Amy and Isaac Post
Isaac Post was born on Feb. 26, 1798, in Westbury, Long Island, N.Y., the son of Edmund and Catherine Willets Post. Isaac was a descendant of Richard Post who came to Southampton, Long Island from Lynn, Mass., around the middle of the 17th century, and the Willets, a Quaker family which emigrated from Wiltshire, England, landing at Oyster Bay, Long Island in 1676.
Around 1822 Isaac married Hannah Kirby, one of eight children of Jacob and Mary R. Seaman Kirby who lived in Jericho, Long Island. On February 20, 1823, Hannah bore a daughter, Mary H. Post, in Westbury, Long Island. Both the Posts and Kirbys were farming families and Isaac followed this livelihood when he moved Hannah and Mary in May of 1823 to the township of Scipio in southern Cayuga Co., N.Y.
Sometime around 1825 they had another child, possibly named Edmund, who lived for at least several years but died no later than 1837. Soon after her second child was born Hannah became seriously ill and died in 1827. Hannah's last illness was tended by Amy Kirby (b. Dec. 20, 1802), her sister, who had helped Isaac and Hannah set up in Scipio in 1823. On Sept, 18, 1828, a little more than a year and a half after Hannah's death, Amy Kirby married Isaac.
By 1832, Isaac and Amy had two sons, the first Jacob Kirby Post born on November 11, 1829, and the second, Joseph W. Post born in 1832, both in Scipio. Isaac, however, was not satisfied with farming in Scipio, and in 1836, moved his family to a house at 36 Sophia St., in Rochester, New York. Once in Rochester, Isaac established the drug firm of Post, Coleman and Willis at 4 Exchange Street.
Isaac's drug firm expanded readily over the next several decades, providing a comfortable source of income and a place of employment for Jacob, Joseph, and a third son, Willet E. Post, born on March 14, 1847, in Rochester.
The year 1840 marked the start of a decade which proved decisive in shaping the character of the Posts' lives for the next 30 years.
Both Amy and Isaac had grown up in Quaker families and in the early 1840's Isaac and Amy transformed their religious concerns into social action and became deeply involved in the abolitionist movement.
Amy joined the Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society and helped organize fairs and lectures. The Posts' home frequently received Frederick Douglass and Wendell Phillips, as well as other guests involved in the anti-slavery cause such as William Lloyd Garrison, Parker Pillsbury, George Thompson, Cassius M. Clay, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth.
The second half of the 1840's and the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law at the start of the 1850's saw an increasing number of escaping slaves seeking shelter on their northern journey to freedom in Canada. The Posts’ house became a prominent Rochester station on the Underground Railroad, occasionally providing shelter for 12 to 15 fugitive slaves in one night.
Amy Kirby Post was one of the early influences on Susan B. Anthony, encouraging and supporting her in entering the struggle for women's rights. Delegate to both the Seneca Falls and Rochester conventions in 1848, Amy helped organize both conventions and was an editor of the convention Proceedings published in 1870.
Along with their commitment to a Quaker style of life went a deep inner spirituality. The depth of the Posts' involvement in their own religious lives was demonstrated by their conversion to total belief in Spiritualism by Margaret Fox and her sisters Ann Leah and Catherine, in 1848.
Isaac and Amy, along with R. D. Jones, John E. Robinson and George Willets, were among the original group of five people who first met regularly at the Foxs' house to investigate the source of the "Rochester Rappings". The Posts were soon convinced that they were in direct communication with the deceased of all historical periods and countries. Isaac and Amy became the principal mentors of the Fox sisters during the early part of their public careers, giving them advice, encouragement, and protection during the time the first public investigations were held.
Both Isaac and Amy Kirby Post remained active in a wide range of social reform activities until the end of their lives. They often traveled in New York State to attend conventions of the various reform movements they took interest in.
In 1882, on her 80th birthday, Rochester celebrated the contribution of Amy Kirby Post to the local community and the nation. Old age, however, or even the absence of Isaac who had died in 1872, did not slow down the reform activities of Amy Kirby Post. In 1887, she attended the convention of the Friends of Human Progress at West Junius near Waterloo in Seneca County, New York, to support an organization that she and Isaac had both been active in for many years. Less than a year before her death in 1889, Amy attended the International Council of woman Suffragists at Washington, still working for a cause which epitomized the human spirit of both Isaac and Amy Kirby Post, Hicksite Quakers, free thinkers, Spiritualists, and active reformers of 19th century Rochester.