|
|
News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Local History: Allyn Babcock made harnesses, saddles

  • HAWLEY- Allyn Babcock was  a 19th century Hawley merchant, a maker of harnesses and saddles. He was a man of faith, a hard worker and respected man in his community. He loved his family. He passed on his skills and work ethic to his son. He and his family lived and made their mark in their village, helping to set the stage for the decades ahead and all the changes they would bring.
    • email print
      Comment
  • HAWLEY- Allyn Babcock was  a 19th century Hawley merchant, a maker of harnesses and saddles. He was a man of faith, a hard worker and respected man in his community. He loved his family. He passed on his skills and work ethic to his son. He and his family lived and made their mark in their village, helping to set the stage for the decades ahead and all the changes they would bring.
    No pictures have been located of Allyn or his family; perhaps a descendant will read this and be able to share an old, treasured photograph or pieces of information we did not know. What we do have is a fine line drawing of his harness shop from 1860, old newspaper advertisements and bits of knowledge gathered here and there in scattered vintage resources. With a little detective work we can start to describe this man, now no longer lost to the mists and mysteries of time past, and perhaps honor his memory for a new generation.
    Allyn was born in about 1828 at Montrose, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, to a farming family. His parents were Ezekiel G. and Lydia (Gardia) Babcock, both natives of Connecticut. Ezekiel worked as a drover, herding livestock on the road to market.
    There were 14 children in the family; 12 reached adulthood. Among them were FOUR sets of twins (Allyn was not a twin).
    Sometime before 1860 he moved to Hawley. He was wed to the former Chloe Wade (another reference gave Chloe Bisby). She was also from Montrose. They reared six children, Orrin, born 1854; Clara, 1858; Henry, 1862; Nellie, 1864; Samuel, 1865 and Wade, 1866.
    *** Harnesses & saddles
    A large, colorful map of Wayne County, Pennsylvania was published in 1860; a few rare copies still may be found. On this map we find valuable street maps of Hawley and other local towns, and line drawings of local businesses- likely what where paid advertising. One of these is a marvelous sketch of Allyn Babcock’s harness shop on “1st Street”. It shows a man on a cart pulled by a horse, another horse and hitching post, and another man standing on the second story porch.
    Could this be an image of Mr. Babcock?
    The Hawley 1860 map identifies 1st Street as today’s Hudson Street and shows Allyn’s harness shop the third from the house on the corner of what we know as Hudson Street’s “S” turn. Comparing this sketch today clearly reveals that the structure is still standing, now a residence.
    This would be just one of at least three locations where he ran his business. The 1860 map shows that their home was on 2nd Street, what is now Prospect Street between Spruce and Ridge streets. The house was a short walk from the neighborhood school on Prospect, where we imagine the Babcock children learned to read, write and do their figures.
    Page 2 of 4 - Next we find the 1872 map of Hawley. The Babcock house is in the same location but Allyn has relocated the business further west on 1st Street. A business listing on the map states that he was selling groceries in addition to being a harness maker and saddler.
    The shop reopened in what was essentially Hawley’s “Waterfront District”, a line of businesses that faced the busy canal basin. This must have been a smart business move, as any harness and saddle dealer would be glad for the patronage of the D&H Canal Boat families who would dock in the basin and sometimes need supplies for their horses or mules that pulled their boat. First Street was also a busy roadway, leading to Honesdale. Lined with planks in the early days it was also regulated by tolls. What is today’s Route 6, merchants still favor such a location to meet the passing public.
    This was also Hawley’s early business section, before the later downtown was developed. By the 1870’s it was waning as a commercial district in favor of the newer street we call Main Avenue. This harness shop location was lost along with many other buildings in an inferno in 1897.
    Babcock’s harness shop, however, was already long moved. An ad appearing in the spring of 1876 in The Hawley Times invites the public to visit his new location “at the Eddy.” The 1890 Hawley directory has him still there, as was the eventual place his son Orrin would do business to horse owners, after him. Later reference places both the home and business of the Babcocks on Erie Street (today’s Welwood Avenue) “near Prospect Street.”
    A 1903 Hawley map locates the harness shop in a two story wooden building; presumably the Babcocks lived there as well.  Boots and shoes were sold on the left side and the harness shop was on the right. It sat diagonally across from the Eddy Hotel - what is now Cora's 1850 Bistro, and was to the right of the three story apartment house. The harness shop building, along with two others nearby, went down the Lackawaxen River in the May 22, 1942 flood, along with the loss of life. Today this is an empty lot.
    The 1876 ad invites all to his new store at the Eddy where he has new goods, “in great variety and at live and let live prices.”  A 1903 photo shows a poster on the side of the shop for "Lion Coffee."
    *** Church elder
    In April 1883 Allyn was called upon to the difficult task of serving on a grand jury called by the acting coroner from Pike County. The matter concerned the tragic death of a man from Cromwelltown (next to Hawley on the Pike side of the Paupack River); the jurors ruled that the man had taken his own life.
    Page 3 of 4 - Allyn Babcock was listed in 1895 as an elder at the 1st Presbyterian Church in Hawley. Another elder at the church was his good friend Joseph Solliday, a local merchant. John Nyce and Marcus M. Treadwell were also ruling elders.
    On December 12, 1899 at 9 a.m. , Allyn Babcock died in Hawley, after an illness. He was about 71.
    Sadly, his son Samuel had died only six months before, on July 24, while in Reading, PA. Samuel, who was about 34, left behind his wife Mary and seven year old daughter Marian.
    Joseph Solliday was administrator of Allyn’s estate; he is listed as his friend in the will. Allyn left most of his estate to his wife Chloe. Fifty dollars, however, was set aside for his granddaughter Marian, to collect interest until she reached 21 years of age. At that time, Allyn wrote in the will, “I desire she purchase therewith a gold watch or some suitable present as a token of my love and affection for her father and herself.”
    The will was prepared in November. Lawrence Atkinson, Esq. Of Hawley was the attorney.
    Samuel’s widow Mary Babcock, who was from Reading, died in Berks County, March 22, 1928, age 63, of TB. She was living with her daughter Marian and son-in-law George L. Stephens.  Marian was about 51; whether she had bought that watch we do not know.
    His daughters, Mrs. Nellie Burleigh and Mrs. Clara  Earl came from their homes in the West, to be with their father through his sickness and death.  Allyn’s widow returned with Clara to stay with her and her family at Lewiston, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, at least for a while. Mrs. Babcock was living there at the time of the 1900 Census; she was 73.
    Clara Earl was married to a Baptist minister, Isaac N. Earl. Children at home in 1900 were Helen, Edist, Newton, Wade and Marmaduke.
    Their daughter Nellie Burleigh was living in Wilmette, Illinois when she passed on, May 8, 1941. Her husband was Louis E. Burleigh, who worked in the drug business. They had a daughter Clara.
    *** Son carried on
    His son Orrin E. Babcock continued the business on Erie (Welwood) Street at the Eddy. Unlike his father, Orrin as a harness maker would witness the arrival of something quite new: the automobile, the horseless carriage appearing in town. Motorized cars would only gradually take over the roads and for a few years horses and an increasing number of horseless vehicles would compete on the dirt streets.
    In 1911, however, there were two harness dealers in Hawley, Orrin Babcock and George Simons. There were also two in Honesdale, C.M. Betz and S. T. Ham; one of Waymart, Benjamin Huttichen; Dreher Township, F.A. Ehrhardt Jr. and Damascus, Henry Baehrei.
    Page 4 of 4 - An example of the clashing times: the Honesdale Citizen, August 25, 1911, reported of a runaway horse rushing down Penn Avenue. The frightened horse stumbled and slid in the dust. Two passer-by, Fred Shearer and Ed Goldback, managed to get the unknown horse to a stable.
    The horse had a few leather straps dangling. It turns out the animal was scared by an automobile crash on the turnpike (Route 6) above the Silk Mill. Three occupants were thrown from the vehicle, and were badly injured.
    Orrin turned 46 in 1900. He had married Ruth 20 years before. Their 11-year old niece Gussie Babcock lived with them. Ruth, 47, worked as a dressmaker.  Ten years later living with Orrin and Ruth were daughter (?) Gusta,, 21, her husband James Chandler, 25 and grandson Orrin E., a one-year old.
    Ruth died at home, Sunday morning, August 20, 1911. Orrin died at home, Wednesday, August 6, 1913. He was 69.  The Honesdale Citizen said of him, “[He] belonged to the class of men justly described by the expression, ‘their word is as good as their bond.’”
    The 1925 Hawley street directory listed no one by the name of Babcock.

        calendar