New Boston New Hampshire’s Roger Ward Babson, Statistician, Eccentric Businessman, College Founder (1875-1967)

Call him kooky, or call him ingenious, and you are correct both times.

Roger Babson in 1947.

Roger W. Babson in 1947.

Roger Ward Babson was not a native New Hampshirite.  Born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, his forebears lived in Gloucester for many generations. He died at Lake Wales, Florida, in 1967 of a heart attack.

So how do we claim him?   From 1948 until his death in 1967, he lived in New Boston New Hampshire, where he started the Gravity Research Foundation.  There is even an engraved marker to prove it.  But then Roger had a thing for boulders.

Back in September 1927 he published a booklet called Dogtown-Gloucester’s Deserted Village, which was a historical address that he gave before the Gloucester Rotary Club. He knew alot about this area, as he would drive his grandfather’s cows here as a child.  During the Great Depression (which started about 1929) he hired immigrant stone-cutters to chisel inspirational words into boulders on Dogtown Common, and throughout the area.  In 1935 he said that he was “trying to write a simple book with words carved in stone.” These rocks are generally called “Babson’s Boulders.”

If the average person did this, you’d think them a bit odd, but Roger was a millionaire who dabbled in many things successfully.  He had graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1898, and was an internationally known statistician. He founded Babson Statistical Organization, Babson Reports, and Babson Institute (later Babson College). With his wife he founded Grace Webber College in Florida, Utopia College (now Midwest Institute at Eureka KS), and the Open Church Foundation. He was the author of many books on economic and social problems. He was a pioneer in offering investment services and his Babson’s Reports is the oldest investment advisory company in the United States.

Reportedly he predicted the 1929 stock market crash one month before it occurred.  One of these accomplishments would be amazing, but together, it demonstrates his brilliance.

He was the 1940 candidate for the U.S. presidency for the Prohibition Party. No chance you say? Well, out of a field of eight candidates, Roger Babson followed third behind Franklin Roosevelt and Wendell Wilkie.

In 1948, reportedly in response to the death of his sister Edith, and his grandson Michael, to drowning, he began the Gravity Research Foundation. His goal was to build a machine to harness gravity waves, and block gravity.  This non-profit organization remained in New Boston NH until Roger’s death,  It still exists, in Wellesley MA. Before you start playing the theme to the Twilight Zone, consider this… some of the participants in their annual essay contest have included [archived page]: physicist Stephen Hawking (he won five times), and astrophysicist George Smoot.

An avid genealogist, from 1963-1966 he was a councilor for the NEHGS (the New England Historic and Genealogical Society). He was also a generous  benefactor, and as a tribute to the memory of his immigrant ancestor, Isabel Babson (who was a midwife), he established the Isabel Babson Memorial Library on Main Street in Gloucester MA, which specializes in books for expectant mothers.  She is also remembered through the Isabel Babson Maternity Wing at Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester MA, now called the Babson Womens Health Center.

His daughter, and a few of his grandchildren, have made New Hampshire their home, but none (that I know) of are as great a  fan of Sir Isaac Newton as Roger was.

Thanks to Dave Brooks aka the Granite Geek, who pointed me toward his article, and inspired me to write about him.


*Additional Reading*

-Gravity exercise: What starts up in N.H. must go down to Mass– (archived story)
Babson College
-Google EBook: “Fundamentals of prosperity: what they are and whence they come, by Roger Ward Babson, 1920

For more information about the genealogy of the Babson family, visit this link.

Thomas Babson, was b. prob at Somerset, England and d. 1630 at Wookey Parish, Somersetshire, England, and buried there.  He married about 1605 in England to Isabel –.  She was born 1 July 1579 in London England.  After her husband’s death, Widow Isabel removed to the American colonies, sailing from Weymouth England in April of 1637, arriving in New England with her sons Richard and James. She was in court in 1639 in Salem, when three of the Salem selectmen brought a civil suit against her (the charge is unknown but usually it had to do with property issues). She was known to be a midwife. She removed to Gloucester MA by June of 1642, and had several grants of land. She also bought of Mr. Milward two acres that was Ashley’s lot; a portion of which, situated later at 75 and 77 Front Street, continued in the family about a century and a half. In 1657 she testified in a court case involving William Browne reportedly causing the death of “Goody” Margaret Prince’s unborn child.  He was found guilty. She died 6 April 1661, aged about eighty-four, leaving an estate inventoried at L27 6s.
Children of James & Isabel (?) Babson:
1. Rose Babson, bapt 17 June 1606, buried 1606
2. Joan Babson, bapt 9 Oct 1608; m. John Collins
3. Richard Babson, bapt 6 Sep 1612; m. Anne Savadge; he d. abt 1637 in England.
4. Thomas Babson, bapt 27 Oct 1614, buried 1614/15
5. Sarah Babson, bapt 31 Dec 1615
6. Thomas Babson 2d, bapt 14 Feb 1718/19
7. +James Babson, bapt 7 Apr 1622
8. Anne/Agnes Babson, bapt 11 Dec 1625, buried 1634.

James Babson, son of James & Isabel Babson, was baptized 7 Apr 1622 at Wookey Parish, Somersetshire, England; he removed to the American Colonies, and to Gloucester MA with his mother and settled near Little Harbor. He was a cooper by trade, but also cultivated his land, and left that along with a small farm to Thomas Witham, who married his daughter. In 1657 he gave 10 shillings to the First Church of Gloucester. He died 21 Dec 1683, and his estate was probated 25 March 1684.  He married in 1647 to Elinor “Elner” Hill, dau of Philip & Anne Hill. After her husband’s death, she lived with her daughter Abigail, and son-in-law Thomas Witham.   She died 14 March 1714, aged eighty-three. The James Babson Cooperage Shop  (built circa 1658) is still standing, at upper main street, Route 127, in Rockport Massachusetts.
Children of James & Elinor (Hill) Babson:
1. James Babson, b. 29 Sep 1648 in Gloucester MA; m. Ruth Lovett, had ch.
2. Elinor Babson, b. 15 June 1651 in Gloucester MA
3. Philip Babson, b 15 Oct 1654 in Gloucester MA; removed to Salem, and m 1689 Hannah Baker
4. Sarah Babson, b. 15 Feb 1656 in Gloucester MA, d. 19 Jan 1675
5. Thomas Babson, b 21 May 1658 in Gloucester MA; enlisted in the Indian War of 1675.
6. +John Babson, b. 27 Nov 1660 in Gloucster MA
7. Richard Babson, b 1 June 1663; m1) Mary — who d. 14 Feb 1718 aged 54. He married 2d) 14 Oct 1718 Jane Reading; resided at Freshwater Cove and later Falmouth Maine.
8. Elizabeth Babson, b. 8 Oct 1665; m. Thomas Sheafe/Sheath
9. Ebenezer Babson, b 8 Feb 1668, d. before 1696.
10. Abigail Babson, b. 13 May 1670; m. Thomas Witham, had ch.

John Babson, son of James & Elinor (Hill) Babson, b. 27 Nov 1660 in Gloucester MA; had a grant in 1695 of two or three acres at Straitsmouth to “set up fishing upon.” By further grants and purchase, he became possessor of twenty-seven acres there, which he held several years, and probably improved in carrying on the fishery. He sold it in 1721.  He married 8 Nov 1686 in Gloucester MA to Dorcas Elwell, daughter of Josiah Elwell. She was born 18 June 1666 in Gloucester MA. They both died in June of 1737. John was a mariner, wood-coster, shoreman and tailor.
Children of John & Dorcas (Elwell) Babson:
1. Elias Babson, b. 1687, d. 1720 (lost at sea); prob unmarried
2. James Babson, b. 5 July 1689 in Gloucester MA; m. Ruth Lovett, had ch.
3. +John Babson, b 14 Dec 1691 in Gloucester MA, d. 1 June 1720 (lost at sea)
4. Eunice “Unis” Babson, b. 4 Feb 1695 in Gloucester MA, d. 1695
5. Thomas Babson, b. 28 June 1696 in Gloucester MA, d. 1696
6. Dorcas Babson, b. 26 June 1697 in Gloucester MA; m. Robert Randall
7. Mary Babson, b. 11 Jan 1699 in Gloucester MA; m1) Elisha Donham; m2) Jabesh Marchant, had ch.
3. Josiah Babson, b. 26 March 1703 in Gloucester MA, d. 1720 (lost at sea)

John Babson, son of John & Dorcas (Elwell) Babson, b. 14 Dec 1691, and d. 1 June 1720. He married 6 Jan 1715 in Gloucester MA to Mary Butman, dau of John & Sarah (Robinson) Butman. She b. 18 July 1697 in Gloucester MA, and d. 12 March 1778 in Gloucester MA at the home of her son, Daniel Merchant. The Gloucester Fishermen’s statue, commemorates those who have been lost at sea including mention on one of the plaques,in 1720 of brothers, Elias, John and Josiah Babson.  Widow Mary Butman was appointed administratrix of her husband’s estate. She married 2d) Jabez Marchant, and had children also by that marriage.
Children of John & Mary (Butman) Babson:
1. Mary Babson, b. 15 Dec 1716 in Gloucester MA, d. 18 Jan 1717
2. James Babson, b. 19 Dec 1717 in Gloucester MA; became a sea captain, m. Hannah Smith and d. 3 Sep 1759, aged 42, leaving a son James who was commander of a privateer in the Revoltionary War, and died 10 Oct 1790, aged 49.
3. +William Babson, b. 4 Nov 1719 in Gloucester MA

William Babson, son of John & Mary (Butman) Babson, b. 4 Nov 1719 in Gloucester, Essex Co MA, and d. 27 May in 1749 in Gloucester MA. [lost overboard on a voyage to the Grand Bank] He married 20 Nov 1743 in Gloucester MA to Martha /Haraden/Harrendine, dau of John & Martha (Coit[e]) Haraden).  She b. 26 Apr 1726 in Gloucester MA and d. 15 Oct 1772 in Gloucester MA. Her estate was probated on 2 March 1773.
Children of William & Martha (Harrendine) Babson:
1. John Babson, b. 2 July 1742 in Gloucester MA, d. Jan 1744, possibly at sea. His brother William was appointed administrator of his estate.
2. Martha Babson, twin, b. 8 Oct 1745 in Gloucester MA; m. 6 Oct 1763 in either New Boston NH or Gloucester MA to Jesse Saville
3. Mary Babson, twin, b. 8 Oct 1745 in Gloucester MA; m. 23 Feb 1763 to Gideon Lane, had ch.
4. Frances Babson, b. 10 Aug 1747 in Gloucester MA; m. 19 Dec 1765 to Nathaniel Griffin
5. +Capt. William Babson, b. 5 Sep 1749 in Gloucester MA
6. Sarah Babson, b. 13 May 1753 in Gloucester MA

Capt. William Babson, son of William & Martha (Haranden) Babson, b. 5 Sep 1749 in Gloucester MA, and d. 30 Dec 1831 in Charlestown MA at the McLean Asylum, age 82; m. 17 Apr 1777 to Nancy “Anna” Rogers, dau of Rev. John & Susannah (Allen) Rogers. She b. 23 Oct 1754.
Children of Capt. William & Nancy “Anna” (Rogers) Babson:
1. Anna “Nancy” Babson, b. 11 Jan 1778; married Capt. Gustavus Griffin
2. William Babson, b. 7 June 1779; m. Mary “Polly” Griffin. Children include Hon. John James Babson, b. 15 June 1809 in Gloucester MA, who m. 17 June 1832 to Mary Coffin Rogers, dau of Timothy Rogers, and m2) 14 June 1851 Lydia Ann Mason, dau of Alpheus Mason
3. John Babson, b. 2 March 1781; m. Abigail Hughes
4. Catherine Babson, b. 3 July 1782; m. Joseph Haraden Jr.
5. +Capt. Nathaniel Babson, b. 17 June 1784 in Gloucester MA
6. Martha Babson, b. 28 July 1786; m. Nymphas Stacy
7. Capt. Charles Babson, b. 20 Dec 1788; m. Nancy Rogers
8. Mary Babson, b. 24 Apr 1791; m. John Stacy
9. Dorcas Babson, b. 14 Aug 1793, m. Capt. Gideon Lane III
10. James Babson, b. 27 Oct 1795; m. Susan Prindall

Capt. Nathaniel Babson, son of Capt. William & Martha (Harrendine) Babson, b. 17 June 1784 in Gloucester MA; He married 16 Nov 1809 in Gloucester MA to Eliza Gorham Low, daughter of John Jr. & Lucy (Rogers) Low. She was b. 4 Feb 1786 at Gloucester MA, and d. 7 Apr 1862 at Gloucester MA. He died 1 Feb 1836, aged 52 yr 8 months in Gloucester MA. Nathaniel was one of the founders of the Evangelical Congregational Church, and was a deacon there in 1828.  Reportedly there is a line back to John Howland and John Tilley of the Mayflower through Eliza’s mother, Lucy Rogers, and her mother, Elizabeth Gorham.
Children of Nathaniel & Eliza Gorham (Low) Babson:
1. Nathaniel Babson, b. 9 Aug 1810; m. Emeline Davis Rogers. Had at least one child, Maria R. Babson, DAR#19031
2. John Low Babson, b. 31 March 1812 in Gloucester MA; m. Mary Day Hodgkins
3. Ann Rogers Babson, b. 29 June 1814 in Gloucester MA; m. Stephen Low Davis
4. Charles Babson, b. 13 May 1817 in Gloucester MA; m. Caroline Shaw
5. +Gustavus Babson, b. 25 Feb 1820 in Gloucester MA
6. Eliza Gorham Babson, b. 9 March 1823 in Gloucester MA; m. 1847 to Edward Preble Ring, mariner, son of Bartholomew and Sally Ring.

Gustavus Babson, son of Nathaniel & Elizabeth (Lowe) Babson, b. 1820 in Gloucester MA; He married 19 June 1845 in Gloucester MA to Susan Stanwood Low/Lowe, dau of David & Lucy (?) Low. She b. 31 Aug 1820 in Gloucester MA. He died at age 77 25 Oct 1897, age 77 in Gloucester MA, of uremia. She died of pneumonia, age 59, 8 mos 10 days, on 10 May 1880. Gustavus donated a drinking fountain to the town of Gloucester MA, which was located at the junction of Washington and Poplar streets, opposite the green.
1860 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Essex > Gloucester
Gustavus Babson, 40  Farmer 2900/700 MA [b abt 1820]
Susan S. Babson, 40 F MA
Gustavus Babson 12 M MA
Nathaniel Babson 11 M MA
Susan Babson 7 F MA
George S. Babson 5 M MA
Ann P. Babson 2 F MA
Elizabeth Low 6/12 F MA
Mehitable Younger 18 F servant MA
Austin Griffin 15 M MA
–living next door–
Eliza G. Babson 74 F MA
Martha Sherman 18 F servant Maine
1870 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Essex > Gloucester
Babson, Gustavus 50 M W Farmer 8000/6000 MA
Babson, Susan S. 49 F W keeping House MA
Babson, Gustavus 22 M W Farm Laborer MA
Babson, Nathaniel 20 M W clerk in store MA
Babson, Susan 17 F W school teacher MA
Babson, George 14 M W at school MA
Babson, Annie P. 12 F W at school MA
Babson, Lissie L. 10 F W at school MA
Babson, Lucy S. 6 F W at school MA
Children of Gustavus & Susan S. (Low/Lowe) Babson:
1. Gustavus Babson, b. 23 Apr 1848 in Gloucester MA; m1) Ellen Maria Kemp; m2) Selma “Glen” Talbot, had ch.
2. +Nathaniel Babson, b. 2 Jan 1850 in MA
3. Susan Babson, b. b 18 Nov 1852 in MA; d. unm 14 Sep 1947
4. George S. Babson, b. 15 Jan 1855 in MA; m. Mary H. Saunders
5. Ann Prentiss “Annie” Babson, b. 15 Jan 1858 in MA; m. Charles S. Alling, had ch.
6. Elizabeth Low “Lissie” Babson, b. 6 Nov 1858 in MA, d. 1892 unmarried
7. Lucy Stanwood Babson, b. 17 May 1864 in MA; m. William M. Jelly; had one ch.

Nathaniel Babson, son of Gustavus & Susan S. (Low/Lowe) Babson, b. 2 Jan 1850 in Gloucester MA; He m. 23 July 1874 in Gloucester MA (by Congregational minister) to Eclina “Ellen” F. Stearns, dau of Granville & Frances M. (Wise) Stearns.  She b. 19 Oct 1850 in Newburyport MA, and died 31 Oct 1929 at Gloucester MA. In 1880 residing in Gloucester MA. Occupation, trader (on Roger’s birth record) and goods dealer. He was a trustee of Addison Gilbert Hospital.  [Edwin, Abba, Georgianna]
1880 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Essex > Gloucester > District 177
Babson, Nathaniel W M 30 dry Goods Dealer MA MA MA
Babson, Ellen F., W F 29 wife Keeping House MA NH MA
Babson, Roger W. W M 5 son at school MA MA MA
Babson, Edith W F 2/12 March, daughter MA MA MA
McEachern Annie W F 28 servant Nova Scotia NS NS NS
Spinner, Effie W F 14 servant NS NS NS
Children of Nathaniel & Ellen (Stearns) Babson:
1. +Roger Ward Babson, b. 6 July 1875 in Gloucester MA
2. child Babson, b. 21 June 1877 stillborn
3. Edith Low Babson, b. 15 March 1880, d. 26 Aug 1893 at Gloucester MA, age 13, accidental drowning.
4. Alice Stearns Babson, b. 20 March 1884; m. 14 Apr 1910 to Dr. William Stewart Whittemore, son of William R. & Isabella (Stewart) Whittemore. She d. 14 May 1967 in Framingham MA.

Roger Ward Babson, son of Nathaniel & Ellen “Nellie” (Stearns) Babson, was born 6 July 1875 in Gloucester MA and d. 5 March 1967 at Lake Wales, Florida.  On 29 March 1900 he married Grace Margaret Knight. She died in 1956.  He married 2d) 1 June 1957 at Wellesley MA to Nona Margaret Dougherty, who died in 1963. He is buried at Babson College, Wellesley Hills, MA.
Directories & Member Lists > Massachusetts City Directories > Boston > 1947 > B. page 171
Babson’s Reports Inc., Roger W. Babson founder and chairman of board of directors, Babson Park, Wellesley Hills MA
1910 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Norfolk > Wellesley > District 1161
Babson, Roger W. head M W 35 m1x 10 yrs MA MA MA  — — of financial statistics, own business
Babson, Grace K. wife F W 35 m1x 10 yrs 1 ch 1 living MA MA MA
Babson, Edith L. dau F W 6 single MA MA MA
Murphy, Ella servant F W 34 single Canada-Eng Can-Eng Can-Eng
1930 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Norfolk > Wellesley > District 131 [Wellesley Avenue]
Babson, Roger W. Head $83000 M W 54 married at age 25 MA MA MA, Chairman, Board of Directors, Statistical Organization
Babson, Grace K. wife F W 56 married at age 27 MA England VT
Knight, Camilla J. sister-in-law F W 69 single MA England VT
Shimihira, Ryoiche, servant M Japanese 31/35 single Japan Japan Japan
Social Security Death Index Record
Name: Roger Babson
SSN: 029-03-3294
Last Residence: 02181  Wellesley, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States of America
Born: 6 Jul 1875
Died: Mar 1967
State (Year) SSN issued: Massachusetts (Before 1951 )
Child of Roger W. & Grace M. (Knight) Babson:
1. +Edith Low Babson, b. 6 December 1903

Edith Low Babson, dau of Roger W. & Grace M. (Knight) Babson, was b. 6 Dec 1903 and died 6 July 1995 in New London, Merrimack Co NH; She married 1st) Winslow L. Webber, they divorced. Winslow got his start at a 15-year old chauffeur for Roger Babson. He died January 1991 age 92. Following their divorce he m2) Dorothea Hopkins who d. in 1987. She  m2)  Lewis West Mustard, son of Lewis West & Virginia Lee (Hickman) Mustard. He was b. 24 July 1892 and d. 2 July 2005. He had married 1st, Mildred Morris, and had 3 children. Edith was Babson College’s first alumnae, receiving her certificate in 1923. She was 1st VP of Babson’s Reports in 1961.
Children of Winslow L. & Edith Low (Babson) Webber:
1. Her son Michael was drowned in 1947, while saving the life of a companion who had been knocked off a sailboat in Lake Sunapee NH
2. Roger Babson Webber, b. abt 1925 in Orlando FL, d. 1 Sep 1984 in New Boston NH of a heart attack, age 59. He was a past trustee of Babson College. Prior to moving to New Boston NH, he lived in Boston where he established a book shop on Chestnut Street. He was a collector of Americana furniture, paintings and prints. He graduated in 1949 from Babson College, and was the director of several corporations including Babson Organization Inc and Big Spring Oil Co. Funeral services were held at the First Congregational Church in Wellesley Hills MA.
3. Camilla Webber, b 1927, m. James H. McConnell; of Waynesville, North Carolina; in 1960 she was Vice President of Webber College in Babson Park FL; she is involved with the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts in the Shelton House, Waynesville, NC
4. Judith K. Webber, b 1934, m. ?William Austin ROSS, of Waynesville, North Carolina
Children of Lewis West & Edith Low (Babson) Mustard:
5. Marlene Mustard, b 1944, who married Walter Graf. They resided in Sunapee, and later Newbury NH. Marlene was a member of the board of trustees at Colby-Sawyer College starting in 1987, and she received the Susan Colgate Cleveland Medal for Distinguished Service from Colby-Sawyer College, and she was a donor to Dana Hall School of Music in Wellesley MA..

Some Sources:
1. History of the town of Gloucester, Cape Ann : including the town of Rockport, by John J. Babson, Gloucester Mass.: Procter Bros., page 59-60
2. U.S. Census Records
3. Newspaper articles, re: Babson family

[article and links updated 2 February 2011 JWB]

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