Guilford Carlile Babcock Sr

Guilford Carlile Babcock, was born March 8, 1874, the fifth son and youngest child in a family of ten. His parents, Henry Oliver Babcock and Mary Elizabeth Houser Babcock, were married June 8, 1848 in Jeffersonville, Clark County, Indiana, and had moved to Evansville by the following year before their first child, Anna Heartt was born.

Guilford Carlile Babcock Guilford Carlile Babcock with his son, Guilford Carlile Babcock Jr, and his grandson Guilford Carlile Babcock III - 1932
Guilford Carlile Babcock Guilford Carlile Babcock with his son,
Guilford Carlile Babcock Jr, and his grandson
Guilford Carlile Babcock III - 1932

Four of their children, Anna, Ellwood Fisher, Sarah Maud and Agnes Elma were to die in childhood. The other boys, Henry Houser, Morgan, and Howard Leigh would eventually all be involved financially with their younger brother. Mary Kate, who would marry Harry Veatch, and Lucy Alice, who married James Tyler Walker, would also be connected to their siblings in the Stapling Machines Company of Rockaway, New Jersey, and in the Howard Babcock Trust.

Guilford would say in later years that he was self-supporting by the time he was fourteen years old. After receiving his elementary education in the public schools of Evansville he attended Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, from 1891 to 1893, leaving early because of problems with his eyes. This was always a source of regret for him, because of an early ambition to attend Harvard Law School. He then went to work with his father's firm, the Babcock Produce Company, as a salesman of wholesale produce throughout the country.

He was married at the age of 20 to Alida May Kelsey, the daughter of Percival Gates and Alida Sturgis Kelsey. Their first child, Alida Kelsey, was born on September 1, 1895; their second, Mary Elizabeth, was born on July 25, 1897, also in Evansville, At this point Guilford became a coffee taster and later salesman for the Arbuckle Coffee Company in Boston. Their third child, Guilford Carlile, junior, was born January 6, 1899 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The youngest child, Kelsey, was born July 18, 1906, in Connersville, Indiana.

In 1901, Guilford moved his family to New York, where he became a salesman with the New York Life Insurance Company. In 1903 he went to Capetown, Union of South Africa as African Representative of the New York Life Insurance Company and as supervisor of its agents.

Guilford Carlile Babcock - en route to South Africa on shipboard
Guilford Carlile Babcock - en route to South Africa on shipboard

One of the stories of that period was of young Carlile having his arm mangled so badly in an accident, that it was thought he would lose the hand. He was sent off into the bush in the care of an alcoholic doctor who promised the anxious family that if anyone could save the hand, it would be he. When they returned several weeks later the hand was healed perfectly.

In the National Cyclopedia of American Biography, it states that the family stayed in South Africa until 1906, when Guilford returned to Indiana and formed the Babcock Box Company, with a license from the National Wire Bound Box Company to use their patents in manufacturing. He began to work toward a merger of a number of the major firms, all of which held key patents. Evidently negotiations faltered at one point, and he and his wife made another trip to South Africa for New York Life, leaving the children with their maternal grandparents. However by 1910, he managed to merge his company, the South Bend Healy Box Company, and the Simplex Machine Company, to form the Wirebounds Corporation.

There would be court battles over the inter-related but separately owned patents for the next five years, culminating in a court decision to pool the interests of the contending parties.

In the History of the Wirebound Box Industry: The fitting climax comes from a story by Tom Foster, then a salesman for Indianapolis Wirebound: "When the court decision was handed down, Colonel Babcock was on a train from Indianapolis to New York. Babcock had been a successful salesman for New York Life Insurance, yet as the legal battle dragged on and his money slipped away he considered leaving the wirebound industry to rejoin his former employers. However, when Babcock received word of the court's decision, he changed his mind, got off the eastbound train and caught the next train back to Indianapolis where he began to build what is today the Rockaway Corporation."

The Wirebounds Patent Company was formed and acquired all the patents. In 1920 the company was moved to Rockaway, New Jersey and shortly thereafter changed its name to the 4-One Box Machine Makers, to manufacture the stapling machines for the industry, under licenses from Wirebounds Patent Company. In 1928, the name was changed once again to Stapling Machines Company, with Colonel Babcock as its president, a position he held until shortly before his death in 1945. Even to this day the Rockaway Corporation licenses wirebound box manufacturers that use their patented wirebound machinery.

The family must have moved around considerably in the years before they finally settled in Morristown, New Jersey. His granddaughter, Ann Thacher believes that they lived in Summit, New Jersey, when her mother and aunt attended Kent Place School. However, Mary Babcock graduated from Evanston High School in 1915. During part of the First World War, the family lived in Washington D.C. close to Alida's Wilson College friend, Bess Baker, wife of Secretary of War, Newton Baker.

Early in 1917, Guilford offered himself as a volunteer advisor to the federal Food Administration and Quartermaster Corps. He served in Washington where he became friendly with Herbert Hoover, who headed up the U. S. Food Administration and American relief efforts during the War and immediately thereafter. In early 1918 Secretary of War Baker commissioned him to serve in the Quartermaster commissary near Paris where he oversaw military and civilian relief shipping. (He was given the honorary rank of Major and later Colonel, a title that remained with him throughout his life.)

Colonel Guiford Carlile Babcock Appointment to Major in the Quartermaster Corps 1943 Appointment to Colonel in the Quartermaster Corps 1944
Colonel Guiford Carlile Babcock Appointment to Major in the Quartermaster Corps 1943 Appointment to Colonel in the Quartermaster Corps 1944

Partially because of the Colonel's wartime service and friendship with Hoover, but largely due to the promotional and lobbying efforts of 4-One's two-man office in Washington and the inherent advantages of the wirebound containers, wirebounds gradually began to replace nailed wood boxes in the overseas shipments of canned goods, shoes, tents, helmets, clothing and other wartime materiel. By Armistice Day wirebounds were firmly established in the minds of government and commercial shippers as the most viable, economical containers. After Armistice Day under Hoover's direction, American foodstuffs and goods continued to flow to the starving people of Europe -- and the bulk of America's generosity was sent in wirebound containers.

The Colonel and Alida (called Dee by her grandchildren) moved to Morristown, New Jersey. They lived first in a house at 44 Madison Avenue in 1921 and later moved into the house on Normandy Heights Road in 1925. The Colonel became active in civic affairs: he was one of the founding members of the Morris County Community Chest and served on its Board of Trustees. He was a trustee of the Neighborhood House in Morristown, and was one of the organizers of the Morristown League for Social Service Among Negroes in 1926, serving as its first president. When this group became affiliated with the National Urban League, he was made honorary president.

Home on Normandy Heights Rd Morristown Presbyterian Church
Home on Normandy Heights Rd
Morristown, New Jersey
Morristown Presbyterian Church

An elder of the Morristown Presbyterian Church from 1922 until his death, he also served on the National Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church from 1923 on.

In his sketch in the Cyclopedia of National Biography, it states that golf and reading were his chief recreations, and that he was a Republican politically. Ann Thacher describes his coming home every evening to a glass of ginger ale, before his 45 minute daily nap. She remembers his reading the Bible every morning in the dining room, following the text prescribed in a booklet called TODAY. She recounted the long Sunday dinners after church when she would sit with her brother and cousins around the damask covered tabletop eating their way from consomme through dessert. Often, the meal would end with ice cream topped with maple syrup from Uncle Howard's place in Wisconsin.

Stapling Machines Company had a branch in Lakeland, Florida. Dee applied for her membership in the DAR from an address in Winter Haven, Florida near Lakeland, so evidently they visited there in the 30s. Ann Thacher describes the visits made by members of the family to the house. She lived there for five years, when her mother was establishing residency for a divorce from her first husband.

The Colonel and Alida's son, Carlile Babcock, had befriended a young orphan girl when he was with the Hoover Commission in Russia; he brought her home and his parents adopted her. Thus Alexandra joined the family. Their other son and youngest child, Kelsey was killed in a car crash while a student at Princeton University, leaving a hole which must have been filled in a way by Alexandra.

Guilford's older brother Howard would visit, with his wife, Sallie, a former madame of Evansville. Since he chewed tobacco, Ann recalls, Dee would have jardinieres put out in every room.

Guilford died on August 23, 1945 in Morristown. Ann Thacher describes the scene when Dee sent the children out to scatter the ashes in the rose garden. "As they stood, sorrowful without a liturgy to bind their wounds, a wind came up and blew the ashes back against their dark funeral clothes." His wife's ashes were also scattered there, according to her wishes at her death in April of 1957.

Guilford Carlile Babcock with signature 50th Wedding Anniversary: Dorothy and Carlile Babcock, Alexandra and Bob Marshall, Alida and James McKay, Mary and Arthur Peters
Guilford Carlile Babcock with signature 50th Wedding Anniversary: Dorothy and Carlile Babcock, Alexandra and Bob Marshall, Alida and James McKay, Mary and Arthur Peters

A Marital Career
(with apologies to Mr. Longfellow)

Listen! my children, while everyone hears
Of Alida's and Guilford's first fifty years.
On October seventeenth, they set out;
Hardly any of us, now about,
Can equal their remarkable careers.

They said to their friends, "Together we stand
For richer, for poorer, on see or on land,
We hold each other by the hand."

Err long a family arrived to this pair,

Which added problems of joy and care.
Three "blessed events" came their way,
Who are here to celebrate this day.
First Alida, tiny and small -
Their "eldest child," and loved by all.
Next Mary Moffet," pudgy and fat,
But she plugged along, regardless of that.
Then Carlile, the son, whose chief claim to fame
Is that he carries on the illustrious name.

From city and hamlet, they traveled much;
Cambridge, East Orange, New York and the like,
Until to South Africa, they took quite a hike.

On their return came to this pair
A younger son, Kelsey - of all most fair.
His stay with them was all too brief -
His passing caused their deepest grief;
His influence, through all of our lives does shine
An inspiration almost divine.

Pull down the curtain for twnty five years
Filled with joy as well as with tears,
Their moves were many, and wherever they went
They left an imprint of goodness, well spent.
At last in Morristown, they took their stand, Known and loved by all in the land.

Those children grew up in the usual way
And produced eight grandchildren, to enter our play.
First, Mary's Ann to add to their joy,
Then Alida pitched in with her eldest boy.
Carlile, outdone, but to catch up a lap,
He came home with Alex, to fill in the gap.
After Guilford and Kay, the girls got tired,
But Carlile's gun was just getting fired.

Margery first, then Alida, the third.
And before very long little Carlile was heard,
To complete this list, an adorable tike
Put in an appearance, our red-headed Mike.

All this while our Alex was learnign lots,
She did many chores to aid the rough spots.
But of outstanding merit in doing a job,
Was when she picked out, and married our Bob.

Now fifty years don't seem so long
Going through life with a prayer and a song.
May the years to follow add to their joys,
The end of wars, the return of our boys.
Their children, each with respective mate,
Are here today to celebrate.
Much more could be told, but it left unsaid;
Their fame for good deeds through the county has pread

An example they set to their progeny all
To follow their footsepts, we all hear the call.
May the years that follow be full of content,
Of joy and of laughter, knowing talents well spent.

Mary Babcock Peters

17 October 1944