#8 Birton Babcock and Harry Hovey

There is a striking similarity of the careers of these two men, H. E. Hovey and B. E. Babcock, who have made Camp Babcock-Hovey possible. Both were farm boys and both started in business with little or no financial backing. Each went on to be the head of a successful business enterprise employing a large number of persons, and each had retained a deep interest and sympathy in the struggles of others and the welfare of his respective community.

Birton E. Babcock

Birton E. Babcock was born on May 20, 1870, in Clyde, Ohio. Mr. Babcock left home as a young man with $25 in his pocket to attend Wooster College in Wooster, Ohio, graduating in 1894 and attended Lane Theological Seminary in 1898. Mr. Babcock moved to the Finger Lakes area in 1901, with his wife, the former Edna Charlotte wilder, and purchased a sauerkraut factory for $4,000 ($1,000 down). From his humble beginning, Mr. Babcock built a sauerkraut empire known as Empire State Pickling Company, a million dollar business that produced one third of the nation’s kraut and was known as the “Kraut King”. Phelps still celebrates a Sauerkraut festival every year.

Mr. Babcock was a well-known civic leader, in the Ontario area, who believed in giving back to the community some of the blessings bestowed upon him. Besides our Boy Scout Camp, Mr. Babcock donated a women’s dormitory to Wooster College in 1936 that was named Babcock Hall, was a regular generous donor to the Phelps Presbyterian Church, the Geneva Girl Scout council, the Community Chest and Clifton Springs Hospital (Sanitarium). Mr. Babcock also served as chairman of the board at Clifton Springs Sanitarium. Mr. babcock was an elder of his church as well as a trustee at Wooster College. Mr. Babcock once stated that after a careful and thoughtful survey, he believes that the Scout movement offers to American youth the most vital training in the principles of democracy and religious tolerance.

Mr. Babcock had four children, all of whom passed away at an early age. His wife died about a month after the camp dedication. Mr. Babcock died April 7, 1941, at his office, of heart failure. The Camp Chapel was dedicated in his honor during the Wooden Anniversary of Camp.

(As Posted in the Camp Babcock Hovey Golden Jubilee Commemorative Book with edits)

Harry E. Hovey

Harry E. Hovey, of Geneva, was born on Warsaw, New York on January 4,1881, the son of Wilbur H. and Eva Arnold Hovey. He attended school in Warsaw and at age 17 he enlisted in the army He served in the Spanish-American War in the Philippines.

Mr. Hovey opened his first grocery store in Warsaw in 1901, investing $450 after his return from the service. His first store in Geneva was opened in 1915. From this beginning, the Market basket chain of grocery and other stores grew to well over 260 retail outlets. Mr. Hovey married the former Carrie Smith of Cortland in 1907, and had six children, three sons and three daughters, many of  whom were involved in their fathers business.

Mr. Hovey was very involved in civic affairs. Mr. Hovey was a board member of the Salvation Army, and officer of Rotary International, upstate chairmen of the USO, and a trustee of Hobart and William Smith colleges. Mr. Hovey was also a regular contributor to the Community Chest and a member of the North Presbyterian Church of Geneva. In Scouting, Mr. Hovey was the co-founder of our camp. Prior to the founding of camp, Mr. Hovey had long been interested in Scouting, and Troop 12, of Geneva, was sponsored by the Market Basket Corporation, while Troop 9 and Rotary Sea Scout Ship meet in the Market Basket trophy room. Mr. Hovey also received the Silver Beaver Award for his service to youth. The former Hovey Lodge was donated by Mr. Hovey in 1948 and was dedicated in his honor. Mr. Hovey died on November 2, 1953 at his Main Street home in Geneva.

(Memory of Hovey from 50th Anniversary coming soon)

(As Posted in the Camp Babcock Hovey Golden Jubilee Commemorative Book with edits)

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