Webster Edgerly

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Albert Webster Edgerly (1852 – 1926) was a 19th and 20th century American social reform activist. He believed in euthanasia programs, a healthy diet, and the power of personal magnetism, and began the Ralstonism movement as a way to live out this lifestyle.

Personal life[edit]

Born in Massachusetts to Rhoda Lucinda Stone and John Foss Edgerly, he graduated from the Boston University School of Law in 1876. That same year he founded the Ralston Health Club. He married Edna Reed Boyts on July 5, 1892 in McConnellsville, Pennsylvania. He practiced law in Boston, Kansas, and Washington, D.C. In 1896 he began living eight months of the year at Ralston Heights, New Jersey, now known as Hopewell.

He died November 5, 1926, in Trenton, New Jersey, and his wife sold the property the following year.

Self-help and religious writings[edit]

Under the pseudonym Edmund Shaftesbury, Edgerly was a prolific author of self-help and utopian religious texts, producing over 100 books, most of them "official" books to buy as a member of the Ralston Health Club. They are "chock-full of racist rants, naive pseudoscience, and curmudgeonly attacks on modern society."[1] He also dabbled unsuccessfully in real-estate speculation and the theater, and invented a language called "Adam-Man Tongue" that was "nothing more than a bizarre-looking version of English."[1]

One of his books, Life Building Method of the Ralston Health Club, endorsed the consumption of whole grain cereal.[2] When William Danforth of animal feeds maker Purina Mills began making a breakfast cereal similar to the kind described in the book in 1898, he sought and received the endorsement of Edgerly to market Ralston breakfast cereal. Ralston cereal became so successful that in 1902 Purina Mills was renamed Ralston-Purina.[3] The breakfast cereal operations evolved into Ralcorp.

Works[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Six, Janet. "Hidden History of Ralston Heights: The Story of New Jersey's Failed 'Garden of Eden.'" Archaeology (Vol 57, No 3), p. 30-35.

External links[edit]