Biography of Edwin P. Babb

Edwin P. Babb. The Babb family came to Champaign County in 1853. Five years later, at the home of his parents on a farm in North Ogden Township, Edwin P. Babb was born November 9, 1858. His life career has been one of commendable industry and accomplishment, has been liberally rewarded, and for a number of years he has lived retired in one of the comfortable city homes of Champaign.

His parents were Milton and Elizabeth (Littler) Babb. Milton Babb was born in Grant County in what is now the state of West Virginia, grew up there, took up the occupation of farmer, and subsequently became a merchant. He owned a half interest in a large store in West Virginia, but on account of failing health removed to the west. Champaign County was still comparatively new and undeveloped when he located in North Ogden Township in 1853. Coming from the rough and semi-mountainous district of West Virginia he seemed to recognize the value of the rich land in Champaign County, and invested all the money he could secure in the farming district and kept purchasing new property until at the time of his death on January 22, 1868; he owned a thousand and fifty acres. He lived only long enough to accomplish part of the development of this land.

In the early years the Babb family lived isolated compared with the modern facilities and conveniences of the country districts of Champaign County. There were no telephones, no free delivery of mail, no pike roads, and the nearest post office to the Babb home was Danville, twenty-five miles away. Only at considerable intervals did a member of the family go there for the mail and other supplies. The nearest church was seventeen miles distant. Milton Babb was a very useful man in his community. He built the first schoolhouse in that section on his own land and paid for the building out of his own pocket. Later, when the district school was formally organized and established, he was reimbursed for the expense of this school-house. Another incident that is recalled is his hiring a man at steady wages and furnishing him with a gun and ammunition to keep the deer out of his cornfields. That indicates how numerous the deer were at the time. Nearly every night the wolves howled about his doorstep.

Elizabeth Littler Babb was born near Circleville, Ohio, and lived to a good old age, passing away in 1910. She was the mother of four children; Edwin P., the oldest; Alice J., deceased; James E., a prominent corporation attorney of Lewiston, Idaho; and Charles D , a banker at Homer, Illinois. The mother of these children married for her second husband James Yeazel. The two children of that union are Milton J., of Danville, and Frank, of the Province of Ontario, Canada.

Edwin P. Babb grew up in Champaign County, attended the district school near the old homestead, and at the age of twenty-one took charge of the home farm. He was only ten years of age when his father died and being the oldest son responsibilities were early thrust upon his shoulders in advance of his age. He continued the management of this farm until the property was divided among the heirs. He then engaged in farming on an extensive scale and made a specialty of raising Percheron horses and Shorthorn cattle. Mr. Babb still owns a fine farm, on which he keeps a tenant. In 1904 he removed to Champaign, and lived in a beautiful home at 401 Prospect Street.

Mr. Babb married October 8, 1884, Miss Emma Conkey, who was born, at Homer, Champaign County. Her parents were Dr. William A. and Virginia (Sadler) Conkey. Her father, a native of Massachusetts, came to Champaign County when a boy. All the money he had was two dollars and a half, and he invested this in a town lot at Homer. He possessed a genius for versatile accomplishment and effort, and was always able to adapt himself to circumstances. He took up the study of medicine, completing his education at Louisville, Kentucky, and on returning to Champaign County practiced successfully for nine years. He also served as supervisor of his township and commissioner of highways. As his family grew up he bought a farm and was engaged in farming until his death. Dr. Conkey married on May 31, 1849, Virginia Sadler. She was born in Virginia, November 20, 1827, and her family were early settlers in Vermilion County, Illinois, locating there in 1840. Dr. Conkey and wife had nine children: Aubert J., of Homer; Byron M., deceased; Francis, deceased; Lucy, wife of Mathew Spencer; Bruce T., deceased; Carl A., of Homer; Emma, Mrs. Babb; Frank M., of Homer; and Fred B., of Howe, Indiana. Dr. Conkey died December 2, 1908, and his wife passed away March 4, 1904.

In politics Mr. Babb is a Republican. He is affiliated with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks at Champaign. He and his wife have had two children. Harry C., who was born January 17, 1886, lives at Champaign and is a traveling salesman. He married Lulu Goodman, and his three children are Dorothy Louise, born May 10, 1909; Harry C., who died at the age of eight months; and James Carlock, born April 29, 1915. Mr. Babb’s only daughter, Jennie Kate, born March 1, 1888, died February 3, 1893.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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