Herrick Memorial Library at Alfred University

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  • Alfred University
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  • Alfred, NY 14802
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Ella Eaton Kellogg

1853 – 1920
Alfred University, Class of 1872

Everyday, millions of people enjoy a morning bowl of corn flakes or a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Some may know that the inventor of corn flakes and peanut butter is none other than the famed Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, part of the cereal manufacturing family and proprietor of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. His work at the Sanitarium was profiled in the1993 book The Road to Wellville by T. Coraghessan Boyle, and the movie by the same name, starring Matthew Broderick and Anthony Hopkins.

What most people don't know, and what is particularly important to alumni of Alfred University, is that Dr. Kellogg's wife, Ella Eaton Kellogg, is also a member of the Alfred family. Born in Alfred in 1853, Ella Eaton attended the local school and academy until she was sixteen, and soon after entered Alfred University. In 1872, "[w]hen she was just three months beyond nineteen, she received the degree A.B.[Bachelor of Arts] for completion of the classical course. The president [Jonathan Allen] spoke of her as 'the youngest Daughter of the University,' since no one before her had gained her diploma at so early an age. In 1885 her Alma Mater conferred on her the degree of A.M.[Master of Arts]."

After graduation, she took charge of a community school in Harmony, NJ. She taught there for three years and then made a summer trip that changed her life. She visited an aunt who lived in Battle Creek, MI. Once there, a typhoid fever epidemic broke out and she stayed on to nurse many of the sick. It was through this work that she met Dr. Kellogg.

He was so impressed with her that he invited her to be a charter member of his School of Hygiene. "A fine essay read before the School of Hygiene showed [him] that Miss Eaton possessed unusual literary ability. Another circumstance later acquainted [him] with another trait of her character - absolute reliability and responsibility for any trust reposed in her hands and unswerving devotion to duty."

So devoted to duty was she that her life became filled with activities centered around improving the lives of others. In the midst of running her household and homeschooling her children, she wrote articles for Good Health, supervised the Haskell Home for Orphans (where she took many of them home. "The family under her own roof numbered usually about twenty."), directed the Sanitarium School of Cookery, developed the Sanitarium's dietary system, and also, "for more than twenty years, she prepared the bills of fare for breakfast, dinner and supper for the tables of both patients and helpers at the Sanitarium, - a family aggregating from a thousand to fifteen hundred persons, - six separate menus every day in the year...".

In addition, Mrs. Kellogg eventually became the National Superintendent of the Health and Social Purity Departments of the National W.C.T.U., organized the first Health Institute, and was Chairman of the World's Fair Committee on Food Supplies for Michigan. She penned three books, Science in the Kitchen, Studies in Character Building, and Talks with Girls.

She continued to handle these and other various duties even though she continually had ill health and, by middle age, had become deaf.

After her death in 1920, Dr. Kellogg wrote a small book, In Memoriam: Ella Eaton Kellogg, from which the above quotes were taken. In 1923, the University received $1000 to establish the "Eaton Memorial Scholarship in Alfred University."

She was a remarkable woman of whom Alfred University can be proud.