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POST, CHARLES WILLIAM

POST, CHARLES WILLIAM (1854–1914). Charles William Post, cereal manufacturer and developer, was born on October 26, 1854, in Springfield, Illinois, to Charles Rollin and Caroline (Lathrop) Post. After graduating from the Springfield public schools he entered Illinois Industrial University (now the University of Illinois) at Urbana; he remained for only two years before abandoning school "for hard physical work." At seventeen he went to Independence, Kansas, where he worked as a salesman, clerk, and store owner. He returned to Springfield in 1872 and worked for the next fourteen years as a salesman and manufacturer of agricultural machines. During this period he invented and secured patents on such farm equipment as cultivators, a sulky plow, a harrow, and a haystacker. On November 4, 1874, Post married Ella Letitia Merriweather. They had one daughter. After living apart for several years they were divorced in 1904, and on November 7 of that year Post married Leila Young of Battle Creek, Michigan. After a nervous breakdown in November 1885 caused by strain and overwork, he went to Texas in 1886 and in Fort Worth became associated with a group of real estate men who were developing a 300-acre tract in the eastern part of the city, an area now known as Riverside. Other members of the family, including Post's brother Rollin, followed C. W. (as he signed his name) to Fort Worth. In 1888 the Posts acquired a 200-acre ranch on the outskirts of the city and began the development of a subdivision on their property; they laid out streets and lots for homes and constructed a woolen mill and a paper mill.

In 1891 Post suffered a second breakdown and moved with his wife moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, where he entered a sanitarium. With rest and the ministrations of a Christian Science practitioner came recuperation, and soon he was experimenting with a cereal drink he called Postum. He subsequently developed Grape-Nuts and Post Toasties, breakfast foods that by the end of the century made him millions of dollars. He served as president of the American Manufacturers Association and of the Citizen's Industrial Association. Post was a bitter opponent of labor unions and an advocate of the open shop. In 1906, as a result of his desire to own a farming community in Texas, he purchased some 225,000 acres of ranchland along the escarpment of the Caprock in Garza and Lynn counties and designated a site near the center of Garza County as the location of his new town, which would be the county seat. In 1907 Post City, as it was called until after the developer's death, was platted, farms of 160 acres were laid out, shade trees were planted, and a machine shop, a hotel, a school, churches, and a department store were constructed.

Post tried various forms of automatic machinery in developing dry-land farming techniques and introduced varieties of grain sorghums such as milo and kafir. One of his most spectacular experiments was his rain-making effort through dynamite explosions. From firing stations along the rim of the Caprock four-pound dynamite charges were detonated every four minutes for a period of several hours. Between 1911 and 1914 he spent thousands of dollars in this endeavor, which met with little success. Post's main contribution to Texas was opening the plains region to agricultural development. His health failed again in 1914, and he died, probably by suicide, on May 9, 1914, at his home in Santa Barbara, California. He is buried in Battle Creek, Michigan.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Charles Dudley Eaves and Cecil Allen Hutchinson, Post City, Texas: C. W. Post's Colonizing Activities in West Texas (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1952). Nettie Letich Major, C. W. Post (Washington: Judd and Detweiler, 1963). Jan Reid, "C. W. Post," Texas Monthly, March 1987.

William M. Pearce

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

William M. Pearce, "POST, CHARLES WILLIAM," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpo26), accessed October 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on September 30, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.