Harriet Babcock

ID # 2796, (1801-1873)
BirthHarriet Babcock was born in 1801. 
MarriageShe married Robert Lawrason, son of Miller Lawrason and Elizabeth Purvis
MarriageShe married Morgan L. Hermance
MarriageShe married William Main
DeathShe died on 15 October 1873. 
BurialShe was buried at Section D, First Mennonite Cemetery, Kitchener. 
NoteFor the present, we have no information as to the parents of Harriet Babcock (though there is now evidence that she was the sister of Wilder Babcock who, for a time, had an inn on lot 4 of the 7th concession of Beverly Township - near the village of Sheffield). It is now possible to say that she was married three times. Our main source for her first marriage, to Morgan L. Hermance, is Volume 1 of Ezra Eby's A Biographical History of Waterloo Township, self-published at Berlin (Ontario) in 1895. Page 456 provides a brief biography of Abraham C. Clemmer and it states that in the summer of 1845 he married Caroline Hermance, the daughter of Morgan L. Hermance and Harriet Babcock.

Page 867 of this same volume has a biography of John Kraft, the son of John Kraft and Magdalena Bechtel. John was born on May 28th, 1824, and on October 10th, 1848, he married Angeline, the daughter of Morgan Hermance and Harriet Babcock. She is stated to be a twin sister to Mrs. Abraham Clemmer and that their birth was on July 2nd, 1828. They farmed in the Bridgeport area of Waterloo County until March of 1874, when the moved to Marion County in Kansas. They were said to have 12 children.

It is likely that Caroline and Angeline had a brother named Morgan. More of this appears below.

What reasonably confirms Eby's story of the family is that Harriet Babcock Lawrason is buried in Section D of First Mennonite Cemetery in present day Kitchener and she is buried with Caroline and Abraham Clemmer.

Before we reference Harriet's second and third marriage, it must be said that we may connect Harriet Babcock with the Babcock family of the Sheffield area of Beverly Township in Wentworth County. John A. Cornell's History of the Pioneers of Beverly makes mention of them as innkeepers in or near Sheffield. Add to that, the death registration for Caroline Hermance Clemmer places her birth in Beverly Township. If indeed Caroline and Angeline were twins, then, obviously, this will have been the birth place for them both.

It appears that Harriet Babcock Hermance had a sister Polly. Page 625 of the same volume tells of Henry Erb and that he married Polly Babcock. At some point, they moved to Sheffield where he is said to have kept a hotel, the same business that occupied the Babcocks. Three children are named for the Erbs and one of them was Harriet.

(For the moment, it may be said that we have at least some confirmation of this. The Abstract Index for lot 4 on the 7th concession of Beverly - see GSU 161101 - shows Henry Erb receiving the letters Patent for this lot in 1841. Henry Erb 'et ux' - and wife - sold the south half of the property to Wilder Babcock in 1843.There are other Erb-Babcock transactions. This Abstract Index does not tell the full story. 1841 is late for a first issuance of Letters Patent. Indeed, microfilm MS400 reel 8, Schedules and Land Rolls 1784 - 1922, Beverly Twp., indicates that this had been a Clergy Reserve. Even then, 1841 is late for a first purchase of a Clergy Reserve and, since Henry Erb is shown as receiving the Letters Patent without mentioning the property being purchased by him, some history of the lot is missing.)

Our documentary support for Harriet's second husband being William Main rests on two items - the marriage of Wilder Main and Eliza Van Every in 1901 and the marriage registration of Wilder Main and Martha Fenner in Durand, Michigan, in 1905. These are late marriages, Wilder's first wife being Mary - Horey, or Hover. He gives his parents' names as Wm. Main and Harriet Babcock. Since he is with Robert and Harriet Lawrason in the 1860 census in Lapeer, Michigan, and still there in 1870, we may at least take it as correct that he was Harriet's son. We have no direct information for William Main, but, given Wilder Main's age of 22 at the time of the 1860 census, we must believe that Harriet and William married prior to 1838.

Finally, we come to Harriet's marriage to Robert Lawrason. She is his second wife and he her third husband. We do not have a date for this marriage, but since their son Alonzo was age 16 in 1860, it must have been prior to 1844. The proof, however, in this case is circular, for the Waterloo County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society provides us with a transcription of Section D of First Mennonite Cemetery in Kitchener. The entry for Harriet reads:

D 2.14 (eroded) Sacred/to the memory of/Harriet Babcock/wife of/Robt. Lawrason/died Oct. 15, 1873/aged/74 years 8 ds. (verse)

As mentioned above, Harriet is buried in the same plot as her daughter Caroline and son-in-law Abraham Clemmer.

At first glance, it seemed counter intuitive that a family that was living in Michigan should bury their mother back in Canada. Best guess is that Robert and Harriet came to visit with Harriet's daughter in Berlin. Harriet must have died there and, hence, the gravestone with its inscription. According to a photograph that appears on Canada Gen Web, the stone still survives and stands upright.

Which brings us to Morgan Hermance who appears with the family in Michigan in 1870, and, more broadly, U.S. census information for the family generally.

The 1860 census taken at Dryden Township, Lapeer County, Michigan, shows the household of four, all born Canada, as follows:
Robert Lorrison, age 69, laborer
Harriet ' 59
Wilder Main 22, laborer, personal estate value of 200.00
Alonzo Lorrison, 16, laborer

We have established Wilder and Alonzo's bona fides in the family.

At first, it was difficult to locate the family in the 1870 census, but they are still in Dryden Township, Lapeer, though Wilder's last name is shown as May. The household reads as follows:

May, Wilder age 28, farmer, born Canada, real estate value 2000, personal value 565
- , Harriet age 70, house keeping, born Canada
Hermany, Harriet age 9, born Michigan
Lawrason, Fred age 4, born Michigan
Hermany, Morgan age 44, born Canada, works in cabinet shop

We must believe Harriet to be Harriet Babcock Lawrason; Harriet Hermany, or Hermance, has not been found later; Fred Lawrason is Alonzo Lawrason's son by his first wife, Eliza Scates. We have no sure information as to the identify of Morgan Hermany, or Hermance, but he is likely Harriet's son by her first marriage to Morgan Hermance.

That Robert Lawrason or his son Alonzo, or Morgan's son Joseph (more later) do not appear in the household at the time of enumeration may well indicate that they were working elsewhere. They have yet to be located in the 1870 census.

Here we backtrack to the 1860 U.S. census as enumerated at Avon Township in Oakland County, Michigan, and here we have listed the following household:

Morgan Hermans, 30, Turner, born Canada
Ann 21, born Ireland
Joseph 3, born Canada
Malissa 1, born Michigan.

We must believe the maiden name of Ann, the wife of Morgan Hermans, or Hermance, to be Gleason, for son Joseph Hermance married a second time on December 21, 1891, at Detroit to a Mary E. Bahen, and he gave his parents' names as Morgan Hermance and Anna Gleason. One of the witnesses was an Anna Hermance. Joseph and witness Anna were residing in Detroit at the time.

It is just possible that the Anna Hermance, who lived in Detroit and was a witness at the marriage of Joseph Hermance and Mary Bahen in 1891, is Joseph's mother, for page 683 of the 1888 Detroit City Directory shows Annie Hermance, wid Morgan, at 156 Champlain.

While this is hardly solid documentary evidence, the logic is that Morgan Hermance in Avon Township in 1860 and Morgan Hermany in Dryden Township in 1870, are one and the same. Certainly, he named a daughter Harriet.

The only other mention to be made is that Wilder Main, Alonzo Lawrason, and Morgan Hermance were in the Union forces during the Civil War and survived. Alonzo was said to have received two bullet wounds to his right leg.

Beyond that, agewise, Harriet Babcock is the sister of Elisha Babcock, the first husband of Robert Lawrason's sister Ann.

The one piece of documentation that causes a problem with the above history is the Abstract Index for 4 on the 7th concession of Beverly. Here, in 1855 and 1856, we find Harriet Hermance, sister of Wilder Babcock, transacting a sale of land. We are rescued from confusion when the references provided in the Abstract Index lead us to the actual transaction. This is dated the fourth of May, 1855, and is to be found on microfilm GS1423, Vol. B, transaction nbr. 572, page 582. Here, Harriet is referred to as Harriet Hermance, alias Harriet Main, alias Harriet Laurason.

Add to that, as mentioned, Harriet is buried with Caroline Clemmer in First Mennonite Cemetery, Kitchener (or as it was at the time, Berlin.) And as discussed in the notes for Elisha Babcock, just who were the parents of Harriet remains a mystery. Cornell's history of the Pioneers of Beverly does mention the Babcocks as innkeepers, but he doesn't inform us further. There probably are clues to be found in Beverly Township assessments, assessments that make mention of Rachel Babcock. This probably gets us back, however, to origins in Adolphustown in 1797 and the petition of Rachel Babcock which has yet to be researched and could provide points of interest to Babcock researchers or to students of the history of Beverly Township. 

Child of Harriet Babcock and Robert Lawrason

Children of Harriet Babcock and Morgan L. Hermance

Child of Harriet Babcock and William Main

Last Edited31 Jan 2019