Babcock Library: The Early Years

In the 1840s young Archibald Babcock from Ashford joined the California Gold Rush to seek his fortune. He must have done well because upon his death in the 1860s, Mr. Babcock bequeathed two identical $3,000 gifts to the Town of Ashford; one to establish a band and the other to start a “free” library (in those days people paid a subscription to belong to a library). Thus was born the Babcock Band and the Babcock Library, two Ashford institutions which have survived to this very day (along with both bequests which are still managed by the Town Treasurer). For the next 60 years the library was located in a variety of private homes and country stores.

Babcock Library (16)

Enter Knowlton Hall

In the 1920s the Knowlton family of Ashford built a town hall to commemorate the family history dating back to Colonel Thomas Knowlton, commander of Knowlton’s Rangers in the Revolutionary War. For the next 80 years Knowlton Memorial Hall housed the Ashford town government as well as the Babcock Library which occupied half the top floor.

Babcock Library (11)

The Babcock Library Today

Recognizing the steady growth of town government, Ashford built a new administrative building and renovated Knowlton Hall in the period 2004-2006. The Babcock Library was given use of the entire top floor which effectively doubled its size to the present 4,000 sq. ft.

Thomas Knowlton

A Memoir of Col. Thomas Knowlton is available online. It is shown below.

It may be read online, or downloaded in pdf format.