The Post Falls History Walk

Frederick Post: Founder of Post Falls

 

Research compiled by Kimberly Rice Brown, Post Falls, Idaho,, 2008, used in part in the Post Falls History Walk Project, and the City of Post Falls Rotunda Founder’s-Herborn Display, 2008

 

 

Frederick Post, was born near Herborn, Hesse-Nassau, Germany on September 16, 1821.  His family worked in the nearby coal mines.  Trained as a millwright, Frederick Post also worked in the mines for the German-English Mining Company.  As a young man, he had also served in the army. 

 

In 1848, Frederick Post married Margaret Hild and two years later they decided to leave Germany for America.  They left Europe from Antwerp, Belgium on the ship, the Cotton Planter, and arrived in New York on May 20, 1850.

 

Frederick Post and his family settled in Kendall County, Illinois where he put his millwright skills to use by patenting a riding scraper and a pulverizing land roller.  He dammed Big Rock Creek and Little Rock Creek and set up a grist mill on one creek, and a lumber mill on the other. Later, he and his crews operated a limestone quarry and completed a dam on the Fox River. 

 

When the railroad relocated, Post sold his interests on the Fox River and headed West.   He traveled to San Francisco and Portland, and in 1871 brought equipment for a lumber mill and a grist mill overland to the Inland Northwest.  He settled and built homes in three areas that later became the towns of Rathdrum, Spokane and Post Falls.

 

Frederick Post was considered honest, trustworthy, and a man of

his word. His wife and five daughters were described as hospitable,

kind, and generous.  He had an eye for economic development, which he combined with his personal training, skills, and hard work.

 

Post was respectful of the Indians of the area.  As his businesses developed, he was fair and honest in his dealings, whether it involved grinding wheat or selling lumber. 

 

In 1871, Post conferred with local Coeur d’ Alene Indians, including Moses Seltice and his family who raised stock and raised crops in the area.  Many feel that Post negotiated some kind of trade agreement for use of water power at the “Little Falls” of the Spokane River.

 

As the region opened for settlement, the Coeur d’ Alene tribe found that the land they had lived on for thousands of years no longer belonged to them. 

 

In 1891, after years of negotiations with the U.S. Government, the Coeur d’ Alene Tribe signed a treaty. In it, was an 1889 abstract of title stating that in 1871, Post had purchased land from the Coeur d’ Alene Indians near Post Falls for $500. 

 

Although there is no evidence that a treaty was signed at the granite rock in Post Falls called “Treaty Rock”, Indian pictographs remain on the rock.  In addition, rock carvings or petoglyphs also remain  on the rock, which read “June 1, 1871, Frederick Post”.

 

 

Before getting lumber mill operations going in Post Falls, Post concentrated his efforts in running a ranch near present Rathdrum.  One of his daughters, Mary, later married Charles Wesley Wood, an early pioneer of the town.  The town of Rathdrum later grew along the Northern Pacific Railroad route to the Pacific.  It also became an early county seat of Kootenai County. 

 

In 1776, Frederick Post left Rathdrum and moved to Spokane Falls.  Spokane founder, James Glover, encouraged him to set up his gristmill at the falls.  At that time there were nine families at Spokane Falls.  His early milling operation provided a much needed service to the pioneer families of the area.  In turn, Frederick Post acquired 40 acres from Glover and built a home for his family.  Post Street in downtown Spokane still bears his name.

 

By 1878 white settlers continued to settle the area.  Post had offered the mill site at the “Upper or Little Falls” of the Spokane River to the U.S. Army.  Since the mill was not operating and Post did not have title to the land, officials declined his offer.  The U.S. Army built the Fort Coeur d’Alene military post in what is now Coeur d’  Alene.  It was later called Fort Sherman, in honor of Civil War general, William Tecumseh Sherman.

 

 

In late 1879, Frederick Post returned to the “Little Falls” of the Spokane River, which later was referred to as “Post’s Falls”.  He finished the mill race that harnessed the water power for a lumber mill.  As it moved into full operation the following year, it became the region’s first commercial sawmill.  It was considered the finest in Kootenai County, and Post was considered the “father of commercial lumbering” for the area. Logs arrived in Post Falls by horse, rail and tugboat.

 

From 1880-1894 Post leased out the mill to several operators, including friends from Illinois, including Mr. Lewis, Mr. Bish and Samuel Bader. In 1894, he sold the lumber mill to the Spokane and Idaho Lumber Company. 

 

Post’s diverse economic development in Post Falls also included a flour mill.  One of his daughters, Julia, had married Layfayette Dart and in 1889, Post sold his flour milling operation to the Dart Brothers. 

 

Post platted nearly 294 acres for settlement, and set up a water system for the town.  He built a three story hotel in Post Falls, called the Mount Vernon. 

 

As time went on, Post sold his water rights along the Spokane River, including the three channels of the Spokane River to Spokane mine owners, who later formed the Washington Water Power Company.  By 1906, a  hydroelectric facility on the 2nd channel of the Spokane River at Post Falls was completed.

 

Lumber mill operations at Post’s mill site continued for most of the 20th

 

century.  Several lumber companies and interests, including Strathern, Rubedew, Kirkpatrick, Schumacher, Blessing and later Georgia Pacific provided stable employment to the local population.  The last owner of the mill site, Louisiana Pacific continued lumber manufacturing operations, from 1973-1995.

 

Today, Post’s early economic development is recognized throughout Falls Park on west 4th Avenue bordering the first channel of the Spokane River.  The mill

 site is now part of condominiums at Post Falls Landing.

 

 

Frederick Post leaves his name, and those of his brothers, William and Henry, on streets in Post Falls. The Post family burial plot was later donated to the City of Post Falls and remains as the Evergreen Cemetery.

 

 President Theodore Roosevelt described Frederick Post as “a man who has done things”.  When Post died on his 60th wedding anniversary, he was

 

mourned by white and Indians alike.

 

“I’ve always looked forward more to the future of Post Falls than I have to its past….

I consider Post Falls a stable town, an ideal place to live.  We’re not citified and we’re not rural, but we have many advantages of both, and we are truly an American town”.

 

Frederick Post

Founder of Post Falls

1821-1908

 

 

Kimberly Rice Brown, 2008

From the files of the Post Falls Historical Society, personal and Post Family research

 

Frederick Post Figure by Linda Fabrizius, located in the Post Falls' City Hall Rotunda

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