Friday, January 8, 2016

THE RICHEST WOMAN IN AMERICA



 By Celia Yeary
MARJORIE MERRIWEATHER POST
Marjorie Merriweather Post was one of America's earliest and most famous heiresses, socialites and philanthropists. As the founder of General Foods in Battle Creek, Michigan, she became the wealthiest woman in the United States. Her fortune amounted to about $250 million.
(Born March 15, 1887-Died September 12, 1973)
 
C. W. POST AND MARJORIE
Her story goes back to her father, C. W. Post, who was founder of a small West Texas town named for him—Post, Texas near Lubbock. He established the Postum Cereal Company in 1895 in Battle Creek, Michigan. When he died, Marjorie became the owner of the rapidly growing Postum Cereal Company. Eventually the company came to be known as General Foods.

She married four times:
1. Investment banker Edward Bennett Close of Greenwich, Connecticut, and had one daughter, Adelaide.
2. Financier Edward Francis Hutton. They had one daughter, Nedenia Marjorie Hutton, better known as actress Dina Merrill.
3. Joseph, E. Davies, a Washington, DC attorney.
4. Herbert A. May, a wealthy Pittsburgh businessman.
After that marriage, she returned to her original name: Marjorie Merriweather Post.

HILLWOOD MANSION
RUSSIAN ART: Marjorie collected an extensive amount of art while married to Joseph Davies. A large portion of the collection came from art treasures seized from the Romanov family and former Russian aristocrats after the Russian revolution. Although critics suggested the art was expropriated, Post and Davies’s transactions were from the recognized governmental authority. The items remain under the control of the Post estate and can be viewed at her Washington, DC estate called Hillwood.
In addition to the Russian art, the estate holds her French art collection, featuring the work of Faberge, Sevres porcelain, French furniture, tapestries, and paintings.

ESTATES:
MAR-A-LAGO
Mar-A-Lago on Palm Beach Island: Designed by Joseph Urban, Mar-A-Lago was willed in 1973 to the U.S. Government as a retreat for Presidents and visiting foreign dignitaries. The mansion was not, however, used for this purpose, prior to being declared a National Historic Landmark in 1980. It was purchased by Donald Trump in 1985.
She also owned numerous other estates across the US.
At one time, she owned the largest privately owned sea-going yacht in the world.

JEWELRY: Of course, since she often dressed as royalty, she owned a large amount of priceless jewelry. Some of the collection is on display in the Smithsonian in Washington, DC: the Napoleon Necklace; the Marie Louise Diadem that Napoleon gave to his second wife; earrings that belonged to Marie Antoinette; and diamonds and emerald necklaces and rings that belonged to Mexican Emperor Maximilian.

PHILANTHROPY: Marjorie was generous with her donations. She built a hospital in France during WWI, gave to universities, the Boy Scouts, and concert pavilions.

EPILOGUE: Her wealth and position were made possible by her father, C.W. Post.

COMING NEXT MONTH: The accomplishments and tragic life of a unique man: C.W.Post

Thank you for visiting The Sweethearts of the West.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

Sources:
Wikipedia
Hillwood Mansion Museum
Wikimedia








18 comments:

  1. Good post, Celia. I always love reading about the rich and famous. I hope she was happy in spite of her money. I have heard you can be happy with or without money but with is better. I wouldn't know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do, too, if I believe they have some integrity. Too many don't, and you can tell I read about them anyway, or I wouldn't know this. We know the public life of this woman, but wouldn't it be interesting to know about her real personality. Was she kind? Was she loving and forgiving? Was she fair? We know she was generous, but does that make her a "good woman?" Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  2. I had heard of Marjorie Merriweather Post but knew little about her. Thank you, Celia, for sharing your research about this fascinating woman. After four marriages, she must have said enough! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. How can we ever understand how one could marry four times. Of course, her entire life was tied up with money and prestige. I like to think she was a good person...maybe just tooo rich and indulged. Next month, I'll write about her father who began it all. His is a tragic story.

      Delete
  3. Four husbands, wow, says something about her and I sure would like to know what. All her husbands were moneyed men of influence. Maybe she needed a more earthy kind of man who understood the cowboy way. Just sayin'.
    250 million dollars must have been like Opra's fortune back then. She certainly was into great art and I like that she made it possible for others to enjoy it, too.
    I look forward to your article on her father. How does a man get into the cereal business and make a fortune? Now that certainly got my attention.
    This was definitely an intriguing blog, Celia. Your articles always are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I, too, thought her fortune would be a pittance in the world of very wealthy people today. Why four husbands? I have no idea except to think she did not have to do anything she didn't want to, and so, why put up with a husband who did not allow her freedom? I do hope you remember this when I write about her father. It will break your heart.

      Delete
  4. Like Lyn, I've heard about Marjorie Merriweather Post and knew her heritage with Post cereal, but interesting to learn more about her history.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheri..more next month. Her father's story is much more interesting.

      Delete
  5. What a fascinating woman she must have been. I stumbled all over the part about her mansion. She willed it to the government, it never was used for the intended purpose, then it was declared a national monument, and five years later The Donald bought it? I wouldn't blame her if she came back and haunted everyone involved. What a rude way to treat a bequest.

    Thanks for this post (no pun intended), Celia! I learned a whole lot of new stuff. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, hey, Kathleen..I stumbled over all this, too. Egad. Of all people. The Donald. Excuse me while I take a deep breath. I agree.

      Delete
  6. Interesting. Think of all the people she met, all the people who were excited to meet her! Her life sounds like Easy Street in the lap of luxury, but life is never that rosy. I'm sure she had trials and tribulations like the rest of us, at least in the man department.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maggie--I don't think anyone would have never known about her trials and tribulations. She remind me of Jackie O. See? Kind of the same thing.

      Delete
  7. Interesting what you read, and then wonder what the real person was like. Four husbands...and why did they part ways?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda...I think many of us would love to know what she was really like. But..the fact is, we'll never know. Each husband was wealthy and had some particular appeal..but when you are that rich, exactly what are you looking for? Thanks.

      Delete
  8. Celia, I too had heard of Marjorie but never knew her whole story. Very interesting and thanks so much for this blog. Four husbands indeed! I'd also love to know why or what happened for her to have four. And do believe she must be rolling over in her grave to know her donation to the government is now owned by WHO? What is this world coming to?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Donald Trump! Good Grief! But she was one of a kind, had absolutely everything she could possibly want, and lived in the era of "Too much is not enough."
      I hope she had some satisfaction and peace and happiness along the way.

      Delete
  9. That was an interesting post. I had forgotten Dina Merrill was a debutante.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Celia, thank you for sharing Marjorie's story. I had no idea who she was and just how influential she was in American history.

    Smiles
    Steph

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting Sweethearts of the West!