Albert L. Babcock
Revised 20 June 2001c
Albert was a printer’s devil (an apprentice who does chores and
becomes ink-black from the dust) in Illinois.
He then worked in a grocery firm there, becoming a partner before age 21. He
read an account about the city of Billings
and in 1882 moved there. A. W. Miles had teamed with E. B. Camp and established
a hardware business in Coulson long before establishing Billings. He bought out Camp’s interest
in the Coulson business at about the same time that Babcock moved to Billings. He teamed with
Babcock to form a partnership in the Babcock & Miles Hardware, and the
store relocated next to the Fenske’s saloon at the northeast corner of Montana Avenue and 27th Street
in 1900. They had stores at Crow Agency
Montana. Miles moved to Livingston to form the Yellowstone Park Camps Co., and
the business re-named A. L. Babcock Hardware Co. In 1903, he sold the business
to the Billings Hardware Co.
Babcock was an organizer of the Yellowstone National Bank, which in May
1891, succeeded the five-year old Bank of Billings (called Billings &
Bailey). He remained president of the bank until his death on July 6th, 1918. He installed a gymnasium for the
He founded the Babcock-Fraser Co., and together with W. A. Selvidge (Helena) gave their
names to a number of buildings in Billings.
In 1895, he erected the Yellowstone Valley Flouring Mill. It had a daily
capacity of 150 barrels. He later incorporated the facility into the Billings
Milling Co., and eventually sold it to a Minneapolis Firm in 1910. This became
the Russell-Miller Millings Co. He also spearheaded an organization of the
Billings Telephone Co., and was its president until the interests were sold to Bell Telephone. He helped erect the Billings
Opera House and managed it from 1895 until 1906. This renamed the Babcock
He served as chairman for the county commissioners and county Republican
central committee. He was Yellowstone
senator and he spent six terms in the Montana House serving on three different
He was Billings
first Elks’ exalted ruler and Grand Commander for the Montana Knights
Templar lodge in 1894.
Yellowstone County Coordinator