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History of Peninnah(Pennina) Jane Smith and McCaslin Frost

Recreated by John Shaw
September 1998

Credit goes to those who have previously written these histories. One family that I know deserves credit is Sylvia and Meshach Adams Terney. Also Julie Rawlins and the Rawlins family organization has done and continues to do a lot...Thanks.... Also note: This history will be written again in the future, hopefully with more documentation...

McCaslin FrostMcCaslin Frost

McCaslin Frost was the son of James and Isabella Van Dyke Frost. He was born on December 10, 1785 in Richland, Rockingham County, North Carolina. He was the forth child in a family of nine children - seven boys and two girls. Jonas, John, Samuel, James, Ezekiel, Nickles, McCaslin, Rachel and Sarah.

Little is known of the early life of McCaslin Frost. He was born just a few years after the Revolutionary War and most of his life was spent under pioneer conditions in five state of the union where he resided - North Carolina, Tennessee, Iowa, Illinois and Utah.

McCaslin was medium build, tall and slender, blue eyes and light complexion. He was humorous, kind and sympathetic and of a jovial disposition. Judging from the childhood experiences related to his grandchildren when they were small, McCaslin's father must have owned some Black slaves. The Black slaves called him "Massa" and went to him with their troubles, sure of sympathy and understanding. But he couldn't always resist the opportunity of playing some harmless prank on them when the occasion presented itself.

The Frosts belonged to the Methodist Church and according to tradition McCaslin's father was of English descent and his wife was Dutch. The family was all musical and sang many old folk songs, some of which are known to have been old English Folk songs. McCaslin's father made a violin and promised it to the first one of his boys who learned to play it. McCaslin won the violin and many years later he gave it to one of his grandsons, who played it at many pioneer dances and entertainments (after they came to Utah). All the family could sing, dance and play. McCaslin's oldest son, Samuel B. Frost could "fiddle", step dance and sing, all at the same time and still not be short of breath.

Peninnah SmithPennina Smith

Pennina Smith was born on February 1, 1794, the daughter of John Smith and Margaret Brown, in Wayne County, North Carolina. There were five children in the Smith family, three girls and two boys. Pennina was the fourth child. The other children were: Nancy, Stephen, Jesse and Fereba.

After the death of her mother, Pennina lived with an aunt. When the aunt died, she made her home with James and Isabel Frost, who were probably old friends of her parents. She remained in the Frost home until she was almost sixteen years of age.

During this time she must of become fond of their son McCaslin because on November 28, 1809, when McCaslin Frost was 23 years old he married Pennina Smith who was not quite 16 years of age. They were married in Johnson County, North Carolina.


Pennina and McCaslin Frost made their home in Knox County Tennessee near Knoxville, the main city in the eastern part of the state. This is a mountainous region and had been settled only a short time when they were married. They lived on a river or possibly a creek at the foot of the hill below their house there was a wonderful cold spring. They built a room over this spring and used it not only for drinking water and culinary purposes but also for refrigeration of their dairy products. Their crocks of milk, butter and cheese were kept in excellent condition.

Here in Knox County all of their eight children were born with the exception of the first two, Samuel and Nancy, who were born in Wake County, North Carolina before they moved from that state.

Times were hard in the1830s, so their oldest son Sam went north for a winter and secured work. While he was away he met some L.D.S. missionaries who converted him to Mormonism. When he returned home for a visit he explained the principles of the gospel to his father's family and they were all converted as well as many of their neighbors. This was probably about the winter of 1840-41. After becoming interested in the Mormon church, McCaslin was eager to join the saints in Illinois. John Bright was one of the neighbors that was converted to the church. He kept a diary of their journey up the Mississippi River. It isn't known just when McCaslin and his family left their home in Knox County and began their journey. They first went to Memphis where McCaslin worked for a short time before beginning their journey to Iowa and Illinois. After their arrival in Jefferson County, Iowa McCaslin and Pennina Frost were baptized by their son Samuel B. Frost. They had waited to joint the church until their son could perform the ceremony. They were baptized on August 31, 1941. Samuel had also baptized other members of the family. He had gone to Bear Creek Branch, Illinois and baptized his sister Martha and several others in February 1841 in the Bear Creek. The stream was frozen over and they had to cut a hole in the ice before the baptisms could be performed.

To retrace some history of McCaslin and Pennina's children, on August 7, 1834 Samuel B. Frost was married to Rebecca Foreman in Hancock County, Illinois when 24 years of age. In 1842 he did missionary work in Jefferson County, Iowa and in May 1844 he was called on a mission to the state of Kentucky. He was ordained an Elder in Nauvoo in November 1844. McCaslin and Pennina's other son, James William died in October 1834. Also five years before he died, his sister Mary Ann had died when she was ten years old. Isabelle was married about 1834 to Wiley Jones, who was also a native of Tennessee. Nancy was married to Archibald Kerr of Knoxville May 1833. Fereba was married in Fairfield, Iowa to William Harrison Barger about 1837. He was a native of Indiana. Martha was the sixth child and was married in Jefferson County, Iowa in 1840. Of the Six of the McCaslin & Pennina children to grow to adulthood, all were married and five of them came west and made their home sometime during the westward migration. Four joined the Mormon Church.

At the time of the Martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith the Patriarch on June 27, 1844, the Frost family was living about five miles from Cathage jail. When word reached the people of the ruthless murder of their beloved Prophet and his brother, they could hardly believe it and sent messengers to investigate.

It was a crushing blow to the Saints and almost more than they could endure. But they listened to those in authority, although they could have called out the Nauvoo Legion to avenge the deaths of their leaders, they allowed their enemies to go in peace and waited for the law to punish the assassins. The Frost family could see from the doorway of their home the smoke from other Mormon villages which were being burned by mobs. McCaslin and Peninna moved their family from this home soon after this time. Many of the saints helped to complete the temple in Nauvoo. Peninna and her daughter are on the rolls of the first Relief Society in Nauvoo. Finally on January 5, 1846, McCaslin and Pennina were able to go the temple for their endowments and we assume to be sealed. What an awesome occasion that must have been.

As mob violence increased and temple sealings done, it was time to move west, so in May 1846 they left their homes and started west to Council Bluffs, Iowa. In the fall of 1846 they went down river about sixty miles to a place called Nishnabotna. His son Samuel bought a place and everyone lived there.

In May 1848, they started their trek to Winter Quarters, Nebraska. They were assigned to the third division. Willard Richard's was the leader. Their company was organized with James Blake captain of 100, Barney Adams, captain of 50 and Andrew Cunningham captain of 10. Within a few days there was so much dissatisfaction that the company was divided into three companies. They were in the Andrew Cunningham company. They traveled so much faster that in a few days they passed the other two.

They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on October 12, 1848. McCaslin was 63 years old and Peninna was 54. They spent time living with their children. They spent time in Spring City, Utah with their son Samuel. Also they lived with their youngest daughter Margaret in Richmond, Utah.

In 1869, while living with their daughter Margaret in Richmond, Utah, Peninna Smith Frost became very sick. She died on September 8, 1869. She was 75 years sold. McCaslin lived with them also until he died on May 12, 1874. He was 89 years old when he died. They were buried in the Richmond Cemetery.

What a great example. Thank you McCaslin and Peninna Frost.

McCaslin Frost Patriarchal Blessing

Patriarchal Blessing for McCaslin Frost given March 16, 1857 Brother McCaslin I lay my hands upon your head in the name of Jesus of Nazareth and place upon you a father's blessing. Thou art of the seed of Abraham and came down through the lineage of Ephriam therefore thou art a legal heir to the priesthood which has come down through the lineage of the fathers even unto thee. Thou art also entitled to the good things of the earth and the fruits thereof. Thy posterity shall become numerous and thou shall live to see thy children's children. Thou shalt have seen many days of toil and affliction but thy evil days are drawing to a close and thy latter days shall be better than thy former. Thy days shall be lengthened out until thou art satisfied with life. The power of the highest shall rest upon you to comfort and console you in your declining years and the desires of thy heart shall be given you. Rejoice therefore in your God for he is nigh unto all who seek him diligently. Fear not, but keep the commandments of God and all these blessings shall be made sure unto you together with all former blessings and by the authority of the Holy Priesthood I seal this a father's blessings upon your head and in the name of Jesus Christ. I seal you up unto eternal lives, even so, Amen.

(Source: as of 24 August 2000. Currently, this URL appears to be invalid.)

Copyright status of this history is unknown while I'm trying to find the author to ask for permission. Monday, 27-Jan-2003 21:45:55 MST