BY DAPHNE ODELL
N THE SUMMER OF 1877 MERRITT G. KELLOGG, half brother of John
Harvey Kellogg and Will Keith Kellogg, was living in San Francisco. A man named
Barlow J. Smith was operating a hydrotherapy center in the city and asked Kellogg
if he would occasionally look after some of his patients in return for room
and board. Kellogg ended up staying with Mr. Smith for five months.
When Smith sold out and traded his place in San Francisco for 70 acres two miles
west of Rutherford station in California's Napa Valley, he invited Kellogg to
come and act as house physician, with the idea that he could go to and from
the city and refer patients to Smith's retreat.
While Kellogg was in Rutherford, Mr. A. B. Atwood brought his wife for three
or four weeks of treatment. When Mr. Atwood came to take his wife home, he said,
"Dr. Kellogg, wouldn't you like to run a place all your own?"
"Most assuredly," Kellogg replied, "but I don't
have any means."
"I know of a beautiful spring and a beautiful location,"
said Mr. Atwood. "I wish you'd come up and look at it."
"It is no use," said Kellogg. "I haven't any
means; I cannot start it."
"How much would it take?" asked Atwood.
"I wouldn't think of starting an institution with less
than $5,000," replied the doctor.
"Well," Atwood said, "Mr. Pratt owns the land
on the spring, and he'll help. I'll put in a thousand dollars, and I'm sure
Mr. Pratt will put in 3,000, and can't you put in a thousand?"
"Yes, I could manage a thousand," Kellogg admitted.
"There," said Atwood, "the five thousand's provided
for; now come up and see the spring."
Off to Work
On the following Sunday, about the first of December, 1877, Kellogg borrowed
Smith's horse and rode up to look the place over. After seeing the property,
he said to Atwood and Pratt, "That is just the place. Now if you brethren
can put in four thousand, I think we can make a go of it."
Pratt said, "I'll put in $3,000."
"I'll be good for a thousand," said Atwood.
Kellogg said, "I'll stand the other thousand with time
and such things as I need and such things as I have."
On December 10 Kellogg moved to the St. Helena area and lived
in a little room about 12 feet square, located at the foot of a grade near William
Pratt's barn. With pick and shovel, they built the first road up the hill.
Frank Lamb, the Benson brothers, and a fourth unnamed person
joined the project. Later Kellogg's brother, P. S. Kellogg, came to help.
While the men were working on the road, Lamb told Kellogg that
he had heard Ellen White say in a meeting in Oakland, "We are going to
have a health institute on the Pacific Coast." Someone had asked if she
could say where. She said she could say only that it would be necessary to go
across the water to get to it. Kellogg asked when she had said that, and he
said he thought it had been about two years before. Kellogg hadn't heard of
her having made that statement, so he decided to write and ask James and Ellen
White to come to St. Helena and see the place.
In response to the invitation, James and Ellen White did go
to look at the site. They stayed at William Pratt's home overnight. In the morning
they went up the hill with Kellogg and carefully inspected the area. At this
time the men were still working on the road, and no buildings had been built.
Ellen remarked that she had seen the road and its surroundings in vision. A
stock company was formed, establishing the "Rural Health Retreat Association,"
with Pratt as president, Atwood as treasurer, and Kellogg as manager. The trustees
had their inaugural meeting on February 15, 1878.*
After building the road, the men commenced hauling lumber for the building.
Kellogg ordered the lumber, and Atwood took Pratt's team of horses to haul it.
But they soon discovered that Pratt's horses were too small. "We must have
a larger team," Kellogg said to his coworkers.
About that time a man named Healey came to look at the project. Kellogg said,
"Elder Healey, I wish we had a larger team."
"Father Morrison has got a pair of five-year-old horses
he just brought in from San Joaquin County," Healey said. "He had
a farm there, and the feed ran short and the horses were greatly reduced. I
think you can get those horses."
Kellogg went to Santa Rosa and stayed overnight with Mr. Morrison.
In the morning he said, "Brother Morrison, I'll tell you why I came over.
We're building a sanitarium. Brother Healey tells me you have a pair of young
horses you have no use for. I thought perhaps you'd like to help us and put
those horses in as a donation. If you do, we'll count you as having $200 interest
in the institution."
Morrison told Kellogg to go over and have a look at the horses.
"They may not suit you," he said.
Kellogg saw that they were sound and healthy, but thin. He said,
"That's all right; they're worth $200."
Kellogg put a saddle on one and a halter on the other and rode
them back over the mountain to St. Helena.
With the four or five young men working with them on the project,
they laid the foundation and framed the two-story building that measured 28
by 72 feet. The first floor included a parlor, an office, one bedroom, a dining
room, a treatment room, and a combined kitchen, pantry, and storeroom. There
were 12 bedrooms on the second floor. For the stairway and the rail Kellogg
sent the dimensions and the pitch to a stair builder in San Francisco. The stairs
and rail arrived in pieces, and Kellogg installed them. Young men helped lay
the floor. They arranged for a man to install the lathe, Pratt did the plastering
and built the chimneys, and the building was completed.
Looking Toward the Future
As they were working on the project, Kellogg said to Atwood and Pratt, "Brethren,
the time is coming when we will not be big enough for this institution. We have
got to make provision so that our brethren will feel free to come in and join
us. We have to incorporate. I think the best thing is to incorporate right here
before we get finished. Then, if we lack means, we'll get the brethren to assist
us." At that time the Battle Creek Sanitarium was running as a joint stock
company, paying dividends that all went back into the work.
Atwood and Pratt asked, "How will you incorporate?"
The Kellogg File
Merritt G. Kellogg may have been the first Seventh-day Adventist
in California, moving to the state in 1859. At the 1868 General Conference session,
he made an appeal that led to J. N. Loughborough and D. T. Bourdeau being assigned
to do evangelistic meetings in California.
In 1893 Kellogg went to the South Sea Islands as a medical
missionary. He sailed on the Pitcairn's second trip. Later, in Australia,
he designed and superintended the building of the Sydney Sanitarium.
In 1903 he retired in Healdsburg, California. He died in 1921,
at the age of 89.*
* Source: Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, vol. 10,
pp. 853, 854.
Kellogg answered, "The same as the one in Battle Creek.
We will make it a joint stock company, putting the shares at $10 each, and we'll
take our stock. I'll take 100 shares, Brother Atwood 100, and Brother Pratt
400. But in order to incorporate, we've got to have five men; the law requires
that there shall be five trustees, and they must all be stockholders. Who shall
we get? We want good men; men that have the cause at heart and will be good,
One of the men suggested James Creamer. The other suggested
J. Mavity, who lived up over the mountains. They were comparative strangers
to Kellogg, but he did know both of them from church. So he said, "That's
satisfactory." On Sabbath when they came to church, Kellogg asked them
if they would be willing to come some Sunday and talk the matter over.
Creamer said, "I'm willing to help, but I have no money
to put in."
Kellogg said, "That's not necessary; I'll give you a couple
of my shares." Pratt also gave them each a share in order to make them
stockholders. They drew up the articles of incorporation that had to be recorded
in Sacramento with the Secretary of State.
Kellogg sent the articles of incorporation, capital stock $50,000,
for a 50-year term. He said, "We have no idea whether we want to run the
institution for 50 years, but we'll go the extent of the law in the matter,
and if time should continue we don't have to change."
The building was completed about the last of May, and during
that week Kellogg wrote out eight or 10 lines for the newspaper to tell the
public what they were doing. The notice in the newspaper included the name of
the institution, Rural Health Retreat; a suggestion that those wishing to leave
the cities could come out into the mountains to spend a few days, weeks, or
months; and an invitation to invalids who desired to recover their health to
come and benefit from the program at the retreat.
So many letters arrived that Kellogg had to write to the newspaper
and ask that the advertisement be removed from the paper before the week for
which he had paid was over. Five days after the advertisement appeared, he received
letters notifying him that on the following Tuesday or Wednesday different people
interested in coming to the retreat would be arriving--14 of them.
"What'll we do?" Atwood asked in a panic. "We
haven't got a carpet, nor an article of furniture."
Kellogg said, "We'll run down to Napa tomorrow morning and get those things
on Friday, part of them. Monday we'll get them down and be ready."
On June 7 the team met their first 14 patients. They kept coming,
and at the end of five months not only was the retreat full, but they had to
pitch tents for their helpers to sleep in. They not only met their expenses;
they brought in $500 above expenses.
Meet Me in St. Helena
About that time Kellogg received a letter from Fresno, asking him to meet the
train on which J. D. Rice, a school teacher from Fresno County, would be coming.
The letter stated that he was dying from malarial fever.
Kellogg went to the St. Helena train station on the specified
date, and asked the conductor if there was a sick man on the train. The conductor
led him to Mr. Rice, where he lay in the train, unconscious. Kellogg carried
him out, placed him in the wagon, and drove him up to the retreat. He put him
through a course of treatments, and in four or five weeks Rice began regaining
While Rice was still at the Rural Health Retreat, Atwood and
Kellogg began talking about needing an addition to the retreat. Kellogg said
to Atwood, "We have to have an extension."
"Brother Rice is ready to put in a few hundred dollars," Atwood observed.
So they went to work. Kellogg, with his own hands and with the
help of others, chipped out the wall and added 30 feet to the retreat. Now known
as the St. Helena Hospital and Health Center, it is the oldest, continuously
operating Seventh-day Adventist hospital in the world.
*Warren L. Johns and Richard H. Utt, eds., The Vision Bold, Review
and Herald Publishing Association, p. 111.
Daphne Odell is a great-granddaughter of Ellen G. White. This story is based
on notes taken by her father, W. C. White, from conversations with Merritt Kellogg.