I grew up in the Fifties in West Texas--on the South Plains of the Panhandle--in a small oil and farming community named Levelland. Seventy-one miles Southeast just below the majestic Caprock, lay another small community named Post, Texas.
Somehow during my young years, I learned the Grape Nuts my daddy ate were invented by a man named Post—C. W. Post, as I now know. An author in a book titled “Tales From Out Yonder,” described Grape Nuts as “a cereal with the appearance of creek gravel.”C.W. Post was an intriguing man, but not only for inventing Grape Nuts and Post Toasties. No. As a young man, his ability to invent and create was notable.
He was born on October 26, 1854, in Springfield, Illinois. After graduating from the Springfield public schools he entered Illinois Industrial University (now the University of Illinois) at Urbana. He remained 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.
|SULKY PLOW-DRAWN BY ONE HORSE|
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 of Battle Creek, Michigan but lived apart for several years before divorcing. They had one daughter named Marjorie Merriweather Post.After a nervous breakdown in November 1885 caused by strain and overwork, he moved to Fort Worth, Texas with his family.
There, he 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 known today as Riverside. Other members of the family, including Post's brother Rollin, followed C. W. 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.
However, only three years later, Post suffered a second breakdown and moved with his wife to Battle Creek, Michigan, where he entered a sanitarium. With rest came recuperation, and soon he was experimenting with a cereal drink he called Postum. Next, he developed Grape-Nuts and Post Toasties, breakfast foods that by the end of the century made him millions of dollars.In 1906, as a result of a 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. He designated a central site as the location of his new town.
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. He passed away at age 59--presumably by taking his own life with a gunshot wound.Post’s genius was clouded by mental problems his entire life. Before the psychological terms manic-depressive and bipolar disorder were tossed about, Post was merely considered peculiar, a gentleman with wild mood swings. From his psychological highs, Post’s inventive mind conjured up new products that made him a household name and launched wildly ambitious projects. His low points often terminated in a visit to a sanitarium, from which he would emerge many months later rejuvenated and would begin anew.
Note: To read about his daughter, Marjorie Merriweather Post, who inherited the company General Foods in Battle Creek Michigan—see Previous Posts titled “The Richest Woman in America.” January 8, 2016.
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Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
SOURCES for C.W. Post:The Handbook of Texas On-line: Texas State Historical Association
“Tales From Out Yonder”-Ross McSwain