Irene Sprunger

Dr Lena Sadler & Dr William S. Sadler

Dr Lena Sadler MD (1875─1939)
American physician, surgeon, and obstetrician─leader in women's health issues
Contact Commission, Forum

Dr William S Sadler MD (1875-1969)
American physician, author, humorous orator, and teacher
Contact Commission, Forum, Chair of the Committee on Education

Early life

Dr Lena was in private practice, thirty-three years in association with her physician husband, Dr William S Sadler in Chicago, Illinois. Born Lena Celesta Kellogg in Abscota (Wet Prairie), Michigan, on June 9, 1875, she was the daughter of Smith Moses Kellogg and Susan Dickinson, both descendants of the villagers of Hadley, Massachusetts. She had three older brothers, Arthur, Walter, and Charles, and one sister, Anna Bell. Lena and Anna Bell had a close relationship, following each other in careers and activities most of their lives.

William Samuel Sadler was born in Spencer, Owen County, Indiana, on 24 June 1875, and was named after his paternal grandfather, William Cavins Sadler, a music professor and farmer. He was the only son of Samuel Cavins Sadler, a Bible salesman and publisher, and Dr Sarah Wilson, a physician specializing in lung and throat disorders. He had twin sisters, Marie and Catherine, born on 23 Dec 1884. Catherine, named after her maternal grandmother, Catherine McNaught, died in childhood. The family moved to Battle Creek Michigan. At 14 years of age he began working at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. "The vast resort offered the combined features of a medical boardinghouse, hospital, religious retreat, country club, tent Chautauqua, and spa, all carried forward in an atmosphere of moral reform and asceticism." It was these surroundings that influenced much of the Sadlers work.

The Medical Missionary and Benevolent Society was founded in 1893 by Dr John Harvey Kellogg. In 1895, William S Sadler was the appointed Secretary. The Chicago Medical Mission developed 25 separate branches of missionary work, i.e. the Workingman's Home, the Star of Hope Mission, the Chicago Maternity, the Gospel Mission, the Children's Christian Home, the Chicago Medical Missionary Training School, the American Medical Missionary College, the Visiting Nurses' Settlement, and the Life Boat Rescue Service. William founded the Life Boat Magazine.

It was during this time that William and Lena met and married in 1897. Lena oversaw the Chicago rescue ministries for women.

In 1899 they had a son who died during his first year. From 1901-1903 they attended Cooper Medicial School in San Francisco. They worked part-time in the San Francisco Medicial Mission.

In December 1903 they returned to Chicago and pursued their medical studies at the American Medical Missionary College. They graduated with equal honors at in 1906 and set up a private practice at 100 N State Street, Chicago. The Sadlers travelled to Europe in 1904, 1911, 1919, and 1928 for medical study opportunities and lectures series.

Sometime after 1905, the Sadlers located to near or at the new sanitarium in Hinsdale IL. In 1906, Dr William Lowe Bryan, president of Indiana University at Bloomington, offered Sadler a position as head of the medical department at the University. Although they had signed the contract and had leased a house, the night before they were to move to the university, they decide that they could do more for humanity if they were free to give lectures and to write books on the adaptation of life and the maintenance of mental and physical health.2 Their second son William Samuel Sadler Jr. was born 15 Dec 1907 in La Grange, next to Hinsdale. The Sadlers started lecturing for Redpath Chautauqua Circuit in 1907 giving lectures in the Midwest and West until 1922.

"Dr. Lena," as she was called by her friends and patients was an attending obstetrician at Columbus Hospital; Fellow of the American College of Surgeons; member, American Medical Association; Medical Women's International Association; American Medical Women's Association, President 1934, Secretary 1925-26; Illinois Federation of Women's Club, Chairman Child Welfare 1925; State of Illinois Department of Public Health and Child Welfare, Chairman 1926; Chicago Council of Medical Woman, President 1929, 1930, Secretary 1924-25; Chicago Medical Society; Illinois State Medical Society; Chicago Medical Women's Club; Chicago Woman's Club; Chicago Chapter of the American Federation of Soroptimists; and Lakeview Women's Club. 

Dr. William S. Sadler was a pioneer in lecturing and writing about the preventative aspects of physical and mental hygiene. He brought the latest discoveries to the layman, lecturing through the Lyceum Association to Chautauqua assemblies and through numerous magazine articles. To learned professionals he wrote forty-two books, contributed to journals, and lectured at two universities. "He taught clinics for physicians, ministers, and laity alike that covered the entire field of mental medicine that he liked to term 'personology.'" He was a cheerful man. "Patients suffering from depression would come into his office with their chins on their chests. After listening to his inspirational exhortation for an hour they left his office walking on air. Dr Sadler would amble out of his office with a twinkle in his eye and a pleasant expression on his cherubic face."1

Dr William S Sadler MD

Dr. Sadler was a professor at the Post-Graduate Medical School of Chicago, consulting psychiatrist at Columbus Hospital, and for over twenty-five years, a professor and chairman of the department of pastoral psychology at McCormick Theological Seminary. He held memberships in the following associations: Life Fellow, American College of Surgeons; Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Fellow, American Medical Association; Fellow, American Psychiatric Association; Member, American Psycho-Pathological Association; Member Illinois Psychiatric Association; Member; Chicago Society for Personality Study; Member, Chicago Medical Society; Member, Illinois State Medical Society; Board member, W. K. Kellogg Foundation; National Association of Authors and Journalists; founder member and governing board, Gorgas Memorial Institute in Tropical and Preventive Medicine.

During the 1920s, Dr Lena prepared a history of medical women in Illinois, and directed the survey of the mid-wives of Chicago under the auspices of the Chicago Health Department. As Chairman of Child Welfare of the Illinois Federation of Women's Clubs in 1925 and 1926, she was instrumental in bring about working cooperation between four great organizations of the state—the Illinois State Medical Society, the Illinois State Dental Society, the State Department of Public Health, and the Illinois Federation Women's Clubs—in a united health project for the state. As State Chairman of Public Health and Child Welfare, she stressed public health for adults as well as for children. In an article in the Chicago Tribune of January 22, 1928 entitled "Woman's Club Annals Reveal Service to City", it states, "An equal source of pride with this incomplete record, in club circles, is the list of prominent members of these and earlier years. It includes Mrs. J Paul Good, recently deceased; Dr. Lena Sadler, Jane Addams.

In 1921, the husband and wife medical team bought a three-story building with a residence on each floor, the first steel-framed home in Chicago. The doctor offices were on the first floor. In 1922, Emma L Christensen though not formally adopted became an accepted a member of the family; once she identified herself to an inquirer as their "foster daughter." In 1924, a group of their friends and former associates gathered on Sunday afternoons to socialize and discuss different topics of interest. The Sadlers and other witnesses introduced the Urantia Papers phenomena to this larger group later known as the Forum in 1924 which eventuated in the Urantia Brotherhood in 1955. The Sadlers hosted this party of interested people in their home for Sunday afternoon tea, just as Lena had hosted numerous women physicians attending Chicago conferences in order to found the American Medical Association Women's organization. "It was while these informal discussions were going on from week to week that the challenge came to us suggesting that if we would ask more serious questions we might get information of value to all mankind."1

Dr Lena was an outstanding leader who took initiative, made decisions, and assumed amazing responsibilities. Her family acted as custodians of the papers; holding the papers by faithfully providing a place for interested readers to study the papers akin to a special collections reading room of a university library prior to publication, contracting with Donnelly & Sons Company for the printing plates to be made, and typing the entire manuscript for printing. These custodians included her husband Will, her sister, Anna, her brother-in-law, Wilfred, her foster daughter, Emma L Christiansen, and her son Bill. 2

Even though Dr Lena believed that the communications were what they claimed to be, her husband, Dr Sadler was still skeptical after 30 years of testing and observing the contact person and studying the written material of the Urantia Papers. He wrote a paper detailing the types of methods that were not used in the reception of the papers, "Unusual Activities of the Marginal Consciousness (The Subconscious Mind)." Only when the paper describing the twelve apostles arrived, about 1935, did he capitulate. As a professional in the treatment of the human mind he realized that no other human could have gotten inside the heads of those twelve diverse associates of Jesus." He finally believed that the authors were indeed superhuman and he was hooked!"3

Dr Will was an avid fan of the Chicago Cubs. He never missed a game on the radio or at Wrigley's Field nor did he schedule patients during game times or the World Series. The Cubs lived at the Rienzi Hotel, right down the street in the 1930’s and 40’s and the doctor used to go sit in the lobby, reading his newspaper waiting for the players to return."4

The Forum met every Sunday afternoon and people dressed in their Sunday best. Sometimes the meetings were postponed because of bad weather. The Sadlers bought a lodge in Beverly Shores in the hopes a future Urantia Brotherhood School. Much of the private land on the lake at Beverly Shores went into public lands and this parcel was sold. The picnic for Jesus' Birthday was held at Beverly Shores or at the Hales home in Chicago.

Even in later years, Dr Will always used the pronouns "we," "us," or "our," when referring to his participation and the 486 others who stayed the course. The Forum members wanted to remain anonymous; they wanted to book to be judged on its own merits.

Dr Lena did not live long enough to see The Urantia Book published in 1955. Her family continued to dedicate their lives to the revelation and her life of service to humanity will be remembered. When the Urantia Foundation was established Dr Sadler was 75 years of age. By the time the papers were printed and the Brotherhood formed he was 80 years old. He never took a leadership position as trustee or officer of the Foundation or the Brotherhood. He chaired the Committee on Education and authored the following curriculum materials for the Urantia Brotherhood School: "Urantia Doctrine and the Theology of The Urantia Book", "Urantia Book Quotations from the Teachings, Sayings, Miracles, and Parables of Jesus," "Worship and Wisdom, Gems from The Urantia Book," "History of the Urantia Movement," "Study of the Books of the Bible," "The History of the Bible," "A Short Course in Doctrine," "Analytical Study of The Urantia Book," "Science in The Urantia Book," and "Topical Studies in The Urantia Book." "He was a master of the Bible. He may have been a bit fuzzy on other parts of The Urantia Book"1 and referred questions to scholars like Marian Rowley, "but on bible history as presented in the book he was a past master."5

Dr Lena died on August 8, 1939 in Chicago, Illinois, US, clasping the pictures of her grandchildren in her hands. William lost his most faithful companion to breast cancer. As their daughter Emma L Christensen said, "They worked together in everything. I never met a nicer couple." They were a truly a stellar example of what can be accomplished when man and woman work in partnership with God." In the years after publication when the Doctor’s practice declined and he faded into old age, he was accorded the role of elder statesman and he graciously complimented each person who had the temerity to get up in front and lead a paper on the revelation."1 He died on April 26, 1969, at 93 years of age.

Copyright©UBHS 2007

Works Cited:
[1] Kendall, Carolyn, Dr. William S. Sadler: Skeptic, Believer, Inspiration, talk presented December 9, 2006. Secretary for Dr William S Sadler before 1954.
[2] Meussling, G. Vonne, William S. Sadler: Chautauqua's Medic Orator, PhD dissertation. Bowling Green State University, ©1970, page 8 & 9. Sadler's Personal Papers, MSS in office and home, 533 Diversey Parkway, Chicago IL
[3] Agnes Geneva Gilman, A.B and Gertrude Marcella Gilman, A.M, Who's Who in Illinois Women-Makers of History, Eclectic Publishers, Chicago 1927
[4] Letter from William S Sadler to William White, March 1904, Battle Creek Michigan
[5] Letter from William S Sadler to William White, November 1905 La Grange IL.

* Carolyn Kendall, The Rowleys, e-mail, 18 May 2007. Generously provided by Carolyn Kendall and edited by the UBHS staff"
* Social Security Index Number: 325-10-3158; Issue State: Illinois; Issue Date: Before 1951.
* United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and
   Records Administration, 1910. T624, 1,178 rolls. Year: 1910 Census Place: Ridgeway, Orleans, New York; Roll: T624_1061; Page: 6B;
   Enumeration District: 160; Image: 1029
* National Archives Microfilm Publication Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957; T715, 8892 rolls
* United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and
   Records Administration, 1920. T625, 2,076 rolls. Year: 1920; Census Place: Ridgeway, Orleans, New York; Roll: T625_1255; Page: 6B;
   Enumeration District: 181; Image: 465.
* History of the Urantia Brotherhood, Chicago, Illinois, ©1960 Urantia Brotherhood.

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