ISAAC BABCOCK. - Isaac Babcock, who lived on section 34, Gardner township, was for many years actively identified with agricultural pursuits, but in later years largely put aside the more arduous duties of the farm and enjoyed a well earned rest. Fifty years have passed since he came to the county, and he therefore deserves mention among its honored early settlers, for throughout this long period he was loyal to its best interests and took an active part in what has been accomplished here. Mr. Babcock was born in Falls township, Muskingum county, Ohio, on the 27th of June, 1821, and is a son of James Babcock, a native of New York, who removed to Ohio when a young man, settling in Muskingum county. There he married Jennette Search, who was like-wise a native of the Empire state, but was reared in Muskingum county. The father was a millwright by trade and followed that pursuit in Ohio, where all of his children were born. In the year 1853 he came to Illinois, settling in Sangamon county, where he remained until called to the home beyond. In his family were five sons, of whom Isaac Babcock was the eldest, and the youngest is Charles, who is living in Springfield; James, another brother, made his home in Macon county, where he died, May 3, 1903; Luke is a resident of Kansas City, Missouri; George, a resident of Gardner township, Sangamon county; and Elias is also located in Springfield.
Isaac Babcock was reared to manhood in Muskingum county and was there married on the 31st of August, 1843, to Miss Elizabeth Sims, who was born in Rappahannock county, Virginia, a daughter of Oliver Sims, who was born in that state. Her father's birth occurred in Washington and on his removal westward he took up his abode in Muskingum county, Ohio. After his marriage Mr. Babcock carried on agricultural pursuits in that county until 1853, when, with his wife and the three children who had been born unto them, he started westward overland, making a permanent location in Sangamon county. Soon afterward he purchased the tract of land upon which his family now reside, and, locating here, he began to clear it and to cultivate the fields. He performed the arduous task of developing a new farm and in course of time abundant harvests rewarded his labors. He also erected good and substantial buildings upon his place, including a comfortable home and the necessary barns and outbuildings for the shelter of grain and stock. He likewise planted fruit trees, and as the years passed these gave him a gracious yield in season. He purchased a threshing machine, which he operated for forty years, and in the capacity of a thresher he was known throughout the county. At different times he purchased four new threshers and two second hand machines, thus keeping in touch with the modern improved machinery.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Babcock were born thirteen children, eight of whom are living: Thomas and Mark, who are both at home and carry on the farm; Isaac G.; James, who is married and resides in Gardner township; John, who is married and lives at Pleasant Plains, Illinois; Lucy Ann, the wife of John Day, of Springfield; Charlotte, the wife of William McLean; and Emma, the wife of Joseph Broadwell. Of the five children who passed away, two reached years of maturity and were married. Lavinia became the wife of Truman Fox and at her death left two children. Nancy married Cicero C. Reed and had four children. The others of the Babcock family were: Janie, who died when but seven years of age; Mary, who died at the age of four years; and Ella, who died at the age of ten months.
In 1860 Mr. Babcock voted for Abraham Lincoln and ever afterward supported each presidential nominee of the Republican party, casting his last ballot for William McKinley in 1900. He never desired or sought office. For a half century he lived in Sangamon county and saw its wonderful transformation and growth. During his residence here the timber and brush were cleared away, the land placed under the plow and splendid farms developed. He also watched the building of churches and schools, the introduction of industrial and commercial interests and saw the growth of Springfield from a small town to one of the important cities of the nation. In works of public progress and improvement he was always interested, and in as far as possible co-operated in this. He was a man of sterling purpose, of upright character and honorable life, and throughout Sangamon county Isaac Babcock was respected by all who knew him. He passed away on the 27th of December, 1903, at the age of eighty-two years and six months, and was buried in the old Salem cemetery. His wife survives him.