Kellogg, Samuel H.

1839 - 1899
Missionary, linguist and writer

Samuel Henry Kellogg was born on September 6, 1839 to Rev Samuel Kellogg, a Presbyterian minister, and Mary Kellogg (née P. Henry) at Quiogue, Suffolk Co., Long Island, New York. When he was very young, he fell seriously ill. Kellogg’s family and friends gathered around his bed, fearing the worst. A devout woman from his father's church prayed fervently for his recovery. Eventually, she announced, "God has answered my prayers. The boy will survive and one day preach the Gospel”.[1]

In 1856, Kellogg joined Williams College but ill health compelled him to leave after the first session. Two years later, he entered Princeton College and graduated with honours in 1861. Kellogg pursued theological studies at Princeton, completing his course in 1864.

Kellogg was inspired to consider missionary work, particularly to India, after hearing Rev Henry M. Scudder preach at the First Presbyterian Church of Princeton, just before Scudder departed for India.

On April 20, 1864, Kellogg was ordained as a missionary to India by the Presbytery of Hudson. Before leaving America, he married Antoinette W. Hartwell of Montrose, Pennsylvania. In company with several other missionaries, the young couple set sail from Boston on December 20, 1864 in a merchant vessel bearing a cargo of ice to Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka).

Three days into the journey, they encountered a storm that swept the captain of the ship overboard. An inexperienced officer took command and proved to be ill-suited for the role on account of his lack of seamanship and his harsh treatment of the crew who conspired to remove him. But the plot was uncovered and thwarted. In desperation, the commander discovered that Kellogg had studied navigation and entrusted him with daily observations, deferring to the young missionary's expertise. Kellogg assumed responsibility for the late captain's nautical equipment and library and guided the ship until they reached Ceylon.

Kellogg's party from the ship reached Calcutta in May 1865 and he and his new wife travelled to Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh. Upon reaching Barhpur,[2] a station of the Farrukhabad Mission to which they had been assigned, Kellogg soon found himself solely responsible for the mission, aided by a small team of native assistants. "It was hard at first,” he wrote, "but had the good result of bringing me on in the language much faster than I should otherwise have learned it”.[3] Within six months of arriving in India, Kellogg began leading vernacular church services on a regular basis.

A natural teacher, Kellogg discovered a suitable avenue for his passion at the Anglo-vernacular school in Farrukhabad. He also took a keen interest in evangelistic efforts conducted both in the city and its surrounding villages. Throughout that initial year, he compiled notes on the Hindi language, which he had begun learning.

In 1871 Kellogg returned to America for a season of rest and recuperation. He returned to India one-and-a-half years later and was stationed at Allahabad, where the American Presbyterian Synod of India had established a theological school. Kellogg was appointed as an instructor along with his fellow missionaries, the Rev A. Brodhead and the Rev T. S. Wynkoop.

Before Kellogg left for his furlough, he saw to the completion of his most notable work—a grammar of the Hindi language. While Hindi was spoken by one-fourth of the sub-continent’s population, estimated at 70 million then spread over 248,000 square miles of northern India, the government adopted Urdu (a Persianised Hindi) as the official language.

Kellogg noticed that foreigners (British colonials) assumed that merely replacing Urdu words with Sanskritised terms made it “Hindi” and that the natives would understand them. In Kellogg’s own words: “But the early delusion on this subject was soon dispelled. When we fancied we were speaking something like ‘pure Hindi’ the villagers stared confounded at our sonorous Sanskrit terms, many of which were less familiar to them than even the Arabic and Persian of the Urdu.”[4]

Kellogg made extensive notes on the “distinctive peculiarities” between the types of Hindi prevalent in the eastern and western parts of the Indian heartland. These were later compiled into a grammar book prescribed by the government as a text to be studied by all India civil service candidates who were required to pass a Hindi language exam. Kellogg’s grammar book remains the first comprehensive compilation and classification made for popular Hindi.

In March 1876, Mrs Kellogg passed away after a brief illness. Kellogg was left with four children, two girls and two boys. In 1879, Kellogg married Sara Constance Macrum of Pittsburgh in America. 

He spent the next 15 years in the US and Canada, pastoring two large churches, the Third Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh and the St James Square Presbyterian Church in Toronto. In between, he had a tenure at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Allegheny, Pa. His service in the Theological Seminary in Allegheny ended in 1885 because some directors felt that his pronounced premillennial[5] views were not in harmony with the general teachings of the institution.

Kellogg also published profusely and was prominent in the General Assembly's work of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. His book The Jews, or Prediction and Fulfilment, an Argument for the Times was favourably received. The Light of Asia and the Light of the World appeared in 1885 and was pronounced "critical, scholarly and brilliant". One critic said that there was no other book in the English language which filled exactly its place as a thoroughly comprehensive and clearly discriminating comparison of the legend, doctrines and ethics of Buddha and of Christ.[6]

Final tenure in India

In 1892, Kellogg received a call to return to India to assist in the revision of the Hindi translation of the Old Testament. All the stakeholders[7] in the project felt that he had special qualifications for this work, as he was recognised as an expert in Hindi and was also an accomplished Hebrew scholar.[8]

In mid-December 1892, Kellogg and his family landed in Mumbai. He spent some time in evangelistic work in the district of Allahabad. Early in spring, he moved with his family to Landour in the northern Himalayas. There, together with Rev W. Hooper of the Church Missionary Society and Rev J. A. Lambert of the London Missionary Society, he began the work for which he had been called to India.

It was expected that the work would extend over a period of several years and the better air of the hills was more suited for the labour of translation. As such, a house on Landour Hill, Mussoorie[9] called "The Firs" was purchased by the Mission Board in New York for the use of Kellogg and his family.[10]

Seven or eight months of each year were spent in Landour and during the cooler months, the home of the family was in Dehra Doon, a town at the foot of the mountains. Kellogg used this opportunity to preach from the pulpit in the cities of the plains. He also delivered lectures to students in theological schools, and engaged in evangelising simple villagers. At large drawing-room gatherings, Kellogg discussed many subjects connected with apologetics. Rev W.J. P. Morrison of Dehra Doon said these were " calculated to be helpful to those who have intellectual difficulties through the agnostic objections raised against our Christian faith”.[11]

During the six hot seasons which he spent in the hills, he frequently preached at Landour and Mussoorie. Kellogg had anticipated that his Bible translation work would be finished in the summer of 1899, and arranged to return to America with his family in the spring of 1900.

Kellogg enjoyed bicycling and his physician had recommended this exercise. The terrace on which “The Firs” was built offered room for a short course. He had risen early on May 3, 1899 and after his usual toast and coffee, set off on his bicycle. But the wheel of his bicycle swerved and he fell 12 feet to his death.

After Kellogg’s death, it was decided that Hooper and Lambert would carry on with the translation work instead of a third member being added to the committee, especially as it was found that Kellogg had left very extensive notes.

At Kellogg’s well-attended funeral, one of the congregants said to a companion, ''Dr Kellogg knew his Bible well”. "Dr Kellogg knew everything well” was the quick rejoinder.[12]


  1. ^ Helen H. Holcomb, Men of Might in India Missions, The Leaders and Their Epochs 1706-1899 (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1901), 320-321, Men of might in India missions; the leaders and their epochs, 1706-1899 ( 
  2. ^ Barhpur is situated 1.6 kms from the city of Farrukhabad, and 4.8kms from the military cantonment of Fatehgarh, in present day Uttar Pradesh.
  3. ^ Holcomb, Men Of Might, 324.
  4. ^ Rev. S. H. Kellog, A Grammar of the Hindi Language, in which are treated the High Hindi, Braj, and the Eastern Hindi of the Ramayn of Tulsi Das (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, and Co. Ltd, 1893), xiii,
  5. ^ Holcomb, Men Of Might, 332.
  6. ^ Holcomb, Men Of Might, 331.
  7. ^ North India Bible Society, British and Foreign Bible Society, London, Presbyterian mission in India, and the Mission Board of Kellog’s home Church in New York.
  8. ^ Holcomb, Men Of Might, 333.
  9. ^ Hill station in India’s Uttarakhand state.
  10. ^ Holcomb, Men Of Might, 335.
  11. ^ Holcomb, Men Of Might, 337.
  12. ^ Holcomb, Men Of Might, 342.

Philip Malayil

The writer is the South Asia coordinator for


Holcomb, Helen. Men Of Might In India Missions, The Leaders and Their Epochs 1706-1899. New York: Fleming H.Revell Company, 1901.….

Kellog, S.H. A Grammar of the Hindi Language, in which are treated the High Hindi, Braj, and the Eastern Hindi of The Ramayn of Tulsi Das. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, and Co. Ltd, 1893.

Kellog, S.H. The Jews, Or Prediction and Fulfilment, An Argument for the Times. London: James Nisbet & Co, 1883. The Jews; or, Prediction and fulfilment: an argument for the times (…

Kellog, S.H. The Light of Asia and the Light of the World. Charlotte, NC: Strait Gate Publications, 2011. Kindle.