Connections Across Time

One of the things people might not know about me is that the Adams side of the family owns a house that’s on the state and national historical records.

The house was built by my great-great grandfather, Havilah Babcock, who was one of the co-founders of the Kimberly-Clark Company.  The house is a combination of Queen Anne, Stick, and Eastlake styles and was built in the late 1800s.  Everything in it Havilah picked himself, and all of it is still there.  A visitor can look in a secret drawer and find a newspaper on Lincoln’s assassination, or sit on the sofa that Havilah would nap on.  One of the things that always impressed me about the house was that it wasn’t just about what could be seen — there was a lot of texture.  Even the wallpaper has texture.

Stained glass doors in the entrance way.  They were recently restored.


An old photo from the historical society showing the sitting room. the carriage porch is right outside the window.

Texture is particularly appealing to me.  Over the last few years, I’ve discovered why.  I’m kinesthetic.  Only a small percentage of the population is kinesthetic.  We learn by hands on and by touch.  I can’t go into a department store without touching the clothing.  So the design of the house especially meant something to me.

The house was featured in Wisconsin’s Own: 20 Remarkable Homes –the Amazon look inside does show a couple of pages of Havilah’s house.  I knew about the photo shoot that was going to happen, so I was looking forward to seeing them in the book.  I expected to see a write-up on the house itself.  What I didn’t expect was to get such a wonderful write-up on Havilah.

He started out as a dry goods merchant, selling ladies dresses and cloth.  He understood texture and fashion and was quite charismatic.  The ladies asked him for advice on the latest fashions from Paris, and he made a lot of money selling to them.  He was the reason the four founders of Kimberly-Clark got the loan that started the company.  He died in the early 1900s, and the house went to his wife, and later to two of his daughters.


Havilah is the tall man in the back.  My grandmother Caroline is the woman shading her eyes.

But as I read, I began to realize that the stories described him as having kinesthetic traits.  And it hit me: “I’m like him!  Wow!  That’s where I got it from!”  I’ve done genealogy off and on for the last 20 years, but until that moment, I never connected with any of the past relatives like.  I found something very special with Havilah.

What are your favorite stories about your ancestors?  Have you had any buried treasure — unexpected surprises?

16 thoughts on “Connections Across Time

  1. I love old family stories — and my family is full of them (like when my Mom’s Aunt married my Dad’s Uncle, or when the cops pulled my Dad over for driving my Mother across state lines — she looked too young to be married). Recently, though, I found a man who has copies of the original naturalization papers signed in 1875 of my grandfather 5 generations back. Very cool!


  2. Kristy Lyseng

    That house is positively gorgeous! I’ve always liked houses that look like miniature castles.

    I don’t know enough about my family to say whether or not we have any buried secrets, but twins seem to be a common thing on my Dad’s side of the family.


  3. I want that house!!!! I love big old houses. When I was a kid, I used to dream of owning a house with secret passages and rooms, towers and stairways, the whole works.


  4. I’m such a fan of Arts&Craft architecture and its variations. I live in an American Foursquare in a neighborhood of prairie style. Unfortunately, my town doesn’t value its architectural history and we fear the neighborhood will be ruined with inappropriate in-fill housing — all for the sake of a walk-in closet. I would love to explore the wonderful houses scattered across Wisconsin. There was such art in the houses of that era.


  5. @Julie Farrar My uncle told me about a house where the owners remodeled it and added a wet bar in the entrance way. Sometimes people just don’t care about the history.

    @ Sue It reminds me of the Nancy Drew mysteries with the old house with all the secret passageways. Havilah’s house doesn’t have one, but it has a giant attic.

    @Kristy I had the photo on my screen and a co-worker thought it was a castle.

    @ Carrie It’s wonderful finding a bit of history like that!


  6. Oh, how cool! We lived in Redlands, CA and toured the kimberly-clark mansion there once. Absolutely beautiful. Our house, on the local register, was a “worker style” and built in 1901. Loved it…but at the time we didn’t have the money to fix it up. Wish we had!!


  7. danzierlea

    I swear I’ve driven past that house… may I ask where it is (other than in Wisconsin)?

    And I’ve also got awesome house envy. 😀


  8. Reetta Raitanen

    Your house is beautiful. And your family has been very wise to keep it in pristine condition. It’s a treasure.
    What a cool connection to your great great grand-father.


  9. Pingback: Ghostly Encounters of the Adams Kind « Linda Adams

  10. Jazmine Vazquez

    I’m only 17 years old and turning 18 in 2 months and I’ve always admired this home. I passed by it multiple times as a small child and thought it was gorgeous. Even now that I live in another city farther down California, I still remain amazed when I drive through there and see it. It sincerely is beautiful! Thanks for sharing your story 🙂 Crazy someone my age is fascinated by a historic home.


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