Arkansas Museum of Natural History and Antiquities, Bernie Babcock, Celebrity, editor, five children, found dead with a manuscript in hand, Julia Burnelle Smade Babcock, Mammy, The Coming of the King, The Daughter of the Republican, The Marble Woman, The Soul of Abraham Lincoln, The Soul of Ann Rutledge, widow at 29, writer, Yesterday and To-Day in Arkansas
Bernie Babcock (April 28, 1868 – June 14, 1962)
Now this lady’s biography should demonstrate why we need how to learn to persevere. Born Julia Burnelle Smade Babcock, she was widowed at age 29 with five children to support. So she turned to writing. Three years later, in 1900, her first book, the Pro-Prohibition, The Daughter of the Republican was published and sold over 100,000 copies in six months. She was the society page editor of the Arkansas Democrat and later owned and edited the Arkansas Sketch Book. She wrote Mammy, a drama read at Chautauqua and on lyceum circuits. She authored Yesterday and To-Day in Arkansas (1917), The Coming of the King (1921), The Soul of Ann Rutledge, Abraham Lincoln’s Romance (1919) and The Soul of Abraham Lincoln (1923).
For her novels she was paid $300 to $500 each. Despite her writing success, she wrote in May 1927, “no money in sight to pay bills due June One…Well — there’s nothing to do but keep trying. Who wants an easy job anyway.” The Great Depression did indeed find her almost penniless. Also in 1927, she founded the Arkansas Museum of Natural History and Antiquities, financed by donations from her friends, in Little Rock as a response to H. L. Menceken’s derision of Arkansas. She worked as a folklore editor for the Federal Writers’ Project. In 1953, she retired to a home on Petit Jean Mountain but continued to write and publish a volume of poetry, The Marble Woman (1959) at age 91. She died at home on June 14, 1962 and was found by a neighbor with a manuscript still in her hand. Babcock was 94 years old.