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  • Writer's pictureDon Wilding

Provincetown’s Grozier and the Boston Post

Provincetown can take credit for many noteworthy people calling the Cape Tip home, but one of the great icons of the media world isn’t often recognized as one of them.

That poobah of the print world is none other than Edwin A. Grozier, the longtime publisher and owner of the Boston Post newspaper during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Under Grozier’s steady hand, the Post went from a debt-ridden, nearly bankrupt publication in 1891 to a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper, claiming a circulation of 650,000 by World War I.

“He insisted on accuracy in the reporting and writing of the news, won the affection of his readers, and treated his employees liberally,” Gustavus Swift Paine wrote in the April 27, 1950 edition of the Cape Codder.

In 1920, the Post won the Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service after exposing Charles Ponzi as a fraud. The Post’s investigation of the 1911 death of Avis Linnell led to the arrest and murder conviction of Clarence Richeson.

Born in San Francisco, Grozier was the son of Captain Joshua Grozier, who sailed clipper ships between Boston, New York, and San Francisco. “The Groziers have been a small but interesting family of Truro and Provincetown,” Paine noted. Grozier attended grammar and high school in Provincetown until he was 15.

After sailing around the world on windjammers for two years, Grozier attended Brown University and Boston University, paying his way by working as a newspaper reporter. He worked as a secretary for Massachusetts Gov. George Robinson for two years, then found himself at Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World newspaper in 1886, where he rose in the ranks from publisher’s assistant to editor-in-chief.

While at the World, he authored “The Wreck of the Somerset,” which chronicled the British warship’s stranding in November 1778. It would later be reprinted as a booklet in 1907.

After the timbers of the Somerset were exposed in 1886, “Grozier offered a wealth of evidence in support of the local conviction that this was indeed the remains off the Somerset,” wrote Grace DesChamps in the Provincetown Advocate. “His description of the old wooden ghost, gaunt in her tomb, was impressive.”

In 1891, Grozier purchased controlling interest in the Boston Post. Advertising surged, and its news coverage was highly regarded. “On the Post he supervised personally every department of the business, and no detail was too small to receive his careful scrutiny,” Paine noted.

In 1909, Grozier launched a tradition that lives across New England today. He purchased 700 walking canes, starting the Boston Post campaign, and presented them to the oldest citizens of towns across the region. The top of the African ebony, gold-tipped canes were stamped with the words, "Presented by the Boston Post to the oldest resident of" the respective town. Over 500 towns still carry on the tradition.

“Grozier believed in appealing to civic pride, generosity, interest in animals, and love of parents for children,” Paine wrote.

Among some of his other accomplishments at the Post:

* The Post raised money to buy three elephants for the Boston zoo, then helped them obtain the largest hippopotamus in captivity and two sacred cows;

* He started a Santa Claus department at Christmas, which raised funds to give presents annually to 150,000 children;

* In later years, Grozier “gave a Ford (each day) to the one sending in the best news item,” Paine noted.

“Cape Codders knew that shrewdness was in in his ancestral background,” the historian added.

His generosity wasn’t just limited to the Post and its readers. When the Post’s rival, the Boston Journal, found itself in financial difficulties, he paid the Journal’s workers out of his own pocket for several weeks.

Grozier died in his Cambridge home on May 9, 1924, after writing several editorials. He was replaced as owner and publisher by his son, Richard, who led the Ponzi coverage in 1920. The Post continued to operate until 1956, when it shut down.

While Grozier’s impact was felt across the industry, none may have felt it more than his employees. As he wrote to an employee of 50 years upon his retirement:

“I hope that through these many years, you have come to regard the Post not merely as a place to work, but in a certain sense as an industrial home, and have come to regard the members of the Post staff, who are so zealously working with you, not merely as co-workers for a weekly stipend, but as members of the Post family — all interested in the welfare and in the happiness of one another.

“I have never regarded the Post as merely a piece of private property, to be conducted for mercenary ends, but rather as an institution to be managed for the public good, and to be made a force in the community for the promotion of the welfare of our city, state, and nation.”

Originally published in the Cape Codder, March 26, 2021.

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