Charles William “C. W.” Post was born October 26, 1854 in Abraham Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield, Illinois.
He attended Illinois Industrial University at Urbana (known today as the University of Illinois) for two years before heading west to Independence, Kansas without a degree.
C.W. returned to Springfield a short time later to work as a salesman for a manufacturer of agricultural machinery.
While there, he invented and patented several farm implements, including a plow, a harrow, and a hay-stacking machine.
C.W. married Ella Letitia Merriweather in November of 1874 and had daughter Marjorie Merriweather Post.
Then in November of 1885, C.W. suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of stress and overwork.
He divorced his wife and made a break from his previous life, moving to the state of Texas in 1886.
In Texas, C.W. became associated with a group of real estate developers in Fort Worth who were attempting to establish a new community on the eastern outskirts of a town called Riverside.
Then in 1888, C.W. bought 200 acres of land near Fort Worth and attempted to establish his own development by platting the land for streets, homes and constructing two mills.
The stress of this project again proved too much for Post, and a second breakdown followed in 1891.
He began to travel in search of a cure, and became interested in the chemistry of digestion.
John Harvey Kellogg
After a period of traversing around Europe, C.W. visited the Battle Creek Sanitarium at Battle Creek, Michigan.
This facility was operated by one John Harvey Kellogg.
Kellogg was using dietary products that interested C.W. inspiring him to start his own company.
Postum Cereal Company
Then in 1895, C.W. Post founded the Postum Cereal Company and began to develop his first prepared food cereal product launching a new industry.
By 1897, C.W. had developed a breakfast cereal he named “Grape Nuts” because of the fruity aroma he noticed during the manufacturing process and the nutty crunch of the finished product.
In 1904, he followed up his Grape Nuts label with a brand of corn flakes, which he called “Elijah’s Manna.”
C.W. Post married his second wife, Leila Young, in November of 1904.
Then in 1906, C.W. invested some of his substantial earnings from his food products manufacturing into Texas real estate, purchasing a massive 225,000 acre tract in Garza and Lynn Counties.
Post platted his new town, which he called Post City.
Shade trees were planted, farm parcels laid out, and a hotel, school, churches, and a department store were constructed for the new Garza County seat.
His company renamed the cereal Elijah’s Manna as Post Toasties in 1908, and the rest is history.
By the end of 1913, C.W. had become chronically ill. His health deteriorated to the point that he canceled public appearances, which prompted speculation in the press regarding his well-being.
In early March 1914, C.W. was believed to be suffering from appendicitis and was rushed via a nonstop train from California to Rochester, Minnesota to be operated on by William and Charles Mayo, regarded as the preeminent surgeons of the day.
Upon examination the Mayo brothers deemed Post to be inoperable, however, and the breakfast cereal magnate returned home to Santa Barbara without surgical remedy, still plagued by stomach pain.
In the 1995 book The Life and Times of Majorie Merriweather Post, author Nancy Rubin claims that C.W. Post did indeed have the Mayo brothers operate successfully sometime between March 5–10, 1914.
However, on May 9, 1914, despondent over his ongoing stomach issues, C.W. Post took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot.
His 27-year-old daughter, Marjorie Merriweather Post, inherited his company along with most of his vast fortune, one of the largest of the early 20th century.
Marjorie Merriweather Post later married financier E.F. Hutton and owned a 177-acre estate on Long Island’s North Shore called “Hillwood.”
Marjorie sold the estate in 1951 for $200,000 to Long Island University, which founded its C.W. Post Campus in 1954, marking the 100th anniversary of C. W. Post’s birth.
Currently the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University has about 8,500 full- and part-time students and over 100,000 alumni.
Now WE know em