John Frank Waldo was born May 16, 1835 in Chelsea, Vermont. His parents were Royal Burroughs Waldo and Almira Newcomb Waldo.
Waldo married Esther Maria Bartholomew on November 5, 1859 in Sumner, Kansas. She was born February 18, 1842 in Hartford, Vermont. The couple had six children: Algernon Harrison who was born in Sumner, Kansas September 12, 1860; Maria Jeannett who was born in Racine, November 8, 1863; Ralph Emerson born in Oshkosh in 1866; Edward born in Oshkosh January 15, 1871; William born in Kenosha, Wisconsin July 24, 1877; and Frank born in Oshkosh April 10, 1883.
From1859 until 1860 Frank Waldo was living in Sumner, Kansas. In 1861 he was operating a photography studio in Central City, Colorado in partnership with Henry Faul. In 1863 the family was living in Racine, Wisconsin. According to his son Algernon, the family came to Oshkosh in 1864 where Frank worked for Rudd & Holden Carriage Company, where he was a carriage and sign painter through 1866. He then began taking art lessons from Mrs. Thomas P. Russell, a well-known local artist. He then began working as an artist and fresco painter in Oshkosh.