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Smith H. Babcock. In financial circles and among investors generally the name Central Investment Company, Incorporated, is known pretty well all over the country. It has been highly successful in bringing the stable securities of Oklahoma, based on the rapidly rising farm values, to the attention of investors both in and out of the state, and it is now the largest company of its kind in the farm loan business in the state west of Chickasha. Its home offices are on Main Street at the corner of Third Street in Hobart and the present company is the outgrowth of the first business of the kind established at Hobart upwards of fifteen years ago by Smith H. Babcock, who is now president of the Central Investment Company.
Mr. Babcock is an Oklahoma pioneer. Born at Clyde, Wayne County, New York, January 23, 1853, his first twenty years were spent on his father’s farm, and the year 1871 marked his graduation from the Clyde High School. His first independent venture was the purchase of a farm of ninety acres in Wayne County, New York, and he made that the basis of his livelihood and business career until 1883. In 1884, selling his property in New York and coming to the West, he bought a farm of 160 acres in McPherson County, Kansas, and was one of the men who persisted through the many difficulties which beset Kansas agriculture during the ’80s, and eventually profited by his experience. In 1893 he sold his Kansas farm and on September 16, 1893, made the race at the opening of the Cherokee Strip. On that day he rode a hardy cow pony, thoroughly acclimated and accustomed to the plains, and led the run for twelve miles before he decided to stake his claim. His homestead of 160 acres was located a mile and a half northeast of Medford, now the county seat of Grant County. Mr. Babcock pursued his vocation as a farmer on the old homestead claim until 1902, then sold out and removed to Hobart in Kiowa County, where he followed shortly after the pioneer rush into that district. He opened his office as a dealer in farm lands, and was the first in Hobart to take up that line of business. Since then he has organized the Central Investment Company, now incorporated under the state law, and is directing its operations as president.
The Babcock family for several generations lived at Sag Harbor on Long Island, a port which in the nourishing days of the American merchant marine was one of the most important points of outfitting for ships engaged in the whaling industry. Three Babcock brothers named Hedges, Jonathan and Benjamin, had emigrated from England and settled in Sag Harbor just prior to the War of 1812, and all of them subsequently engaged in that war on the side of the United States. The ancestor from whom the Hobart business man is descended was Hedges Babcock. Mr. Babcock’s father was Job Babcock, who was born at Sag Harbor, Long Island, in 1809, and died at Clyde, New York, in 1887. He moved out to Wayne County, New York, in 1851 and lived there quietly as a farmer the rest of his life. Previous to 1851, however, for twenty-two years he had been captain of a whaling vessel that hailed from Sag Harbor. He was not the only member of his family engaged in that industry. He had six brothers, named Benjamin, Hoyl, Henry, Lyman, Jonathan and Hedges, all of whom were captains of whaling vessels that called Sag Harbor their home port. All these veterans of the seas are now deceased. Job Babcock was a republican in politics, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and was affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He married Mary Ann Hull, who was born at Hartford, Connecticut, in 1817, and died at Clyde, New York, in 1897. She also had seven brothers and all of them were seafaring men. Smith H. was the older of two sons, and his brother. George is now a farmer at Clyde, New York.
Since casting his first vote Mr. Babcock has been steadily a republican in politics, and while living in New York and in Kansas served on school boards. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in Hobart Lodge No. 176 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows is past noble grand and was a member of the encampment and canton of that order in Kansas.
At Clyde, New York, in 1872, Mr. Babcock married Miss Cora Gibson, who is a native of Fort Edward, New York, a daughter of D. G. Gibson, who is now living retired at Clyde, New York. Mr. and Mrs. Babcock can take a reasonable degree of pride in their fine family of children, numbering nine in all. Charles, the oldest, was cashier in the bank at Medford, Oklahoma, at the time of his death in 1892; Benjamin, the second son, is a graduate of the Kansas City Veterinary College and is now a veterinary surgeon at Kirksberg, Idaho; Alice is the wife of Mr. Birdsteen of Los Angeles, California; May, also a resident of Los Angeles, married George Sharp, who is cashier for the Southern Pacific Railroad; Ford is vice president of the Central Investment Company of Hobart; Mattie is the wife of Park Siple, cashier for the United States Express Company at Little Rock, Arkansas; Edith is the wife of Temple Kirkpatrick, who is secretary of the Central Investment Company; George lives in Hobart and is in the vulcanizing business; Harold, the youngest, is now a freshman in the Hobart High School.