What stands out the most in the Kellogg family history, is the highly successful “Spencer Kellogg & Sons Company.“
The story begins with Supplina Kellogg, born in 1790, in West Galway, New York. He began a linseed oil business, owning and operating a grist mill (with his neighbors, the Millers) and soon bought another mill in Amsterdam (NY) to save on shipping costs.
Supplina’s three children were John, George, and Lauren. Lauren Kellogg, born in 1824, would go on to marry Elizabeth Miller. Lauren, along with his two brothers, grew up to join the linseed oil business. Lauren studied at Union College in Schenectady, NY, and enjoyed reading sermons at the West Galway Presbyterian church.
Lauren Kellogg died young, at the age of thirty, of what was called “quick consumption.” He was swimming in a large vat at his plant and suddenly became ill. His doctors starved and bled him in order to treat him, but very soon he passed away.
Lauren Kellogg and Elizabeth Miller (Kellogg) had two children: Martha (Mattie) Kellogg and Spencer Kellogg.
Elizabeth was originally born in Inverness, Scotland, and then moved to New York with her family at age eighteen. The ship that sailed them from Scotland to the United States caught fire and smoldered until the arrival in New York City. They settled in West Galway, where they would be neighbors with the Kelloggs.
Before marrying Lauren, Elizabeth was a school teacher in Amsterdam, NY. After Lauren’s sudden passing, Elizabeth became widowed at the young age of thirty. Her sister, Annie, helped her raise their two children. Both ladies managed financially through small pensions from the linseed oil business (Kellogg & Miller) and rent money from her brother, Jim. She died a “natural death” at the age of seventy-eight.
Son of Lauren and Elizabeth, Spencer Kellogg was born on June 16, 1851, in West Galway, New York. He and his family moved to Amsterdam, NY, while he was very young. Only two years-old at the time of his father (Lauren’s) death, he was essentially raised by his mother and aunt. As a boy, Spencer was known to be a prankster, one of his many stunts resulting in the loss of a finger!
Spencer never attended college, and instead, went straight to work at the Kellogg and Miller business. He earned $1.50 a day. He married Jane Morris in 1875 — daughter of a banker, Abram Morris, the only millionaire in Amsterdam at the time.
There was great hostility among Spencer’s two uncles, who wanted him out of the linseed oil business. He once entered the office with a lantern and pieced together a ripped up paper with written proof that they were hoping to push him out. Upon finding this, he asked for his share of the business in cash ($40,000) and left for Des Moines, Iowa, with wife and kids.
Following the move, he invested the money at the bank he now worked at. Eighteen months later, he moved back to New York and bought the linseed oil business from his two uncles. And thus, Spencer Kellogg & Sons was born.
Spencer and Jane had many children — eight to be exact! (Spencer Kellogg Jr., Elizabeth Miller Kellogg Jr., Howard Kellogg, Gertrude Miller Kellogg, Morris Kellogg, Ruth Kellogg, Doris Kellogg, and Donald Kellogg.) First born, Spencer Kellogg Jr., was originally president of the company. After moving California, Howard took on the role.
Located in Buffalo, NY on Delaware Avenue, Spencer Kellogg & Sons was vastly triumphant. It manufactured brooms, paints, varnishes, white lead, iron, steel, linseed oil, and coconut oil. Cakes made from the mash of leftover linseed oil was sold to dairy farmers in Holland for feed. They bought the process for making oleo margarine and tasteless castor oil. Chemist, Dr. Alexander Sckawrzman, helped further develop these processes. Alongside, they had shipping offices in Manila and South Africa.
A very religious man with high morals, Spencer refused to have any alcohol in his household — even cough syrup that contained the slightest amount of it. He attended Westminster Presbyterian Church in Buffalo. His favorite hymn was “Let the Lower Lights Keep Burning,” which he often sung to his children. Spencer made many charitable donations, including $5,000 to a contest winner of the best code of ethics written by a child. Also, he gave $20,000 away to a group of collaborators to teach this code in public education.
On November 14th (writer’s note — that’s my birthday!) in 1922, Spencer passed away “peacefully” at the age of seventy-two. His obituary in the Buffalo Express stated, “That during a period of great capitalist movement where wealth meant evil and greed, Spencer was never a tyrant or enemy of labor.” After his passing, his wife, Jane, made a major contribution in his name in support of the Kellogg Hall of Astronomy and the Kellogg Observatory at the Buffalo Museum of Science. It memorialized Spencer’s passion for astronomy and botany.
Spencer Kellogg’s legacy lives on, with many articles (like this one, and this one) recollecting what he left behind. In summer 2014, an article in Western New York Heritage was published about Spencer Kellogg’s story. Before his death, he published an autobiography “From Boyhood to Manhood: Father,” about the first twenty years of his life.
This following is a video of the Ruth Kellogg steamship. Dr. Alexander Sckawrzman, the head chemist who significantly propelled Spencer Kellogg’s & Sons forward, is shown here. I believe the other man, with cigar and glasses, is Whitney Case. And I believe Howard Kellogg is shown at 6:30. The ship is on its way to Arica, Chile, South America.
Some further notes on Spencer & Jane’s children…
- Spencer Kellogg, Jr. was president of the Spencer Kellogg & Sons before passing on the role to younger brother, Howard. His religious belief was Hinduism. He was an avid photographer.
- Elizabeth Miller Kellogg Jr. was a Christian Scientist Healer.
- Howard Kellogg graduated from Harvard in three years, was a gymnast, and eventually president of Spencer Kellogg & Sons.
- Gertrude Miller Kellogg, like her sister, was also a Christian Scientist Healer.
- Morris Kellogg died as an infant, at nineteen days.
- Ruth Kellogg was a harp player and studied to be an opera singer in Paris and Berlin.
- Doris Kellogg served in WWI when she was 18.
- Donald Kellogg was a pianist.
Now, this brings us to Howard Kellogg, born in 1881. He is the son of Spencer and Jane, grandson of Lauren and Elizabeth, and great-grandson of Supplina Kellogg.
Howard married Cyrena Case, and they had three children together — Martha, Howard Jr., and Spencer Jr.. After Cyrena Case Kellogg’s sudden death, Howard would later go on to marry Anne May Bowen.
Here is a video of Howard, Cyrena, and their son, Howard Jr., doing archery:
Howard and Cyrena absolutely loved horseback riding and partook in racing competitions. The following is a video of the family at their cabin in Hunter’s Creek and then riding at the Derby Horse show:
It’s very clear that Howard and Cyrena were super passionate about horses!
Cyrena Case (Kellogg) tragically died when she was around forty-years old during a horseback riding incident. She went out doing what she loved.
Their son, Spencer Kellogg Jr., is my grandfather. Now, there may be some confusion around his name. So let’s back up to the original Spencer Kellogg. He had a son named Spencer Kellogg Jr., but he never had children of his own to pass down the family name. And so, his brother Howard passed it on — technically making him the third Spencer, but sticking to the single lineage between his father and grandfather, that would make him the second. He was born in December, 1913.
Spencer Kellogg II’s passion was flying!
Spencer learned to fly as a teen, and would continue flying throughout his age, eventually giving my parents a ride on his airplane in his late, elderly years! Grandfather was a distinguished gentleman, but clearly had a little spark of daredevil inside of him!
Spencer married Mary Lou Webster, who was from Buffalo, NY.
Here is video footage of their wedding:
Spencer II and Mary Lou, my grandfather and grandmother, went on to have five kids — Spencer III, Jean, Dick, Mimi, and Dave — my aunts and uncles, with Dave being my dad. Dave and Mimi are twins, and they are the youngest.
The baby boy in these videos are my dad:
My grandparents were fortunate enough to live long lives. Grandmother lived until she was 89, and Grandfather to 99! While Grandfather was always passionate about flying, my Grandmother was interested in sailing. My dad certainly inherited her joy for sailing, taking part in sailing teams and competitions from childhood, to college, throughout adulthood and has no plans on stopping anytime soon! He has travelled around the world for sailing and once qualified to try out for the Olympics. Today, he still partakes in competitions and volunteer programs. My dad married my mom, Cynthia (Cyndy) Lutz in 1985, and has three children — Scott, Julia, and Laura (me!)
I am bewildered to look back and see the success in my family history. Howard sold Spencer Kellogg & Sons to Textron for stocks, which have been passed on through the generations. The business itself is long gone, but it’s crazy to see how the history remains, and I hope this information can be remembered and passed on — whether it be my future children, or the many other Kellogg kids and theirs. As cool as it is to know that my great-great grandfather started a wealthy venture, it’s even cooler to know that his main priority fatherhood and having a strong, moral compass.