Coming Soon: Babb, Thomas (1841-1915). Diaries and Notes, 1905-1912

The Babb Family Association has contracted with the University of Illinois to digitize the Diaries and Notes of Thomas Babb so that they may be used for Research and an in depth view of an English Immigrant who came to America and lived “The Dream”. Until now the little known manuscript has lived in obscurity with no good way of sharing its extensive 8 volumes of data detailing as many years of his life. I’ve been waiting anxiously to get a copy of this manuscript and one of our members served as the lightning rod for the arrangement. Thanks Zach!

The process takes about a month, so stay tuned!

Scope and Contents:

Thomas Babb is a member of the DNA Lineage known as the Potters of Staffordshire. He was born in 1841 in Staffordshire, England, but moved to the United States in 1860. Settling first in Ohio, where he was married, Babb moved to Mahomet, Champaign County, Ill., in 1861. Babb spent the next two decades acquiring and farming several hundred acres of land throughout the county, before starting a hog and grain business in 1880. These businesses flourished, and in 1897 Babb began splitting his time between Illinois and Texas, where he owned a cattle business. After his wife’s death, Babb traveled throughout the world until his own death in 1915.

These diaries document Babb’s daily life during his travels. Book A, dating from Aug.-Nov. 1905, describes a return trip to Great Britain, while Books B-D record a lengthy trip around the world from July 1908 through Apr. 1909. Books E-F trace Babb’s travels in Italy, Egypt, and the Middle East, Sept.-Nov. 1909, and a 1910 journey through Texas. Book G begins with a visit to England in 1911, and ends with a trip to Texas, where he remarried in early 1912. Finally, Book H is a record of a trip to the West Coast and back during Sept. and Oct. 1912.

Ann Gibbons of Champaign, Ill., and Ruth Cole of Hull, Ill., donated these diaries to the Survey in 2001.

Arabella Aurelia (Babb) Mansfield – 1st Woman admitted to the Bar in the United States

Arabelle, who later wished to be known as Belle A., studied law at a law office after graduating from IWU. The Iowa code provided admission to the bar only to "any white male person" but the statute was repealed by an act of Jan. 1853. BELLE was admitted to practice law in June 1869, and in March 1870 the words "White male" were omitted from the statute. Thus BELLE became the first woman admitted to practice law. She Married Prof. J. M. Mansfield and in 1898-99 BELLE was Dean and Lecturer on the Theory and History of Fine Arts and Music at DePauw Univ.

Article from Iowa Wesleyen College with a biography of Belle and info about the dedication of a sculpture of her at the campus:

First woman admitted to the Bar in the United States in 1869
Arabella (Belle) Babb Mansfield, of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, passed the bar exam on June 15, 1869 to become the first woman licensed to practice law in the United States.
Belle was born in Sperry, Iowa in 1846. Her mother, having heard that Mount Pleasant had excellent schools, moved the family to Mount Pleasant when Belle was a child. In 1866, Belle graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant. The following year, she began studying law with her brother in the Ambler Law Office. In June 1868, she married John Mansfield, a professor of science at Iowa Wesleyan.

Belle never practiced law in the traditional sense. It is likely that she was too involved with teaching and women’s issues at the time. Throughout her career, not only was she a professor at Iowa Wesleyan College, Simpson College and DePauw University, but Belle was a strong advocate of women’s voting rights. In the fall of 1869, she joined the executive committee of the National Woman Suffrage Association. The following spring, she became president and chair of the first Iowa state-wide woman suffrage convention, held in Mount Pleasant.

During the early 1870’s, Belle traveled extensively in Europe observing the courts of London, and studying law in France. In the summer of 1893, Belle addressed the National League of Women Lawyers at the Chicago World’s Fair, where she was officially acknowledged as the first woman to be admitted to the bar in the U.S. After enjoying a long and successful career as an educator, public orator, world traveler, art historian, and journalist, Belle Babb Mansfield passed away in 1911, at age 64.

• The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) presents an annual Arabella Babb Mansfield Award, the organization’s highest honor, given in recognition of professional achievement, positive influence, and valuable contribution to women in the law and in society.
• Belle Babb Mansfield was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame by Governor Robert Ray and the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women on August 21, 1980.
• The Iowa Organization of Women Attorneys established an annual Arabella Mansfield Award in 2002.
• The Belle Babb Mansfield memorial room was established in 1969 in Chadwick Library on the Iowa Wesleyan College campus.
I grew up in Mount Pleasant knowing nothing about Belle Babb Mansfield. I want girls growing up here to know that women can do and be anything they choose. I want young women who consider attending Iowa Wesleyan College to know that this community has always nurtured women who achieve. I want student-athletes who compete at the College, children riding their bikes to school, and visitors from far away who come to Mount Pleasant to learn about Belle Babb Mansfield.
-Christie Vilsack, Former First Lady of Iowa
The Belle Babb Mansfield Committee and Iowa Wesleyan College have set a preliminary fund-raising goal of $250,000 to go toward:
• Commemorative Statue
The creation of a bronze statue of Belle Babb Mansfield by Benjamin Victor is to be placed on the Iowa Wesleyan campus in Mount Pleasant.
May 2, 2008 Dedication on Iowa Wesleyan Campus Lawn
• Mansfield Symposium
An endowment for the Belle Babb Mansfield Symposium to be held at Iowa Wesleyan College. The annual event will host high profile and nationally recognized speakers to honor and highlight the accomplishments of women and to encourage their professional empowerment.
The dedication of the Belle Babb Mansfield Statue wasMay 2, 2008 at 2:30 pm on the campus lawn.
The dedication speaker was Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
Kathleen Hartington Kennedy Townsend (born July 4, 1951) was lieutenant governor of the U.S. state of Maryland from 1995 to 2003. She ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Maryland in 2002. The eldest of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel’s 11 children, she is part of the Kennedy political family. She was named for her aunt Kathleen Agnes Kennedy, Marchioness of Hartington, who died in a plane crash in 1948.

About the Artist –
Biography by Ruth McKinney, Professor of Fine Art, M.F.A.
“A gift from God” is the way Benjamin Victor describes his natural ability to sculpture monumental size works of art. By receiving his first large commission at only 23 years old Benjamin joined the ranks of Michelangelo, Bernini, Daniel Chester French, and Maya Lin. At age 26 he became the youngest artist ever to have a sculpture in our Nation’s foremost collection of figurative sculpture (the National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol).

Art critics and organizations (including the National Sculpture Society in New York City) continue to recognize the aesthetic and conceptual integrity of Benjamin’s artwork. His incredible passion and drive show in each of his unique and profound creations. With expressive features, exquisite detail, dynamic gesture and thought provoking content the sculpture of Benjamin Victor is sure to take its place among the great masterpeicies of art history.
© 2008 Iowa Wesleyan College

A White-Walker

I couldn’t help but chuckle as I came across this picture tonight in my work to incorporate thousands of new images into the tree. This photo is of Rose Etta White-Walker.

Game of Thrones fans will be well acquainted with this term. The rest of you won’t see the humor in this post. While I doubt she was a zombie cannibal, it gave me a laugh that I thought I’d share. I’m certain that she would not be pleased at the newer reference.

Rose was the wife of Samuel Walker and the mother of Zerua Walker, who married Henry Babb (1886-1968) of Dixfield, Oxford, Maine.

Bobs your Uncle

I’ve been heads down the last two weeks trying to update captions for the roughly 10,000 images that will become part of the second edition of my book series. About half of those are new since the first edition and often lack consistency.

I get tickled at the information people attach to their photos. Some of the most popular but un-useful captions read “iPhone Photo”, “Android” & “Samsung”.

Items downloaded from Facebook contain long cryptic number based captions that form from the file names and you would be amazed at how many pictures of people say something to the tune of “Uncle Bob”. That’s great when the photo stays inside your immediate family. But once it is online no one knows who wrote it and which uncle Bob the person was referring to. Maiden names are mostly left out and Ancestry does a poor job of de-duplicating images.

So, it’s a dull mindless task, but one that is necessary to produce the quality product that I hope to bring to you. I’ll be at this for a couple more weeks and then will be able to get at the fun part of pushing out the new volumes.

We have learned so much since the early editions and I now have a powerful book rendering tool that makes publishing relatively easy (once all the components are in place).

We have solved the Puzzling Mystery of the Eastern Virginia & North Carolina Babbs, having proven their relationship through DNA results.

We have established a DNA lineage for the Staffordshire Babbs that needs to be included as well.

We have an additional 7,000 people in the tree (having just crossed 30,000 total) and 10,000 new images (having just crossed 20,000 total).

Other discoveries are always on the horizon (such as the Barbados Babb Lineage), but in the words of my predecessor Jean A. Sargent, the work will never be completed and at some point you need to stop and publish the results. That day is coming soon!


Setting it in Stone

This week I have purchased the 8 tons of stone needed for the 1787 Seth Babb Homestead protective skirt. This is needed to keep wild animals from seeking shelter under the building. It will also minimalize the Dirt Dobber nests which are so common in the area and improve its curb appeal. 

The stone is to be dry-stacked to within a couple of inches of the bottom of the Homestead and Chink & Daubing is to fill in the remaining space to keep water from pooling under the logs.

Dry-Stacked stone still employs mortar, which isn’t visible in the finished product. Just as with pouring concrete you need a 50 degree day to mix and work with it. So we will need a few days of good weather to complete the construction and those are hard to come by in January. 

So, we are biding our time as we wait on a southerly wind to sweep, wash the clouds away and let the sun smile on our little home.

In the meantime, here is a picture of the stone that will be used. It is an antique limestone that was brought from Virginia. The structure that was disassembled dated to about the same time as our homestead was built and it is a most fitting new location for it and we welcome the chance for it to get back to its intended purpose of protecting the building that it serves.


Today a Knight in Shining Armor showed us the light at the end of the tunnel and pushed us over our Fundraising GOAL by donating $2000 to the effort.

These pictures represent how I feel right now as I’m nearly speechless (which is a miracle all it’s own).

I want to thank all the people who have supported our organization and this effort. Tomorrow I will set about “setting it in stone”, but for tonight we celebrate!

Homestead Fund Raising Update

With a variety of new donations we have received through the US Mail we have now raised a total of $8250 towards our goal of $10,000! The matching funds have now been fully consumed!

We are in final discussions to purchase the stone needed for the work and should be able to start construction very soon. 

Thanks to all the people who have donated already. For the rest of you, we still have $1750 left to go. 

Please help us fulfill this gift and your money will go twice as far. If online transactions aren’t your thing, you can simply mail a check to:

Babb Family Association
4252 Keys Dr
Dallas, TX 75056