Yellowstone Genealogy Forum


Albert L. Babcock - Businessman


Revised 20 June 2001c

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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 Billings was created. 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 was 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 and Twodot, Montana. Miles moved to Livingston to form the Yellowstone Park Camps Co., and the business was 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 employees.

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 Theater.

He served as chairman for the county commissioners and county Republican central committee. He was Yellowstone County’s first senator and he spent six terms in the Montana House serving on three different Governor’s staffs.

He was Billings first Elks’ exalted ruler and Grand Commander for the Montana Knights Templar lodge in 1894.



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