W. Irving Babcock
Most Worshipful Grand Master, 1889
W. Irving Babcock was born in Troy, New York on July 7, 1833. When he was nine years old his father died. He attended Troy public schools until he was sixteen when he entered the Collegiate Institute in Charlotteville, New York. He attended that institution for two years. He continued his studies at Genesee College, in Lima, New York. After leaving school, he taught for a time, then as a contractor until 1858, when he came to Michigan. He located in Van Buren County, and turned his attention to farming. In 1866 he moved to Niles where he worked in the lumber business until 1889.
He was a supporter of the Republican Party ever since its organization and gave much of his activity to the furtherance of the party’s interests. In 1885 he was elected Mayor of Niles. In 1884 he was an alternate delegate to the National Republican Convention from his district, and an ardent supporter of James G. Blaine for the presidential nomination. He was elected state senator in 1887 and re-elected in 1889, and served four years with ability and distinction.
He was raised as a Master Mason in Niles Lodge, No. 97 on June 9, 1873. The next year he was Senior Deacon and the following year Junior Warden. At the annual meeting in 1879 he was elected Worshipful Master, and served in that capacity for two years. After this lodge was consolidated with St. Joseph Valley Lodge, No. 4, in 1883 he served as Worshipful Master for two additional years. In 1885 Grand Master Farnum appointed him Senior Grand Deacon of the Grand Lodge. From that time he was advanced year-by-year, until in 1889 he was elected as Most Worshipful Grand Master.
He received the York Rite degrees in St. Joseph Valley Chapter, No. 2, being exalted a Royal Arch Mason on May 28, 1874 and in December 1881 he was elected High Priest, and re-elected the following year. He received the orders of Knighthood in Niles Commandery, No. 12, and was its Eminent Commander for two years.
He died on March 31, 1908.