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Love and Ruin in the Shadows of the Clark Empire: The Lost Story of Harrison Post

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Harrison Post
Posted at 4:14 PM, Jun 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 11:06:36-04

BUTTE — Liz Brown had been going through her grandmother’s belongings after her death when she found a mysterious photo. The photo had a young man staring into the lens of a camera. On the back, the name "Harrison Post."

"I just kept the photograph because I was so enamored of it and it was so mysterious, I had no idea why my grandmother had kept it for 80 years," Brown said.

When Brown started researching into William Andrews Clark, Jr., her grandmother’s uncle, she came across Harrison Post once more in a biography about Clark.

"I had no idea that the man in the photograph was going to show up in this biography and the author referred to him as one of Clark's perverted disciples—and that’s when I put it together that that photograph was my great grand uncle’s lover," Brown said.

William Andrew Clark, Jr. was different from his father and brother. He wasn’t a businessman.

"He was never quite as business savvy as his father was. He never quite fit that mold. Junior always, I think, fell into the more artistic, a little more free-spirited category." said Aubrey Jaap, Assistant Director of the Butte Archives.

Brown’s grandmother’s aunt Alice McManus married Clark after the death of his first wife. Brown’s grandmother was something of a surrogate daughter to the couple.

"When her aunt Alice died, she still stayed very close to Will Clark and that’s, that’s sort of when Harrison came on the scene," said Brown.

Harrison Post lived across from Clark, who put Post in charge of the interior decoration of the Clark Library. The 13 naked men painted on the library's ornate ceiling all have Post's face.

When Brown first set out writing this story, she thought she would be reclaiming a lost love story. It was anything but.

When Clark died, Post was to inherit a bulk of his estate. Post was ill at the time so Post’s sister declared her brother incompetent and began to squander, steal and embezzle all his money.

"It became kind of a noir. This noir story of this man being taken captive by his sister who’s stealing everything," said Brown.

Brown had wanted to write the story of a man lost in the legacy of his lover, but her thoughts quickly changed.

"In some ways I thought Harrison’s life would have been much better if he had never entered the Clark Dynasty," said Brown.