Day 120: Ensign H. Kellogg

Saturday April 30, 2011

Like many men who helped shape Pittsfield in the 19th century, Ensign H. Kellogg liked to have his hands on many day-to-day activities. Kellogg, though, stood apart from others by not seeing the world in a conventional way.

Regardless of how you want to view Kellogg, he was "a picturesque figure who for half a century stood on the front ranks of the city's leaders." Born in Sheffield in 1812, he graduated from Amherst College in 1836.

Kellogg came to Pittsfield in 1838 and married Caroline Campbell in 1941, becoming a part of one of the more influential families in town. And Kellogg used that fact to align himself with the local power brokers of the day. A bright man with savvy, Kellogg was named president of the Pontoosuc Woolen Manufacturing Co. in 1861 and president of the Agricultural National Bank in 1866. He held both positions until his death in January 1882.

Kellogg was the first elected representative from Pittsfield to the General Court in Boston. That occurred in 1843, and he was elected to serve nine more times, the last time being in 1876. Twice the speaker of the lower house, he also had three terms representing the Berkshire District in the state Senate.

Kellogg wrapped up his political life by serving under President Rutherford B. Hayes. Kellogg was the U.S. representative on an international commission that met in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to "adjust disputes" regarding the Canadian fisheries.

An ardent fan of literature, Kellogg was best known to Pittsfield citizens as a great speech-maker. By all accounts his voice was "melodious." That, combined with his ability to articulate, made him a popular figure regardless of what subject he was speaking about.

Like his literary idol Charles Dickens, Kellogg was "a sympathizing appreciator of quaint and strongly marked human types." He also was fond of the "graces of life," and enjoyed music and art.

Whether it was a 24-hour session just reading the classics or fishing in his favorite trout stream, Kellogg did pretty much what he wanted, when he wanted. In later years he bought a tract of land to the north of the city's downtown and named it "Morningside." He built a miniature Swiss chalet on the property and secluded himself when he needed to get away.

Kellogg worked hard and played hard. That, for the most part, is his legacy.


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