Interesting Things

By Ray L. Bellande

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Babendrier Cemetery - East Ocean Springs

LOCATION:  This family burial ground is located in the SE/4 of the NW/4 of Section 28, T7S-R8W on the west side of Pine Hills Drive in eastern Ocean Springs.

DIRECTIONS:  From the intersection of Washington Avenue and Bienville Boulevard (US 90) go south on Washington Avenue .17 miles to Government Street.  At Government turn left (east) and go 2.2 miles to Pine Hills Drive.  Turn right (south) into Pine Hills and proceed .2 miles to Shady Oaks Lane, a private drive.  At Shady Oaks go right (west) to the end of the drive.  The Babendrier gravesite is to the south.

HISTORY:   The Babendrier Cemetery is named for Dr. Charles Albert Irving Babendrier (1867-1938) called Albert, and his wife, Dr. Estelle Turner (1871-1958).  Albert Babendrier was born in Baltimore, Maryland on November 13, 1867 of German parentage while Estelle was a native of Mobile, Alabama.  She was born July 28, 1871.  Her father was a native of North Carolina, and her mother was a French speaking Swiss national.  Estelle Babendrier attended Plute Medical College probably located at Kentucky.  She graduated in March 1896, after completing four courses in allopathic medicine.  Her experience as a physician was with Dr. J.E. Million of Kentucky where she practiced for thirteen years.

The Babendriers may have arrived at Ocean Springs in late 1906.  They probably came here from Kentucky where their two children, Eleanor Sophia (1900-1986) and Eric Turner (1902-1975) were born.  It is generally believed that they came here retired from their respective medical practices.  Estelle did develop her medicinal skills later at Ocean Springs after being granted a license to practice medicine in Jackson County on July 18, 1922.

On January 3, 1907, Albert Babendrier purchased thirty acres of land in the SE/4 of the NW/4 of Section 28, T7S-R8W from Mayor F.M. Weed (1852-1917) and merchant, Elias S. Davis (1859-1925), for $840.  This tract was described as: thirty acres of land south of and adjoining the land now owned by A.B. Ackander in subdivision of the SE/4 of the NW/4 in Section 28, T7S-R8W.  Commencing at the    SE/C of the said Ackander's land, thence south along the subdivision section line 990 feet, thence west along said section line 1320 feet to the corner, thence north along said subdivision line 990 feet, thence east along the south line of the said Ackander's land 1320 feet to the place of beginning.  Meaning to convey all of the land in the SE/4 of the NW/4 of said Section 28, T7S-R8W except 10 acres previously sold to and now owned and occupied by the above mentioned Ackander*.

*A.B. Ackander (1858-1926) immigrated to the United States from Sweden in 1891, settling at Chicago.  His wife, Annie Nilsson (1874), was also Swedish.  They bought 18.5 acres north of the Babendriers from Weed & Davis in March 1903.  Here they grew citrus and pecan crops on their estate called "Ockess".  Ackander's sister-in-law, Agnes Nillson, bought 25 acres to the west from Weed & Davis in 1904.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 26, pp. 187-188) 

After building a unique, 3000 square-foot, concrete home in the northeast corner of his estate and planting pecan and citrus trees, Albert Babendrier came out of retirement at the age of fifty three.  He entered the machine and foundry business at Biloxi in 1920.  Babendrier was President of the Biloxi Machine Works & Foundry Company.  They were located on the northeast corner of Railroad Street and Magnolia.  The company manufactured the Gulf Standard Gasoline Marine engine, gray iron, and made brass and aluminum castings.  Louis Braun served as Vice President and J.R. McElroy was the treasurer of the organization. 

When Dr. Albert Babendrier died on June 19, 1938, he was buried in a mausoleum like structure located southwest of his home.  This feature may have been used originally as a cyclone cellar.  Paul bearers at Dr. Babendrier's funeral were:  W.G. Wilkes, E.C. Tonsmeire, Willie Dale, W.A. Vierling, F.B. Royster, and Dr. Lindstrom.

Dr. Estelle Turner Babendrier lived until March 12, 1958.  She was a member of the Gulf Coast Medical Society and American Medical Association. She specialized in skin disorders and allergies.  Her treatment of patients at Ocean Springs is legendary as it is generally believed she prepared her own formulae from herbs and plants grown in her garden.  Octogenarian, George E. Arndt, remembers Dr. Babendrier giving him some "little pink pills" for a respiratory ailment.  He believes some of her medicine was manufactured by a pharmaceutical house at St. Louis. 

Many other people at Ocean Springs can relate to having been treated for poison ivy and sumac by Dr. Babendrier.  Her treatments for these irritating skin ailments were oral liquids, salves, and lotions.  It appears the good lady doctor took her apothecarial secrets to the grave.

The children of the Babendreers both left Ocean Springs for other areas.  Daughter, Eleanor, taught Sunday School at St. Johns Episcopal Church.  It is believed she got a law degree, and later married Walter D. Moore, an accountant, from Florence, Alabama. 

Eric Turner Babendreer became an attorney and may have practiced law at Ocean Springs until the late 1920s.  He and his mother may have had offices in the Farmers and Merchants Bank Building on Washington Avenue.  Eric moved to Memphis, Tennessee where he died on December 1, 1975.

Estelle Turner Babendrier left the thirty-acre estate to her children as described in Cause No. 14280 in the Chancery Court of Jackson County, Mississippi (Jackson County Will Book 6, pp. 202-204, February 2, 1957). 

Evidently there was some disagreement or confusion as to asset distribution as Eleanor B. Moore had to bring litigation against her brother, Eric T. Babendreer.  The Chancery Court judge ruled in September 1960 that Eric Babendreer would receive the west half of the estate, and Eleanor B. Moore the east half (JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 15512 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 201, p. 574).

Eleanor B. Moore began selling off her fifteen acres in November 1960, when she sold 1.57 acres to Ed Barq Jr. The Babendrier House was sold to John W. Adams on August 8, 1966 (Jackson County Deed book 296, p. 212).  Other purchasers of Eleanor B. Moore's land were:  J.H. McFarland (1963), A.C. Cuicchi (1972), C.B. Ishee (1972), and Thomas B. Roberts (1984).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 203, p. 403 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 296, p. 212)

Eric Turner sold his fourteen acres to Nelson and Charles Freeburg in April 1964.  Nelson conveyed the tract to the Ocean Springs Municipal Separate School District in September 1966.  The Pecan Park Elementary School on Hanley Road was built on this acreage in 1967.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 255, p. 371 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 298, p. 348)

When Eleanor B. Moore sold the house to John W. Adams and Myrtle D. Adams (1966) the following reservation was made concerning the gravesite of her parents: Reserving and retaining however, for and on behalf of myself and my brother, Eric Barbendreer, the right of ingress and egress to and from the grave site of our father and mother, it being distinctly understood that the grantees shall keep and maintain said grave site so long as they are in possession of the above described land.(Jackson County, Ms. Land Deed Book 296, p. 212)   

In June 1984, Eleanor B. Moore, a resident of Florence, Lauderdale County, Alabama released Thomas B. Roberts and Hollis M. Roberts who had acquired the Babendrier gravesite from the obligation to maintain her parents graves.  This instrument was recorded in Jackson County, Ms. Land Deed Book 800, p. 76, and appears as follows:

Now therefore in consideration of the Roberts accepting the hereinafter set forth condition, which they do by acceptance of this instrument, the said Eleanor B. Moore does hereby annul, alter and change the obligation above described so that the said Roberts and their successors in title to the parcel on which her Mother and Fathers graves are situated and designated on Exhibit A as Grave Site Lot shall only be under the duty and obligation of removing debris, caused if and when the crypt over said graves shall deteriorate to such extent as to cave in, crumble or collapse, then filling the graves to make them even with the surface of the surrounding ground and setting up the present markers, but the said Roberts and their successors in title shall be under no other or further obligation or duty with reference to said grave sites.          

Tomb

The Babendrier tomb is located on a gravesite lot approximately 123 feet by 40 feet.  It rests on the extreme north end of the lot near the road.  According to Bette Bradford Milsted, the Babendrier tomb was built during the depression years by her father, Fred Bradford (1878-1951).  Mr. Bradford was a master mason and builder at Ocean Springs.  His skills were incorporated in such structures as John B. Honor's "Many Oaks" (1918), the First Baptist Church (1909), and Dr. J.J. Bland's New Beach Hotel (1909).

The Babendrier's tomb is enclosed by a 16 foot by 20 foot cement coping which is 4 inches tall and 6 inches wide.  The cement semi-mausoleum which is 9 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 3.75 feet tall was originally constructed to house six bodies.  The glass covered, vacuum sealed caskets of the two doctors are resting in this underground vault.    Entrance to the subterranean portion of the tomb is sheltered by an approximately 5 foot by 6 foot cement slab which has recently been cemented shut.  Two small marble tombstones (2 feet x 1.25 feet), which mark the graves of the Babendriers are located north and south of the tomb.          

Harriett Clough Hale

In addition to the Babendriers another grave is located on the site.  On February 25, 1955, Harriett Clough Hale (1887-1955), a native of Maine was buried just outside of the cement coping four feet to the north.  Her grave is marked by a small metal marker.  Mrs. Hale came to Ocean Springs circa 1941.  She lived on the property and served as Estelle Babendrier's nurse when she became feeble in her later years.  Mrs. Hale also operated a branch of the Biloxi Laundry on Washington Avenue in the early 1950s.

In addition several families in the neighborhood have interred their household pets in the cemetery.  The graves of these animals are distinguished with wooden markers.

 

CEMETERY REGISTER

 

Albert Babendreer, M.D.                                                     Estelle T. Babendreer, M.D.

 November 13, 1867                                                                                July 28, 1871

June 19, 1938                                                                                           March 12, 1958

 

Harriett Clough Hale

1887 to February 24, 1955

 

REFERENCES:

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, "Citrus Growers", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula-1982), p. 55.

Requiem, Volume No. 3, "Babendreer Burial Plot", (Jackson County Genealogical Society:  Pascagoula - 1972?), p. 112.

Physician's License Book No. 2, Jackson County Circuit Court, Jackson County, Mississippi, p. 197.

Polks Biloxi City Directory (1922-1923), p. 87 and p. 92.

The Daily Herald"Dr. Babendreer Dies at Ocean Springs", June 20, 1938, p. 1, c. 4.

The Daily Herald"Dr. Babendreer Buried", June 21, 1938, p. 3.

The Daily Herald"Mrs. H.C. Hale Obit", February 25, 1955, p. 2, c. 1.

The Daily Herald"Dr. Estelle Babendrier Obit", March 12, 1958, p. 2, c. 1.

The Mississippi Press Register"Babendreer", (1979-1984), p. 1.

Personal Communication:

Bette Milsted

Donald Scharr

Robert Friar

E.W. Halstead

Margaret Vallor

John Vallor

Greg Denyer

Orwin Scharr

Ruth Scharr

Mrs. Henry Weyerstall

George E. Arndt

 

Ray L. Bellande

PO Box 617

Ocean Springs

Mississippi 39564

January 12, 1993