J. N. Loughborough, a slight but vigorous member of the Battle Creek, Michigan, congregation, was appointed fund raiser for the new medical institution to be built there. He visited the various church members, soliciting funds, but had no success until he came to the broom factory of John Preston Kellogg, who also was a member of the local congregation. When Loughborough asked Kellogg to support the new institution, Kellogg asked how much money he had raised thus far. Loughborough replied, "Nothing, yet."
Kellogg straightened his shoulders, took the contributors' list from Loughborough's hand, and signed his name boldly along with the figure $500. "Understand," he said, "that $500 is a seed to start the new institution, sink or swim."
Kellogg worked in his broom factory from 12 to 14 hours a day for just 75 cents. In pledging $500 he had pledged over two years' wages. And he had 16 children. But considering that American medicine, as practiced in that prescientific era, had cost him the life of his first wife and his beloved baby daughter and had caused him much personal suffering, it is not difficult to understand why Kellogg was motivated to give $500.
Loughborough was overjoyed. He ran over to the White residence on Wood Street, where Ellen White pledged another $500.
Western Health Reform Institute Opens
The church promptly began a national fund-raising campaign, collected over $11,000, and purchased a farm on the edge of Battle Creek, Michigan, then, a flourishing manufacturing town of 5,000. There the Western Health Reform Institute opened its doors on September 5, 1866, with a staff of two physicians (Drs. H. S. Lay and Phoebe Lamson), one nurse, three or four helpers, and two bath attendants. Facilities for the "watercure" included an 80-foot windmill capable of filling a barrel in three to five minutes, given a moderate breeze. With a built-in water heater, it was possible to temper the water "to any degree of heat required for the various baths to be given."
The new Institute was a success from the beginning. Rates, including room, meals, nursing care, treatments, and medical care, ranged from five to seven dollars per week. During the first two months patients came from nine eastern states and Canada. They came in such large numbers that they had to stay in surrounding farmhouses because there was not room enough for them at the Institute.
Over the next few years the church members and stockholders saw the crowded conditions and pressed for larger buildings. But a few of the church leaders--particularly James and Ellen White--realized there were not enough physicians to serve more patients adequately. They urged instead that more physicians be educated. In the fall of 1872 they sent four promising young people to the Hygieo-Therapeutic College in New Jersey. At the end of the course James White encouraged the most promising of the four, John Harvey Kellogg (John Preston Kellogg's tenth child) to attend the Medical School of the University of Michigan, and then loaned him $1,000 for further education at Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York. There he was one of a select group of six students who received daily instructions from the prestigious Dr. Austin Flint, Sr., and Dr. Edward Janeway--this, in addition to the regular medical course from which he was graduated on February 25, 1875. Throughout his life Kellogg engaged in arduous study of medical journals, textbooks, and clinical problems, investing, by 1908, $15,000 in a personal medical library and $50,000 in observation of and instruction by American and European specialists, particularly noted surgeons.
Western Health Reform Institute Becomes Sanitarium
When John Harvey Kellogg, M.D., joined the Institute staff in 1875, he began a professional career that was to span 68 years. A year later, in 1876, he was appointed Medical Superintendent of the Institute. Since its beginnings in 1866 the Institute had been a "sanatorium," an establishment that provided therapy by physical agents (such as hydrotherapy) combined with diet, exercise, and other measures for treatment or rehabilitation. However, the next year, 1877, Kellogg changed the name of the Institute to the Battle Creek Medical and Surgical Sanitarium. The word "sanitarium" means the same as sanatorium, but Kellogg invested "sanitarium" with the concept of sanitation--it would identify the institution as one in which "sanitary" precautions were taken to prevent the growth and spread of germs.
He chose this spelling of the word sanitarium in 1877, the same year that Joseph Lister, surgeon to Queen Victoria, having experimented with "antiseptic surgery," was appointed chief surgeon at King's College near London. It was also in 1877 that Louis Pasteur presented his "germ theory" to the French Academy of Sciences. Kellogg believed the Sanitarium's name "would come to mean a Ôplace where people learn to stay well.'1 Kellogg often remarked in later years that the Sanitarium was more a Ôuniversity of health' than it was a hospital. He consistently regarded the institution's teaching function as its most important aspect."2
During its first ten years, from 1866 to 1876, the Western Health Reform Institute had served 2,000 patients. Of these, ten died: an average of one a year. So unusual was this record that the new institution was soon projected to national prominence. This record was set during the ten years before Koch and Pasteur first demonstrated (in 1876) that the anthrax microbe produced the disease anthrax. This discovery implied that specific microbes will produce specific diseases unless precautions are taken to prevent their spread.
The Koch/Pasteur discovery opened the era of modern scientific microbiology and forced the generally skeptical medical profession to concede that the sanitary measures recommended by earlier (but less persuasive) researchers--measures such as washing hands thoroughly before examining wounds or before surgery--were necessary to prevent contagion. By 1885 the Battle Creek Sanitarium was "the largest institution of its kind in the world."3 In 1926 it had a service staff of 1,800 and in 1927, accommodations for over 1,500 patients. Its giant furnaces and boilers burned 55 tons of coal a day. By 1938 the Sanitarium facilities included 32 buildings on 27.5 acres of land and a dining room for 800 guests.4
Famous Guests and Patients
Famous guests and patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium or one of its satellite institutions included:
Industrialists: Henry Ford; James Buick; Harvey Firestone; John D. Rockefeller, Jr.; Alfred du Pont; Joseph H. Patterson, founder of the National Cash Register Company; Joseph Cannon, towel manufacturer; Edgar Welch, grape juice producer; A. E. McKinstry, president of International Harvester; E. H. Little, president of Colgate-Palmolive Company; and General David Sarnoff, president of Radio Corporation of America.
Businessmen: J. C. Penney; Montgomery Ward; R. H. and A.H. Kress; and S. S. Kresge.
Writers, editors, and publishers: Dr. Morris Fishbein, editor of Journal of the American Medical Association; George Bernard Shaw, British novelist and playwright; C. W. Barron, publisher of the Wall Street Journal and Barron's Weekly; Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People; Will Durant, Pulitzer prize-winning philosopher-historian; and Colonel Frank Knox, publisher of the Chicago Daily News.
Musicians: Harry F. McLean, director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; Jose Iturbi and Percy Grainger, concert pianists; Homer Rodeheaver, gospel singer.
Sportsmen: Bill Tilden, tennis champion; Gene Sarazen, golfer; Johnny Weissmuller, champion swimmer.
Politicians: William Howard Taft, president of the United States; W. A. Julian, treasurer of the United States; George W. Wickersham, attorney general; William Jennings Bryan, secretary of state; Frank Knox, secretary of the navy; James J. Davis, secretary of labor; plus governors, congressmen, and senators. President Taft was patient number 100,000.
Scientists: Ivan Pavlov, Nobel prize-winning Russian physiologist; Sir Frederick Grant Banting, discoverer of insulin and also a Nobel prize winner; Drs. Charles and William Mayo of the Mayo Clinic; Dr. William M. Scholl, manufacturer of foot appliances and remedies.
Inventor Thomas A. Edison; comedian Eddie Cantor; world traveler Lowell Thomas; big-game hunter Martin Johnson; explorer Admiral Richard Byrd; oil men Harry F. Sinclair and L. E. Phillips.
Horticulturist Luther Burbank; naturalist-author John Burroughs; educator Booker T. Washington; Red Cross founder Clara Barton; evangelist Billy Sunday; pilot Amelia Earhart.
Amelia Earhart took Kellogg for an airplane ride over Battle Creek. Admiral Byrd counseled with Kellogg about diet before making his two major expeditions to explore the North and South Poles. Johnny Weissmuller, Olympic champion swimmer and one of the best-known Tarzan actors, came to Battle Creek to dedicate the Sanitarium's new 120-foot swimming pool. After following a vegetarian diet prescribed by Kellogg, Weissmuller broke his previous record, swimming 300 meters in 3 minutes, 33.6 seconds, a record he had tried to break for several years. Weissmuller had broken 54 world records.5
The Battle Creek Sanitarium practiced both curative and preventive medicine, but emphasized prevention. Patients came to be healed and were given treatments or surgery, but great efforts were made to teach them how to prevent illness, how to promote and preserve health. The Sanitarium had the reputation of being among the most scientific in the world, both in technique and equipment. It used medications when necessary but emphasized a simple, natural life and an intelligent diet. The institution's philosophy was that many diseases are caused by a violation of nature's laws and that the best way to prevent such disease is to obey those laws. The moving force largely responsible for the institution's phenomenal success was Dr. Kellogg.