Oliver Babcock

Oliver Babcock, the sixth son and seventh child of Reverend Oliver and Silvia Belcher Babcock, was born March 29, 1780 in Westerly, Washington County, Rhode Island, where the Babcock family had lived for five generations. It is not known when he left Rhode Island, but Oliver Babcock, Jr. was married to Anna Heartt, the daughter of Nehemiah and Mary Brewster Heartt, on October 10, 1804 in Ithaca, New York. Anna Heartt had been born in Troy on January 23, 1783.

The young couple spent their first years in Utica and Whitesboro, Oneida County, New York, and then moved to Troy, Rensselaer County, New York, where their youngest child was born. Oliver was an innkeeper in Troy and ran what was called the City Hotel at 130 Congress Street.

He died April 1, 1828, leaving a vast inventory of items necessary to run the hotel and the adjoining livery stable. His wife, son, and brother-in-law, William Heartt were listed as his executors. After Oliver died, his eldest son, Edward was listed as running the hotel for one year, and then his widow, Ann for two years. She died July 17, 1832, leaving her youngest child, Henry Oliver Babcock only 10 years old.

Oliver's death is mentioned in the records of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Troy. The minister noted: He buried Oliver Babcock on April 12, 1828 and he left a widow and 7 minor children. Oliver was buried in the Old Troy Burial Ground, which was located along the side of what became Prospect Park. It had been opened by the City in 1814, and was destroyed by the City in the 1920s or 1930s when the city fathers found it too difficult to maintain.

Edward (1805) and Emily (1808) were both married when their mother died, and somehow they must have managed to keep the family together. The three younger girls, Elizabeth (1810), Anna Heartt (1816), and Mary Silve (1820), were sent to the Troy Female Seminary as boarders. A book called Emma Willard and her Pupils gives sketches of all students to attend the school up to the 1890s. Elizabeth, the eldest did not graduate, but studied Painting. Mary graduated in 1835 at the age of 15. The school evidently had a well developed alumnae office, since it gives the married names and children of the Babcock girls, as well as their addresses.

Elizabeth married John Haff of New York on August 25, 1834, leaving the younger children in the charge of Anna, who was then 17. When Anna and Mary were married to the two Edgar brothers, Cornelius and William, on April 11, 1837, Henry Oliver must have moved to New York City to live with his sister, Elizabeth Haff and her husband, as he started his career as a clerk to a cotton broker.

The family all seemed to gravitate to the Midwest: Elisha Spurr, named after his mother's sister Catherine's husband, moved to Evansville, Indiana, where he is listed in the 1850 census. He would go further west to San Diego, where he built and ran the famous Hotel Del Coronado. Mary and her husband, William Edgar moved to Michigan. Emily and her husband, Peter Sharpe; Elizabeth and her husband, John Haff, Charles and Henry Oliver all moved to Evansville.

Oliver evidently leased the hotel, since it is not mentioned in his estate, but the value of his furniture, and provisions amounted to almost $3000.00. The number of items needed to run a hotel makes fascinating reading.