LUKE BABCOCK. - If we were to select one class of men who have helped more than any other to make Kansas the thriving, prosperous state it now is, we should point to the farmers. Where there are so many efficient agriculturists it seems invidious to pick out one as being more effective than another. We must, however, give to each one his due and Luke Babcock, as one of the pioneer farmers in Kansas, deserves a front rank in the field of agriculture.
Our subject was born in Franklin county, Ohio, in 1833, the son of James and Jannetty (Search) Babcock. James Babcock was born in Germany and was a farmer in Ohio and later near Springfield, Illinois, where he and his wife both died. They had fourteen children of whom there are now (1911) only two living - Luke and his brother Charles, who makes his home at Springfield, Illinois.
Luke Babcock came with his parents to Illinois when he was quite young and the family settled on a farm, Luke attending the district school in winter and worked on his father's farm in summer. In 1857, when he was twenty-four years of age he left the old home and went out to make a career for himself. There was one thing that he knew how to do and to do well - namely, to farm, and accordingly considered where would be the best place to locate. He realized the future possibilities of Kansas and came here, locating at West Port Landing, which is now a part of Kansas City, Missouri, but at the time when he first came to Wyandotte county there was no such city as Kansas City, Missouri, nor Kansas City, Kansas. He has seen both cities spring up with mushroom growth from the arid plain; he has seen them become agricultural centers and then business centers of the state. Mr. Babcock remembers all of the border troubles with the Indians and can tell many interesting reminiscences of those turbulent times. When the Civil war broke out he enlisted in the First Infantry and later in the Second Kansas Cavalry Regiment, Company B, and he served all through the war, fighting in all the engagements in which his company participated. Before the war broke out Mr. Babcock bought a hundred acres of land from the Shawnee chief, Graham Rodgers, which he worked for some years, making it yield to its fullest capacity. Now (1911) he still resides on his farm with his wife, but is living in retirement, renting his land out to others.
In 1869 Mr. Babcock married Mary Layton of Pennsylvania. Her parents were Jesse and Esther (Shoup) Layton and were both born in Pennsylvania. They came to Kansas in 1865 and located in Wyandotte county with their twelve children. At that time there were not very many farmers in the county and they all knew each other, so that the acquaintance of the Laytons and the Babcocks eventually resulted in this marriage. They have had eleven children, but six of them have already passed on to the other land. The living are as follows: Jannetty, wife of John Ferera; Druzella, who is married to Robt. Ferera; Luster J. Roy, who is living at home with Mr. and Mrs. Babcock; and Sylvia at home.
Luke Babcock is a Republican and there is no more stanch upholder of the principles of that party than he. To know a man of such wide experience, such sterling merit and withal such a pleasing personality is a real blessing.
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