New Life from an Old Grave


The grave of the man who brought Adventism to California, Merritt G. Kellogg, has been rediscovered. After almost three years of research, on November 14, 2020, brothers Jim and Lonnie Wibberding, along with Jim’s daughter Kara, found his grave at the Oak Mound Cemetery in Healdsburg, California. Besides being the first to preach Adventism in California, M. G. Kellogg founded what are now the St. Helena Hospital and the Sydney Adventist Hospital, planted several churches, served as a missionary on the Pitcairn, and more — investing half a century to build the Adventist mission.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

This is a very exciting find for the author and his family. It is important to recognize and honor those who gave so much to lead others into fellowship with Jesus Christ. The author wrote an interesting and readable essay on his quest to find the gravestone. .


Well done, Jim! And many thanks for sharing notes on your exciting journey!


Great story Jim and inspiring, thanks for investing your time to make it known to us.


Good work Detective Jim. I hope someone has put their hand up to write Merritt’s biography for the new SDA Encyclopedia. It’s not published yet. You may be interested to know also that Merritt built the Samoa Sanitarium. There is a fine photograph of it that is attached to my article about the Sanitarium in the Encyclopedia now online. Merritt was an accomplished builder. I remember reading in the archival letter collections some years ago that when Merritt returned to California after building the Sydney Sanitarium he found it hard to pick up work with the denomination and was forced to become a chicken farmer. So sad when a man’s talents are ignored.


One afterthought Jim. Merritt’s first wife died prematurely and he remarried a much younger woman here in Australia. It gave rise to some prejudice but the happy couple weathered it. Has anyone been able to locate the graves of Merritt’s wives? Don’t take your detective cap off just yet. There’s always more to be done.


Jim, I put on my own detective cap and find that you already know about Kellogg’s first wife and where she is buried. I was wrong about a premature death. It was their son, Elder Charles Merritt Kellogg who died prematurely in 1889 of TB at 33. The second wife was Eleanor Kathleen (Nolan). They married in Australia July 29, 1895. Eleanor died in the home of their daughter, Mrs Rudat, on May 25, 1949, in LA. There is every possibility she lies in the same grave you discovered, or perhaps in the same cemetery.

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Also, thank you for the comments Walter, Mel, and George!

Thank you, Milton, for the additional information. I have not contacted the Chapel of the Pines in LA, where her cremation was handled. It’s possible that they have helpful records.

The age difference between Merritt and Eleanor is very striking. Louisa was about a decade older than Merritt but Merritt was 42 years older than Eleanor (per her baptismal record, the record of Murial’s birth, and her death certificate – compared to his vital records).

Such a tiny little grave for such a large story and important man. Had to be God’s will for you to find that tiny little marker.


Great work. I found the fascinating to earn of another Kellogg’s great contributions to the Advent Movement, the United States and world itself.

I’d like to know more about Bourdeau as well as Loughborough and S.S. McClure held a series of meeting in a little school house on Dow’s Prairie near McKinleyville/Arcata between 1885-1890. My great Grandfather Francis Monroe Burg and several siblings were baptized in the little “effort.” The little church established sent my Great G off to Healdsburg where he met Clara Couey, who’s Advent folks went to Fresno in 1886. Her father had been with Grant and Sherman home to Wisconsin and found his parents had become Adventists.

Frank and Clara were told they couldn’t marry by S.N. Haskell. She was his secretary. It was too close to the End. He was forced out of the ministry for a few years, but went on to be a founder in his own way of various conferences in the West and taught at Walla Walla for many years.

Who’s done the seminal work on the history of the Pitcairn project? I’d like to know more about the mariners and boatbuilders and Advent pioneers who made it happen?

Thanks for doing this research on Kellogg and sharing the info in a delightful, personal way.


“ He was a pioneer. We need pioneers. We could use a new band of pioneers about now.”

Indeed. What would these pioneers do?

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