Morton Everel Post

Morton Everel Post is one of San Bernardino County’s historical figures who established his personal reputation before coming to this area. Once here, however, Post was, in the words of historians John Brown Jr. and James Boyd “in the most significant sense a founder and builder, and the splendid achievement that has been his in connection with the development and civic and material progress of Southern California marks him as a courageous and sagacious leader in thought and action.”
Post was born on a farm near Rochester, New York, December 25, 1840, the son of Morton A. and Alary (Wickware) Post, both natives of the old Empire State and both of New England ancestry. Morton A. Post was a substantial farmer in Monroe County, New York, and was ninety years of age at the time of his death, in 1895, his wife having died at the age of fifty-six years. Morton E was the fourth in order of birth in their family of three sons and two daughters.
After his graduation in the high school at Medina, in Orleans County, New York, Morton E. Post came West and engaged in freighting from the Missouri River to various western points. As foreman of a wagon train he made many overland journeys across the plains and mountains. He finally engaged in the same line of enterprise in an independent way, and in several years of operation he won considerable success. In the spring of 1864 Mr. Post followed the gold rush into Alder Gulch, Montana, from Denver, Colorado, and he left Alder Gulch with $75,000 in gold. While in Alder he served as a delegate to the 1864 Democratic National Convention.
Alder Gulch was one of the most perilous parts of the plains, and the work was filled with hardships and dangers. Battles were fought with road agents and Indians, and in one encounter Mr. Post barely missed capture by what contemporaneous accounts referred to as “a band of nearly 100 redskins” who attacked his wagon train with fury, one of his men being killed and nine out of the thirteen being wounded.
Post married Amalia Barney Simons Nichols, a woman who was fourteen years his senior in October 1864. She had a business selling chickens and lending money and had been one of Post’s business partners before the marriage.
Late in 1866 Mr. Post opened a forwarding house in North Platte, Nebraska, then the terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1867 he joined the rush to Wyoming, then part of the Dakota Territory. Post used his mining profits to begin the Cheyenne area’s first general store in partnership with George Manning. He also raised livestock, and becoming active in banking. He was a member of the Laramie County Commission from 1870 to 1876, and he served in the upper branch of the Wyoming Territorial Legislature from 1878 to 1880. In 1880 he was the successful Democratic nominee for Wyoming’s non-voting delegate in the US House of Representatives and served two terms, 1881 to 1885.
Cheyenne was the capitol of the Wyoming Territory and during his time as a politician, the Wyoming Territory was at the forefront of the advance of women’s rights. The territorial legislature passed an act to grant women in Wyoming the right to vote and hold office.
Amalia Post became a leader of the women’s rights movement not only in Wyoming but nationally. In January 1871, she traveled to Washington, D.C., as a delegate from Wyoming to the annual lobbying conference of the National Woman Suffrage Association, and she conferred with such leaders of the national movement as Susan B. Anthony, Victoria Woodhull and Isabella Beecher Hooker. She served in what for women was the unprecedented role of serving as a grand juror, rising to the position of forewoman. In the fall of 1871, the second Wyoming Territorial Legislature sent a bill to the governor to repeal women’s suffrage in the territory. Amalia Post is credited with making a personal appeal to Gov. John A. Campbell to veto the bill. Campbell returned the bill unsigned with a multi-page message refuting in detail the arguments against women’s suffrage. He defended women’s intellectual capacity. He cited the success of the experiments with women voters and jurors. He appealed to the injustice of giving some property owners more rights than others.
In 1884, Morton Post declined the unanimous nomination proffered by his party and was not a candidate for reelection. Thereafter he resumed banking and ranching.
Prior to 1888 his fortune was estimated at more than $1,000,000. In that year a storm destroyed nearly fifteen million dollars’ worth of property in Wyoming, and the catastrophe hit no one harder than it did Post. As the senior partner of the banking house of Morton E. Post & Co., he had interests in various mercantile, sheep raising and mining ventures. His diversified holdings and extensive speculations did not shield him from the economic strain caused by the impact of the bad weather and overgrazing on the cattlemen to whom the bank had advanced money. The bad loans multiplied, and at last, Morton E. Post & Co. failed in October 1887.
After passing a year in a tour of Europe he moved to Utah Territory, where he engaged in mining and real estate and coal speculation with varying success. He went to California in 1895 and shortly thereafter acquired the property which stands to-day as a monument to his genius.
Post came to Cucamonga in 1895, and his keen perception and foresight soon grasped the unequaled advantages the land represented.
Amalia Post died on January 28, 1897, in the midst of Morton Post’s effort to reestablish his life in the Golden State.
With tenacity, his energy, business ability and faith in the undertaking to which he set his head and hands, he succeeded in the development of a vast vineyard and model winery. That operation encompassed more than 1,000 acres of grape-producing soil, and over the years the winery grew to consist of the most economical and sanitary equipment the world then offered.
By 1915, the winery was a $150,000 per year enterprise, with roughly $100,000 annually being paid out by the winery to its labor force and to purchase materials and equipment. Post was among the major taxpayers of the region.
Post made other investments in Southern California.
An article that appeared in the Los Angeles Daily Times of January 1, 1915 said of him,”Among the untiring, strenuous men whose fertile minds have blazed pathways to success and supplemented the tales of the Arabian Nights with real performances, none can show a brighter record than Morton Everel Post, a giant factor in the Southland’s growth. His admirable achievements here are identical with the progress of the Mission Vineyard, a veritable garden of green, yielding vines planted on the level, rich ground where the patient padres began grape culture many a year ago. The great Mission Vineyard was developed by the perseverance of one man and his chosen associate, on an earth surface that a few years ago was scoffed at and considered absolutely worthless. Sagebrush, wild, rough plants of the silent, barren places and parched dust were the offerings to man, and every foot of land reclaimed from the white plain was won by vigilant toil. That the man who has achieved a victory in the long-drawn-out battle with the desert possessed indomitable courage and a never-say-die spirit is strikingly proved by the record of his life.”It is more than worth while to talk with the man who created the wonderful Mission Vineyard, a man who has never known such a word as fail. Let him tell how it feels to lose the result of years of work, how it strikes one to lose a million dollars in a night, and then let him tell how it feels to take heart again and win a fortune greater than he knew before. Such things as these give strength and fortitude to mankind. He has been identified with development and progress in many counties in this section of the state, and his interposition has invariably inured to the benefit of the various communities. He has lived close to nature’s heart, and nature has rewarded him by giving him the profit of requited toil. He has been a foremost figure in the development of both the vineyard and citrus-fruit industries in Southern California, as well as of the olive industry.”
In addition to his agricultural operation in Cucamonga, he farmed in Alhambra and had was was described as “large and important holdings, landed and industrial” elsewhere in Southern California.
Post built and maintained a splendid country home on Haven Avenue in Cucamonga, where his many friends were often entertained with lavish hospitality. He also resided at the Jonathan Club in the City of Los Angeles.
Mr. Post disposed of his vineyard and winery interests in 1919, at an enormous advance over the price which he originally paid for the property.
He then moved into comfortable retirement in a luxurious home at 722 South Oxford Avenue, Los Angeles, though he continued to hold membership in the Jonathan Club.
Brown and Boyd said of him in their 1922 tome History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, “His has been a life of action and productiveness, he has done big things, and his own bigness of mind and heart has marked him as a man among men and one worthy of the confidence and good will that are uniformly accorded to him by his fellow men. By his character and achievement he has honored the great State of California, and this commonwealth in turn grants to him appreciation and honor. He has been an apostle of progress in the West since his young manhood, and through him California has had much to gain and nothing to lose.
On March 19, 1933, at the age of 92, death found him.

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