Obed Babb

Submitted by
Valerie Crook
September 16, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 241-242
Grant County

OBED BABB. It was perhaps the grandfather of Obed
Babb who came from Germany and established this well
known family in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Some of
the land owned by him there had been traded for land in
what was then Virginia, now Grant County, West Virginia.
Peter Babb, the father of Obed, was the founder of the
family in this section, coming from Pennsylvania in 1818.

The old homestead, known far and wide as Cherry Lane
Stock Farm, thus acquired and developed during succeeding
years, was maintained by the Babbs until 1919, when Obed
Babb, the owner since his fathers death in 1870, sold it and
moved to Keyser, Mineral County, where he now resides,
retired, at the age of eighty-eight years. He was born at
what is now Martin, Grant County, December 21, 1833. His
mother was Phoebe Scott, a native of that section.

The children of Peter and Phoebe Babb were: James,
who during the Civil war, while attempting to recover
some sheep stolen from him, was shot and killed by the
thief; Milton, who spent his early life in West Virginia,
migrated to Illinois and acquired a large farm in Cham-
paign County, is survived by three sons, one a prominent
lawyer in Idaho, one a retired farmer of Champaign and
the other a banker of Homer, Illinois; Catherine, who
married Okey Johnson, a farmer and stockman of Mineral
County, where they spent their lives; Jane, the widow of
Henry Suit, a Grant County cattleman, died at Keyser
when past ninety years of age; Daniel William, who for
many years was associated with his brother Obed in farm-
ing and stock raising and who died in Grant County, where
his widow still resides; Obed; and Sallie B., who married
Thomas B. Karskadon, of Mineral County, a great prohi-
bition leader and once candidate for vice president on the
prohibition ticket. Both he and his wife are now deceased.

Obed Babb spent eighty-five years of his life on the
farm where he was born. He was a youth when subscrip-
tion schools were the only provision made for the educa-
tion of children, and he attended a private school near
Moorefleld. He and his brother Daniel were stock drovers
to the Baltimore market in the old days. They handled
live stock on a large scale, cattle, horses and mules. Obed
Babb continued to keep in close touch with this business
during all of his active career, and is today perhaps one
of the best judges of live stock in this section of the state.
He proved his title to a leading citizen of his locality,
where he was active in community affairs. He was promi-
nent in the Methodist Episcopal Church, was an original
republican, and voted for John C. Fremont in 1856, but
has never responded to any of the invitations to become
a candidate for office. In 1869 he married Mary Louise
Hennen, daughter of George Washington and Justina
(Shay) Hennen, of Morgantown. She was born in Monon-
galia County in 1847. All her life has been devoted to her
home and children and the moral and the church inter-
ests of her community.

Their children are: Dr. Walter Milton; Ernest Peter
and Frank Hennen, all of Keyser, and two daughters:
Justina, who married J. Walter Scherr, president of the
Inter-Ocean Casualty Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, they hav-
ing one son, Joseph Walter, Jr., a student in the Cincin-
nati schools. The youngest of the family, Mabel, married
Clarence E. Vossler, a prominent merchant and stock raiser
of Grant County. She died in October, 1918, leaving one
son, Charles Henry Vossler.

Dr. Walter Milton Babb was born August 2, 1870. He
received his education in the public schools and at Ohio
Wesleyan University at Delaware, Ohio, and graduated in
medicine at the University of Pennsylvania with the class
of 1893. After practicing in Mineral County for about
one year he entered the Allegheny General Hospital at
Pittsburgh as resident physician, and at the expiration of
his service there located in Pittsburgh, where he practiced
his profession until 1908, when he moved to Keyser, where
he has since resided.

Doctor Babb is a member of the State Health Council,
was medical examiner of the Draft Board during the war
and especially active in all war work. In 1901 he married
Marguerite Mignot, of Alderney, Channel Islands, Eng-
land. They have one son, Walter Milton, Jr.

Ernest Peter Babb was born February 18, 1874. He at-
tended the public schools, also Shepherd College at Shep-
herdstown, and graduated from Eastman College at Pough-
keepsie, New York. After some time spent in the old Key-
ser Bank, now the First National Bank of Keyser, he was
assistant clerk of the West Virginia Senate during the ses-
sion of 1897. From there he went to Washington, where
he held a position in the War Department during the
Spanish-American war, serving under Secretary Alger and
Secretary Root. Resigning that position in 1903, he re-
turned to Grant County and was until 1919 associated with
his father in farming and in the live stock business. When
the farm was sold he moved to Keyser and is now a special
agent of the State Department of Agriculture, engaged in
the administration of the live stock sanitation, commercial
feed and fertilizer laws.

In 1899 Mr. Babb married Katherine Bell, daughter of
Joseph V. Bell, of Keyser, whose interesting career is the
subject of another sketch. They have one son, Joseph
Vanee, born in 1903, who graduated from the preparatory
department of the Potomac State School at Keyser, and is
now in his second collegiate year at that institution.

Frank Hennen Babb was born June 24, 1875, and after
finishing the course provided in the public schools spent
two years at the State University at Morgantown. He re-
turned to Cherry Lane Stock Farm, where he was engaged
in business with his father until he was twenty-six years
of age, when he moved to Keyser to engage in the real es-
tate and insurance business. He has one of the standard
insurance agencies of the state, and conducts a general
bonding and surety business. He promoted Liller’s Addi-
tion to Keyser, laid off and sold the Reynolds Addition and
also the F. H. Babb Fort Hill Addition. He served two
terms as mayor of Keyser. He took the lead in getting the
Legislature to give Keyser a new charter providing for a
commission form of government and as mayor of the old
regime he installed this new government and was re-elected
as the first commission mayor.

Mr. Babb married Gertrude Scherr in Charleston in 1902.
Mrs. Babb is the daughter of Arnold C. Scherr, who at the
time of her marriage was serving his first term as auditor
of West Virginia. They have two children, Mary Cather-
ine, a student of Potomac State School, and Arnold, at-
tending the Keyser High School.