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.
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?