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BRENTON D. BABCOCK
ON October 7, 1908, there was unveiled at Cleveland, Ohio in Lakeview Cemetery, in the presence of the
Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the State of Ohio, a noble monument of granite, a beautiful memo-
rial to the father of Scottish Rite Masonry in the Valley of Cleveland Brenton D. Babcock.
Brenton D. Babcock served the Grand Chapter of Ohio as its Grand High Priest, and the Grand Commandery of Knights Templars as Grand Commander. It was said of him in just acknowledgment, that in all stations of the fraternity in which he served, he had but one motive—the advancement of Masonic principles and the fulfilling of simple justice and equity to all humanity.
He was known all over the United States in Masonic circles, and also in, For full thirty-five years he visited the Scottish Rite annual reunion at Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, being an honorary member of all Scottish Rite bodies in the Valley of Hamilton, and also of the supreme Council for the Dominion of Canada. He lived a half-century in Masonry, being still quite a -young man when he became a Free Mason in his native town of Adams, New York. He was, from earliest manhood strongly impressed with the character and teachings of the Order, its principles thrilling him with love for humanity and liberty.
Brenton D. Babcock was born October 2, 1830, in the little town of Adams, Jefferson County, New York. It was in Adams that he first became attracted to Masonry, despite the hue and cry at that time being raised against it as a secret order. It was indeed a test of a man's sincerity of purpose, his purity of hearty and integrity of character that withstood the injustice of the sacrifices which at that time were demanded of all who allied themselves with the then grossly misunderstood fraternity. It was under such circumstances that Brenton D. Babcock was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason.
In 1853, seeking some solid direction for his activities, this young man engaged as a clerk in a general store at Smithville, Jefferson County, New York, and soon had entrusted to him the entire management of the business. In 1855, however, his employer sold out and young Babcock engaged as a clerk with the steamship line of the Erie Railroad, being located in the office at Dunkirk, New York. He continued in this office some ten years before removing to Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland, in the year immediately following the outbreak of the Civil War, offered wonderful opportunities for men of ambition. Mr. Babcock soon established himself here as bookkeeper for the firm known as Payne, Newton and Company, engaged in the coal mining business. He remained with this concern for several years and then organized the firm of Babcock, Card, and Company, wholesale coal dealers. It will thus be seen that he was a part of the early development of the rich coal resources which had so timely and important a part to play in Cleveland's industrial progress, and which helped to make the most of the ore business from the nortbern lakes. From 1865 to 1875, Mr. Babcock remained in this business, at the end of which period he sold his interest in the coal mining business to his partner, Henry P. Card, and devoted himself to salesmanship. A few years later, however, he again engaged in the coal trade and mining operations under the firm name of Babcock, Morris, and Company. His firm came to be recognized as one of the leaders in the Hocking Valley.
At one time, also, Mr. Babcock was associated with Isaac Reynolds in the management of the American House, a well-known hotel of Cleveland in the early days.
Meanwhile his conspicious ability had attracted the Democratic party and he was placed at the head of the ticket for mayor of Cleveland. The result of the election was a brilliant victory not only for his party, but for Mr. Babcock personally. His majority has never been surpassed by any Democratic election before or since in local politics. In this great public office, the highest in. gift of the people, Mr. Babcock was peculiarly successful, by reason of his marked ability in business management, his skill in arbitration, his conciliatory disposition and high judicial attitude toward any situation, and his strict impartiality as an observer. Cleveland looks back upon this term of Mayor Babcock with special satisfaction in the exceeding fitness of the incumbent in office.
Mr. Babcock's high social position was shared most graciously by the lady who became his wife in 1867. She was formerly Mrs. Elizabeth C. Smith. They were married on November sixth of that year. Their married life was most ideal, continuing through thirty-nine years, during all of which time they were well known for their hospitality. Mr. Babcock rounded out seventy-six well-crowded, useful years, dying on January 10, 1906. Upon his bereaved widow fell the loving duty of cooperation with the Masonic brethren, who united for the marking of the departed Mason's last resting place in a fitting manner. The members of the committee in charge of the Mason's memorial owe much to this gracious lady for the assistance rendered in this labor of love for their brother.
Mrs. Babcock was always to be counted upon for her share in the philanthropic work so dear to her husband. Their assistance was always of the practical, well-directed kind, calculated to benefit the recipient in a lasting way. They were well beloved for their high ideals and altruistic tendencies. Both Mr. and Mrs. Babcock took a special interest in the library movement throughout the country. It was their pleasure in 1900 to donate several hundred volumes as a nucleus for the Adams, New York, Free Library. To this foundation they added liberally from time to time, so that in the year of Mr. Babcock's death the Babcock Section of the Adams Free Library already contained six hundred well-selected volumes.
While interested in books in general, Mr. Babcock was particularly interested in works on Free Masonry. He had one of the best collections of Masonic lore ever assembled in this country. This distinct department of Mr. Babcock's private library totaled no less than two hundred and fifty volumes on the subject of Masonry-. The entire collection has a unique value, and has been loaned to the Temple Association of Cleveland, and constitutes at the present time the main portion of the Temple Library.
Mr. Babcock had attained the thirty-third and last degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish-Rite of Free Masonry. He was Past Grand Commander of the Knights Templars of the State of Ohio, as also of the Oriental Commandery. He was Past Grand Priest of the Grand Chapter, a member of the Royal Order of Scotland, and one of the, most prominent Scottish Rite Masons in, the United States or Canada. His brothers in. have put their loving tributes to his memory in a volume commemorating the ceremonies of the unveiling of the Babcock Monument in Lakeview Cemetery, October 7, 1908. It is the concensus of all, in the words of the address of Past Grand High Priest O. P. Sperra on that occasion, that "time will grow strong and old and the years multiply into decades ere there will pass from memory of the Masons of Ohio the work, character, and worth of Brenton D. Babcock".
The tender sincerity of the beautiful third verse of the memoriam written by his brother Mason, Nelson Williams, thirty-third degree, is well worth adding here to this brief summary of the significant life of this representative citizen of Ohio.
"He lived within the loving hearts
Of all his fellowmen;
He lived beyond the period
Of three score years and ten;
He lived as every one should live,
And died as all should die.
A gentle sleep, the dust to dust,
The soul to God on high."
In the words of the memorial address at the unveiling, "The Masons of Ohio do well to mark his last resting place with enduring granite in solid block. It is singularly characteristic of his deeds, his sayings and his accomplishments in their behalf."
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