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Melville Davisson Post (1871-1930) Papers

Collection Number: A&M 3673

Scope and Contents

Papers of Melville Davisson Post (1869-1930), an American mystery and detective short story writer in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The bulk of the materials date from 1850 to 1929 and primarily consist of Melville Davisson Post's personal and business letters and family financial and legal papers. Business letters mainly document the process of soliciting or accepting and then publishing Post's stories. Financial papers pertain to Post's personal finances in the 1920s, and legal documents from the 18th and early 19th century relate to several members of the Post and Davisson families. Collection also contains a manuscript and typescript draft of the story "The Hole in the Glass" (The Bradmoor Murder, 1929); a biography of Melville Post by Charles Norton; and several black-and-white photographs of Templemoor, Post's childhood home.

Series include:
Series 1a. Letters -- Personal, 1890–1928 (box 1)
Series 1b. Letters -- Business, 1909–1929 (box 1)
Series 2. Writings, 1973, undated (box 2)
Series 3a. Financial and Legal Papers -- Melville Davisson Post, 1914-1928 (box 2)
Series 3b. Financial and Legal Papers -- Davisson and Post Families, 1811-1913, 1949 (boxes 2-3)
Series 3c. Financial and Legal Papers -- Miscellaneous, 1852–1952 (box 3)
Series 4. Personal Materials, 1956-1957, undated (box 3)


  • Creation: 1811-1973
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1850-1929


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please see the Permissions and Copyright page on the West Virginia and Regional History Center website.

Biographical / Historical

Melville Davisson Post was born on April 19, 1869, the son of Florence May Davisson (1843-1914) and Ira Carper Post (1842-1923). Florence and Ira Post married in October 1866 and had five children: Maud, Melville, Emma, Sydney, and Florence. Ira raised cattle in Harrison County, West Virginia, and held numerous herds of cattle as well as pasture land. In 1878 the Posts built a new home, "Templemoor," where Melville spent the rest of his youth.

Melville Post attended the Academy in Buckhannon, West Virginia, in 1885 and took courses in Morgantown the following year. He formally entered West Virginia University in 1887 and graduated in 1891. He returned for a year of legal studies, and received his LL.B. in 1892. Post served as a prosecuting attorney in Wheeling, West Virginia, and was also involved in the state's Democratic Party.

Post began writing short stories while in Wheeling, and his first work centered on the character of Randolph Mason. The Strange Schemes of Randolph Mason was published in 1896, followed by The Man of Last Resort, of the Clients of Randolph Mason one year later. Other books included Dwellers in the Hills (1901), The Corrector of Destinies (1908), The Gilded Chair (1910), and The Nameless Thing (1912).

In 1903, Post married Ann Bloomfield "Bloom" Gamble Schoolfield. The couple lived in Grafton, West Virginia, where Post had formed a law partnership with another attorney. They had one son, Ira C. Post II, who died in 1906. Melville and Bloom left Grafton and from 1907 to 1914 spent their time traveling in Europe and enjoying extended stays with their families.

Beginning in 1908, Post's crime stories as well as his legal writing began to appear frequently in American popular magazines, including the Saturday Evening Post, The Atlantic Monthly, and Harper's Monthly Magazine. One of Post's most well-known characters, Uncle Abner, first appeared in 1911; Uncle Abner continued to figure prominently in Post's stories, and in 1918 a collection of stories featuring Abner was published: Uncle Abner, Master of Mysteries. Post's later work included The Mystery at the Blue Villa (1919), The Sleuth of St. James Square (1920), The Mountain School-Teacher (1922), Monsieur Jonquelle: Prefect of Police of Paris (1923), Randolph Mason, Corrector of Destinies (1923), Walker of the Secret Service (1924), The Man Hunters (1926), The Revolt of the Birds (1927), The Bradmoor Murder (1929), The Garden in Asia (1929), and The Silent Witness (1930). He also continued to publish stories in serial publications.

Post built a home near Clarksburg, West Virginia, in 1914-1915 that was based on Swiss architecture and that he nicknamed "The Chalet." Bloom died of pneumonia in 1919. Melville Davisson Post lived at the Chalet until his death from a horse accident in 1930. He is buried in Clarksburg.


1.25 Linear Feet (Summary: 1 ft. 3 1/4 in. (3 document cases, 5 in. each); (1 oversize folder, 1/4 in.))

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL:

Related A&M Collections

693, 1143, 1635, 3673

Melville Davisson Post (1871-1930) Papers, 1811-1973
Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Center
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Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US