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A Public Spirited Man



Florentine Erwin Kellogg was a public spirited man. Although he took an active interest in politics, he always refused to become a candidate for office. His public spirit manifested itself in the promotion of the public welfare. At a very early period he established a circulating library at his home in Napa Valley.

He was the principal builder of the old White Church, near his home which was erected in 1853, and which stood as a landmark of pioneer days, for more than fifty years, until destroyed by fire on September 12, 1906. He kept one room in his house known as the "preachers room," from which opened the upstairs window seen in the picture of the house, which was especially dedicated to the use of the pioneer preachers, who always found a cordial welcome, and where they could stay as long as they pleased "without money and without price."

In 1856 he became a liberal patron of the University of the Pacific, by purchasing scholarships for his children in aid of the young institution, the scholarships to be valid whenever he saw fit to use them. He used a few of the coupons educating his eldest daughter, and the remainder were used by his grand children nearly fifty years later. Also used by his great-great-great granddaughter, Kathleen Ann Kellogg, in the l980's.

In about 1866, he established, principally at his own expense, a line of public wells and watering troughs at convenient distances all the way from his home to Napa City, a distance of about 23 miles.

After leaving Napa Valley he became one of the pioneers of the Goleta Valley of Santa Barbara County in 1872.

There being no church building in the Goleta Valley at that time, he soon began to interest the people in the building of a Methodist church. Finally on October 11, 1875, a board of five trustees was chosen, and a building committee was appointed of which he was made chairman. With his characteristic energy he immediately went to work, and in less than two months the people were assembling in the new church, which had cost, unfinished on the inside $1,500 of which he, his wife Martha, and his stepdaughter-in-law Mrs. Margaret Ellison paid more than one half, not including the lot, which was donated by the late I.G. Foster.

His principal writings were a few poems, an autobiography, a short sketch of his life, and several theological dissertations. As illustative of his style I will here append a small portion of the short sketch , written May 15, 1889, which was read at his funeral by Rev. W.A.Knighten on October 2, 1889.

"I started with my family for California, in company with about three hundred and seventy-five other persons, mostly men.
After crossing the western boundary of the State of Missouri, we passed through no white settlements and no other trading posts, excepting Fort Laramie, until we reached California, making an unbroken stretch of wilderness of more than twenty-three hundred miles.
Over all this distance I carried one sack of corn, and had it ground at a mill in Napa Valley , Cal., this being, as I suppose, the greatest distance that corn was ever taken to a mill in a wagon.

We arrived in Napa Valley, Calif., on the 10th of October, 1846, thankful that we had survived the many privations and hardships of the long and perilous journey.

We were now upon the extreme western border of the American Continent, beyond which the pioneer could not penetrate; but it was a land where nature was so rich in the profusion of her gifts, that the most extravagent frontiersman could wish for nothing more, for he had an unfailing store-house at hand from which to supply all his daily returning wants.

And, much as I appreciate and admire the marvelous growth and development of our golden State, yet my happiest days here were from 1846 to 1860, when the forests were teeming with game, and when the ties of friendship were of that strong and intimate character only found where mutual dependence binds men together in the closest bonds of neighborly affection.

Soon after my arrival I purchased a farm in Napa Valley, about half way between the present towns of St. Helena and Calistoga, where I resided until 1870, employing myself principally with fruit growing, farming and the running of my machine shop.

Although I am now borne down by intense physical suffering, and know that the shadows are rapidly deepening, yet by faith I look beyond the sunset and behold the gates of the city where the inhabitants are never sick, where so many of my loved ones await my coming, and where I expect to receive 'an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away."