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The Blue Book of Iowa Women A History of Contemporary Women

Compiled by Winona Evans Reeves, 1914.


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Alice Bird was born in Mt. Pleasant, Ia., May 8, 1850.  Her father, Dr. Wellington Bird, was a leading physician of Southeastern Iowa from 1849 to his death in 1897.  Her mother, Sarah Thornton, descended from one of the leading families of Bloomsbery, Penn.  She received her education in the public schools, in Howe's Academy and in the Iowa Wesleyan University from which she graduated with honors in 1869.  She was immediately elected principal of the high school and took high rank as a teacher.  In 1872 she was elected to a professorship in the I. W. U., at the end of the year she resigned and was married on Oct. 8, 1837, to Judge W. I. Babb, then a young lawyer at that place.  Four children were born to them, Max Wellington, born July 28, 1874, who is vice-president and general attorney of the Allin Chalmers Manufacturing Co. of Milwaukee.  Miles Thronton, born Feb. 27, 1878, is a successful business man representing the Western Wheel Scraper Co., and other corporations at Kansas City.  Clara Belle, born Feb. 16, 1883, died when seven years of age, and Alice, born March 29, 1887, still remains at home.  Mrs. Babb's children have ever been her greatest joy and pride.  It was her guiding hand and her loving, sympathetic, counsel which fashioned their lives which today reflect honor upon her.  Mrs. Babb has a bright, vigorous, versatile mind and a keen appreciation of everything beautiful in life and in nature.  She has a peculiar sympathy which has rendered much of her life devoted to the service of others and makes her an ideal wife, mother and friend.  She has rare literary and dramatic talent and is a delightful platform speaker.  Had it not been for the charm of her home life and her devotion to it, she might have had a brilliant career as a lecturer.  She has always been in demand as a speaker and has captivated many audiences with her wit and with her scholarly presentation of her theme.  For twenty years she had charge of the annual class plays given by the seniors in the Iowa Wesleyan University and only gave it up upon their removal to Aurora, Ill., in 1906.  On July 21, 1869, Alice Bird, Mary Allen, Hattie Briggs, Alice Coffin, Frane Roads, Suella Pearson and Ella Stewart, seven congenial girls in the Iowa Wesleyan University, met in the music room of the main building and organized the P. E. O. Sisterhood.  Allie Bird wrote the constitution and was the first to take the oath and was the first president serving for three successive years.  During the thirty-seven years she afterward lived in Iowa she was an earnest and enthusiastic worker in chapter Original A.  When chapter A celebrated the thirty-third anniversary they presented Mrs. Babb a handsome star, the emblem of the sisterhood, richly studded with diamonds, in recognition of her great service.  The P. E. O. sisterhood today has a membership of 22,000, with chapters in 27 states, in the District of Columbia and in British Columbia.  Its membership is made up of a high type of women, the standard of culture having been set by the seven college girls.  The principles embodied in the first constitution written by Mrs. Babb remain unchanged today.  When the growth of the sisterhood made necessary State Grand chapters and a Supreme Chapter, Mrs. Babb was chairman of the committee to formulate the laws governing them.  She is held in highest honor and love by this great body of women.


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