Plows, Plats, and a Toast to Post

Charles William Post was born in Springfield, Illinois in 1854.

post 60 censusHis parents were Charles Rollin and Caroline Lathrop Post.

post 1880 censusBy 1880 both father and son were engaged in agricultural implements. Young Post was a commercial traveler, selling agricultural implements, including those he made himself. Post held patents on agricultural implements of his own invention.

But in 1885 Post suffered a nervous breakdown due to overwork. In 1887 he became interested in land development in Texas. In fact, to make a new start, he moved to Texas and by 1888 was in Fort Worth, with an office on Main Street and a home on East 4th Street downtown where the Muse-Maddox Center is today. (Photo from Wikipedia.)

post 88 cdMembers of Post’s family, including his parents, had joined him here by 1888. Aurie and Carroll were C. W.’s brothers. Charles R. was their father. Willis H. was a cousin.

post 1887 east fort worthIn 1887 a group of entrepreneurs had formed the East Fort Worth Town Company to build the city of East Fort Worth in today’s Sylvania area. A streetcar line along East 1st Street would connect the new city to Fort Worth. There would be a park with a lake. Three institutions of higher learning were said to be interested in relocating to the new city.

post sylvania 88Although C. W. Post lived in Fort Worth only four years, he was busy. By 1888 he was secretary of the East Fort Worth Town Company as it proposed to build the streetcar line and to build the twenty-two-acre park in the town of East Fort Worth, Post said, “for the benefit of all well-behaved people who care to visit it.”

post spring palaceIn 1889 cousin Willis was secretary of the Texas Spring Palace organization as it solicited proposals for the location of the exhibition. Post’s East Fort Worth Town Company offered land in Sylvania and promised streetcar service. C. W. Post also offered land along the Clear Fork. Note that J. L. Tyler also offered his Tyler’s Lake in Glenwood.

alamosa sycamoreIn 1890 Post began developing a subdivision of his own—Alamosa Heights—on one thousand acres southeast of Fort Worth on Sycamore Creek. The subdivision—an “industrial suburb”—would be linked to Fort Worth by the Houston & Texas Central railroad, which built a depot at Alamosa Heights. (H&TC tracks cross the creek near East Berry Street.) A special train, the Alamosa Flyer, left Union Depot downtown every hour to take prospective buyers to the subdivision. Fare: a nickel. Ad is from the Fort Worth Gazette.

post millsPost also planned a woolen mill and a paper mill at Alamosa Heights.  As was the business practice at the time, Post bought land on which to locate the mills as well as land to subdivide into lots to sell to homeowners, including millworkers.

(Post also was an early advocate for a city park for Fort Worth. Fort Worth would build first City Park in 1892 and Forest Park in 1897, renaming City Park “Trinity Park.”)

post 1891 plat kingIn 1891 Post’s East Fort Worth Town Company sold much of its land east of today’s Sylvania Avenue to Fort Worth Land Company, which changed the name of the addition to “Riverside.” The plat was signed by candyman John P. King, who would develop the Oakhurst addition north of the area shown on this plat. (From Pete Charlton’s “1000+ Lost Antique Maps of Texas & the Southwest on DVD-ROM.”)

Meanwhile, in 1891 overwork again caused Post to suffer a nervous breakdown. Post left Fort Worth to try to reclaim his health at Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, which was operated by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. In 1897 Kellogg, with brother Will, would found a cereal company. That same year C. W. Post would found his own cereal company, inspired by the healthful foods he was given at Kellogg’s sanitarium.

Post’s first product was Postum, a grain-based coffee substitute. This testimonial was from a bedeviled coffee drinker who switched to Postum.

“Brains! Brains!!” No, Post’s next cereal product, Grape-Nuts, was not marketed with zombies in mind.

In 1904 came a brand of corn flakes, which was at first given the downright biblical brand name “Elijah’s Manna” before being renamed the more palatable “Post Toasties” in 1908.

In 1906 Post again invested in Texas real estate and on a Texas-size scale: He bought a quarter-million acres in Garza and Lynn counties and built his own utopian town, which he called “Post City.” There he experimented with rainmaking by detonating dynamite from kites and towers. Today the town of Post is the county seat of Garza County.

oxsheer-post 11-18-06 dmnAmong the properties Post bought was a ranch owned by Fort Worth cattleman Fountain Goodlet Oxsheer. Clip is from the November 18, 1906 Dallas Morning News.

But even as his businesses thrived, poor health and depression plagued C. W. Post. On May 9, 1914 Charles William Post committed suicide.

post 14 cdHis father Charles R. and brother Aurie were still living in Fort Worth.

post willPost’s estate was estimated at $20 million ($477 million today).

His daughter, Marjorie Merriweather Post, who had lived in Fort Worth as a baby, parlayed her inheritance into General Foods and became the wealthiest woman in America. In 1927 she would build Mar-a-Lago (Spanish for “Sea to Lake”) estate with its 126-room, 110,000-square-foot house. The estate would become the Florida home of Donald J. Trump. (David Swartz photo from Wikipedia.)

post mausoCharles William Post is buried in Battle Creek. (Photo from Find A Grave.)

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4 Responses to Plows, Plats, and a Toast to Post

  1. Mike Bart says:

    Very interesting info on C.W. Post. He was even instrumental in forming Forest Park and Trinity Park. Read about him in city of Post on way to Lubbock. I believe he had ties to Hugley Hospital via Battle Creek Michigan connections.

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