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Emmett Joseph Culligan

(permission to use photo of Emmett Culligan courtesy of Josh Sumption, webmaster for the city of Porter, Minnesota.)

Sparkletts? . . . Britna?    No matter what name you may know in water, remember that 'the Culligan man' was there first - and he was Catholic.

Emmett was born in a small brick house in Yankton, South Dakota, on March 5, 1893. He grew up in South Dakota and Sioux City, Iowa. After attending college for two years he worked and sold land in South Dakota. Emmett became interested in water conditioning after a stint in World War I, and spent the following forty-four years developing this new industry. In 1949 Pope Pius XII conferred upon him Papal Knighthood in the order of St. Gregory the Great, and in 1962 he was invested a Knight of Malta.

"Water is so little known, especially by professional people who should be aware of the many ways it can benefit mankind, especially biochemically. I consider it a duty that I put between a pair of book covers the many important observations that I have made during a very active lifetime." In Culligan's opinion, it is important for "old-timers" in any industry to write and publish their impressions, hunches and "know-how," so they can be used by those who follow them - even though some ideas may not be accepted as facts. For his field, Emmett chose to write as a non-professional so he could get around the caution of the professional who must fear the criticism of colleagues. Emmett wrote down unproven ideas he considered facts because he personally believed that they are the truth, but for which there were no answers. He simply asked that smarter men provide the answers. He considered himself a "lamp-lighter" and hoped that his work would mark the beginnning of the age of 'aquaphiles.'

The Culligan Estate wrapped around Porter, Minnesota, and extended for one half mile in all directions. It was also one of the first houses to be fully wired electrically with switches and fuses. The estate included numerous homes, Culligan Manor being the main house, and two servant houses to the northwest of the mansion. When Culligan left Porter, his estate was among the largest in Western Minnesota. Culligan manor was sold many times and was considered among one of the most luxurious homes in the state.

Knowing full well his educational and personal time limits, Emmett hired Fr. John M. Scott, S.J., A.M., Ph.L., S.T.L., M.S. to write two more books on his favorite subject; water and the Catholic Faith. Fr. Scott was well qualified for the task, having already won several accolades and, in 1959, was chosen as one of the two outstanding science teachers in Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Society of Professional Engineers.

Culligan could not state more emphatically that water should not only be free of germs, but free also of bad taste - water should be soft and good tasting so we are encouraged to drink sufficient amounts to maintain good health. He was convinced that drinking plenty of good, clean water would prevent all disease and promote a long life. One of his many examples included acne. According to Culligan, "it is unnatural for a child to have acne at any age . . . it is a city ailment. To quit drinking water, or to drink less than required, is practically the same as to quit breathing air, or to breathe only a half portion." Culligan even went so far as to go on a 7,000 mile tour to investigate, visiting high schools in many different cities to chart adolescent acne against conditions found in public water supplies. "Where I found much acne among high school children, the public water supply either tasted of chlorine, or it contained more than average hardness." At the same time, traveling through the states of Washington and Oregon, Culligan found "scarcely any adolescent acne."

"Why fool ourselves? Why believe that water is pure and safe when only the germs have been killed? We are only partially benefited in killing germs if the water, in doing so, is made less drinkable . . . Chlorine in water is reported to be harmless, but what is meant is that it is non-toxic. But it is harmful if the taste of it causes water starvation." "Insufficient water intake causes incomplete elimination, with resulting wastes of the body accumulating to escape in some other way than by natural means. Water is required for a great many purposes in the body, one of hte important ones being to eliminate waste products in the intestines and in the kidneys which result from the combustion of foods. If sufficient water is provided, these waste products accumulate and seek an outlet. When this outlet is the pores of the skin, that is acne."

Culligan announced his retirement in 1965. He retired to San Bernardino, California, and died in 1970.

"I was born a Roman Catholic. All my ancestors for 1,400 years have been Catholics. Not one of my forefathers gave up his Catholic faith. I believe nothing matters other than saving my own soul; and nothing is more important than helping others save their souls."


Emmett Culligan on Water (1965)
The Last World War and the End of Time (1950, 1975 by TAN Books and Publishers, Inc.)

books written under his direction by Fr. John M. Scott, S.J.:
Rain, Mans' Greatest Gift - the Story of Water (1967)
Our Romance with the Sun and Rain (1968)

Biographical information:

Emmett Culligan on Water and the Porter, Minn. web site. Compiled by Sarah Gildea.

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