Bio- Pen Pictures


In the Illustrated Pacific States of May 5, 1888, there appeared an article from the pen of one of our most gifted writers, one who has delighted thousands by her beautiful word pictures, both in verse and prose, of California scenes and of subjects weightier and not less interesting. The article is headed "Laurel Ranch," and it describes the pleasant,
leafy home, and gives the life history, of one of Santa Clara County's most honored citizens, Dr. Clement E. Babb. The writer of this history only regrets that he cannot incorporate the account entire, and shall make no apology
for borrowing wherever possible the thought, and even the very words. of that brilliantly written page.

"Laurel Ranch" is the typical home of retired comfort and of cultured ease, yet not the retirement of idleness, but rather the change from one active employment to another that leads one closer to nature in her gentler and more
charming moods. The ranch is a compact body of 235 acres of land, covering some of the low foot-hills that fringe the base of Mount Hamilton, and by its succession of hill and vale it affords innumerable pleasant prospects and
delightful sheltered nooks. In one of these, a tiny, nest-like valley, rests a flower-surrounded cottage, almost completely engirdled with orchard and vineyard hill-slopes, and having a knoll of considerable height covered with a
growth of forest trees, while the home itself is amid a tropical grove of pepper trees and palms. It is situated at the head of Fleming Avenue, in the Mount Pleasant School District, at an easy drive of five mile from San Jose. Of the
ranch, 100 acres are in orchard, of which forty are in apricots, twenty-five in almonds, fifteen in peaches, ten in French prunes, ten in olives, and ten in apples, pears, plums, persimmons, oranges, figs and walnut trees, besides
two acres in table grapes. The rest of the land devoted to hay and the pasturage of stock. Of these the Doctor has about twenty-five head, and is devoting himself to the improvement of the grade, especially in horses.

Dr. Babb was born in Pittston, Pennsylvania, on August 19, 1821, the son of John P. and Mary (Shriner) Babb, both natives of that State, but of German extraction. The ancestors of the family came over as members of the Penn
Company, and from that time were identified with the county of their adoption. Dr. Babb's grandfather was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, while his father commanded a company in the War of 1812. His father was an architect and
builder, a man of energy and ability, a sample of whose substantial work still remains in the noted Columbia Railroad bridge, across the Schuylkill, near Philadelphia. He also constructed the dam for the Lynchburg (Virginia) water
works. The son graduated at Dickinson College, Pennsylvania, at nineteen, and at the Dickinson Law School two years later. He practiced law in Hillsdale, Michigan, for three years. Then determining to leave the bar for the pulpit,
he studied theology at the Union Seminary, New York, and also at Lane Seminary, Cincinnati. While yet in the seminary, he was called to preach in the First Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, in the pulpit just made vacant by
the removal of Henry Ward Beecher to Brooklyn. Here he with met with warm appreciation. After his ordination he was elected their pastor, and for five years held that important office. Those who knew him at that time speak of his
ministry as characterized by remarkable zeal and devotion, and his preaching as eloquent, forcible, and persuasive. But he was of slender habit, and his overtaxed voice gave way so completely that for years he was entirely unfit
for public speaking. He now gave his attention to journalism, and directly became editor of the Christian Herald, of Cincinnati, the principal organ of the Presbyterian Church west of New York. For seventeen successive years he
was elected to the editorship of this paper by the Synods having it in charge, and when, after the union of the Old and New School branches of the Presbyterian Church, the Herald was consolidated with the Presbyter, he continued his
work as associate editor of the new paper.

Dr. Babb was married, in 1848, to Miss Lydia Hulbert, of Hillsdale, Michigan, and during all these years of editorial service resided in the city of Cincinnati or its suburbs, and was active in all its philanthropic and religious
work. During the war he proved himself a stanch patriot; was chosen Chaplain of the Twenty-second Ohio Volunteers in November, 1861, and was at the capture of Fort Donelson, the battle of Shiloh, and the siege of Corinth. In
1873, owing to failing health, he decided to remove to a friendlier climate, and came to California. Until 1874 he resided in San Jose, but then purchased the "Laurel Ranch," which he is now so wonderfully improving.

Mrs. Babb is a daughter of Chancey Hulbert, an eminent attorney at law of Northern Ohio, who died in early manhood. They have two children, Frank H. and Helen, both living with their parents. The son is a graduate of Marietta
College, Ohio, and not only takes entire charge of the orchard and the stock, but is also active in other spheres of usefulness, being President of the Young Men's Christian Association, of San Jose, and Superintendent of the
Sunday-school of the First Presbyterian Church.

It should be stated further that Dr. Babb is still and associate editor of the Herald and Presbyter, where, over the now well-known and favorite initials of "C. E. B.," his weekly letters are weekly expected. The Interior, of
Chicago, and the Occident, of San Francisco, also make weekly calls upon his facile and forcible pen. After coming to California, Dr. Babb, in a measure recovered his voice, and has frequently added preaching on Sunday to his vast
week-day preaching. He has even occasionally taken pastoral charges for short periods, and always is an original and vivid speaker as well as thinker. His style is chiefly characterized by simplicity, earnestness, picturesqueness,
and a wonderful freshness and aptness of illustration. He is of slight, nervous figure, with a delicate, refined face, keen blue eyes, abundant gray hair, and the active movement of a young and vigorous man. He is extremely
cordial in Manner, and overflowing with cheerful sociability. Whoever enters his cottage door finds welcome, good cheer, wholesome and inspiring thought, and a charming domestic atmosphere.

SOURCE:  Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or
Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated.
- Edited by H. S. Foote.-
Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888. Page 251-252

transcribed by Roena Wilson