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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.*

Horse Trading
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.

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.

Atwood and Pratt asked, "How will you incorporate?"

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, wise counselors."

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 his strength.

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.

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