By Thomas Palmer
Today on Galion History Corner we consider the life of another artist with Galion roots.
As we mentioned in a recent post in this series, Galion’s original city hall sat at the same location as the present building.
From the outset, that structure served as more than city offices. Polk Township had space there, which is why a Township Room still exists at the Municipal Building. The top floor of the original city hall was the City Opera House, which saw GHS graduation ceremonies; performances of singers, acrobats, and actors; and a wide variety of entertainment.
Other uses were made of the building. The second floor, for instance, was home to a handful of various businesses. One of those taking up space there in the late 1870s was an artist’s studio, where portraits, landscapes, drawings, and sketches could be obtained. If you were to drop in, you could “examine specimens” of the artist’s work, according to advertisements in local newspapers.
The artist in question was Charles Wesley Post. Charles was born in rural Galion about 1857, the son of John C. and Mary A. Post. The Posts were from New England, and Galion was but a passing stop on a life journey that took them eventually to Chicago. The Posts had five children, of which Charles was the oldest.
In the 1870 census, Charles is listed as a printer, which is also a visually-oriented profession. He must have had a prodigious talent, as at some point shortly thereafter he traveled to Europe and was accepted at the leading studio of the day, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He studied under painter Karl von Piloty and sculptor Jean-Baptiste Claude Eugène Guillaume.
After two years in Florence, Post turned to engraving and studied under the master William Unger. This change reflects his background as a young printer.
His professional life was spent in Minnesota and then the area around Portland, Oregon. His work concentrated in large part on scenes involving the Columbia River Gorge. He was known to roam the countryside, his collie, “Galla” (named after Galion?) in tow.
Post died in Oregon in 1922 after a short illness.
Each Saturday, we share a post about local history. We call this series “Galion History Corner,” and we will be sharing not only stories about our shared heritage but also updates on history news here in southeast Crawford County.
This series is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Bernard M. Mansfield, whose “Your Historical Galion” was a fixture in weekend editions of the Galion Inquirer. Dr. Mansfield was a friend and family physician, and he inspired the current generation of Galion historians to continue his work.
Sources: Ancestry.com; Crown Point County Historical Society website; Recreating the Columbia River Highway website