm outright; however, John Frost died just two years later, leaving T.C. alone as the owner of Frost & Bro.
In the middle of all of this, the Frosts had another daughter who died before her fourth birthday, and in 1871 another daughter was born; she lived only a few months. In February of 1873, T.C. Frost and his wife had a son, a son who died that same year.
At times business dealings were probably extremely difficult for T.C. Frost, and during Reconstruction I would imagine that he was possibly unable to use his own name in business because the state was under Union control, and of course there was no way to escape the question that plagued Texas citizens for years: “Have you ever served in any way during the war against the Union?” However, by 1899, and with martial law lifted from the state, T.C. Frost was able to take the bank which today bears his name and obtain its national charter.
We all know this bank today as the Frost National Bank which was founded by ComancheCounty’s first attorney, Thomas Claiborne Frost. (Haynes, David. Character Endures: The Genealogy of Thomas Claiborne Frost. San Antonio, Texas, 2002.)
Have pix of Frost, but haven't had time to get them out.