Former Ilion Chief of Police

Below are newspaper stories about Jesse Babcock, former Ilion chief of police, contributed by his granddaughter, Barbara Babcock.

Thursday July 11, 1935, unknown newspaper


Came to This Village From Lyons In 1915 and Became Head of Local Police Department on the Death of Chief George Huck in 193l--has Witnessed Many Changes in Law Enforcement Since He Joined Force.

Chief of Police Jesse Babcock has just completed his 20th year of service with the local police force.

He was appointed chief in August 1931, on the death of George J. Huck, and will have served four years in that capacity next August.

Chief Babcock came to Ilion from Lyons Falls in March, 1915 and was employed on the Remington Arms company police force in April of that year, where he remained until July when he went on the village force. At that time the local department, was made up of four men. Chief Babcock made it five. There are now six regular officers on the force.

The late George J. Huck was chief of the department when Babcock joined the force. Chief Babcock has acted as assistant chief for six years prior to his appointment as chief and has served as patrolman for 10 years.

There have been a large number of changes in this village during the 20 years since Chief Babcock came to the force. There were then four patrolmen, under Chief George Huck, and the old police station and jail were located on Union Street, where the Taxi stand is now located. The department moved to the municipal building in the fall of 1928.

There are now six regular patrolmen and one special officer, and the department is equipped with an up-to-date prowl car and patrol, and motorcycle officers.

Assistant Chief Mott is Chief Babcock's aide.

Congratulations, Chief Babcock.

From a newspaper article in the "Evening Telegram", about 1941


Ilion: Chief of Police Jesse Babcock came to his office at the municipal building this morning as usual, greeted fellow employees with his usual cordial smile and went to work. On the surface it was just another day.

Another day. Those calendar pulsations that tick a man through life on that hectic march from the cradle to the grave, no matter what his station in life. The chief was 69.

Another day. But when the chief picked up the usual routine, he was starting on what may his last year as head of the Ilion Police department, for a year hence he will be 70 and subject to retirement under the civil service, unless he gets an extension from the state. Chief "Dusty" Long of Lyons Falls stayed on for five years, before retiring last year. Chief Babcock doesn't know how he'll feel a year from now. At the moment the thought doesnt much appeal, but he's an ardent hunter and, well...time will tell.


Another day. On his birthday the chief recalled many things. His first contact with Ilion, for instance, when at 12 he ran away from home in Lewis County, via the Black River canal, to become a tow path driver. The boys driving mules on the "main stem" Erie didn't like the boys who brought smaller barges down the narrow gaage canal from the north. Going through Ilion young Babcock met such a driver. In a fight both fell into the canal near now what is the center of Ilion. Boatmen hauled them out and the chief recalled the captain bought him a new outfit so he could get dry before the boat continued to Albany.

Another day. The chief probably thought of the coincidence that brought him here. Born in Watertown, he was practically brought up in the woods. After touring most of the lumber camps of the United States, a party of Oswego manufacturers he was guiding one fall in 19l4 offered him a factory job any time he wanted to leave the woods. The next spring he decided to take it.


He went to Lyons Falls and there met a friend who prevailed upon him to go via Utica. While walking about Utica streets, they decided to come here and possibly seek a job in the Remington Arms which then was laying the foundations for the long plant on Main St. Babcock got a job with the construction company and helped build the plant.

When a police opening developed in 1915 he became on of 20 applicants and got the job. He was a quarter of the force then, which had two men on nights and two days. Ten years ago he made chief.

Another day. Yes, it's just another day, so realization that it's chief is 69 may come as a surprise to many Ilionites. Certainly the thought that he may soon retire will bring strong regret to the Majority, particularly to village officials who know his worth from close association.

Another day. And the Evening Telegram joins with the community in saying, "Happy birthday, chief."

Unknown date, unknown paper but likely "The Evening Telegram" and likely 1945

Retiring Chief Recalls Incidents in Career from Watertown to Ilion
By Ruth Elliott

Swirling, leaping, form-crested brown Andirondack water, seemed to sweep through the Office of the Chief of Police in the Municipal Building Tuesday morning as Chief Jesse Babcock, who is to retire June 20 after 30 years, recalled days spent on the Moose River many years ago, when he worked around Lyons Falls as a lumberman.

Babcock was born in Watertown and has been a member of the Ilion police force since July 1, 1915, and chief since August 1, 1931. He came to Ilion in March 1915 and was employed as a guard in the Remington Arms until he joined the "regulars"

Among the outstanding cases he recalls since he has been chief is the robbery of the parochial residence on West St. when burglars broke in around 2:30 a.m. on May 12, 1932, and failing to open the safe forced the priests at the point of a gun to open it for them.

They awakened Father Griesman, who didn't know the combination and then Father Gilloon who did. Their $100 cash loot didn't do them much good however, as quick work by the police saw them locked up at 6 p.m. that same night, after being traced through a car license number. The leader of the pair had only been out of Federal prison about three months.

There was also a case of murder and suicide, when a man shot and killed his wife and them himself. Another, concerns the out-of-town policeman who entered the house where his estranged wife was living with their daughter, shot and killed her in bed and then going to another room wounded his son. The boy struggled with him and as he did so--the daughter ran across the road and phoned police. Officers Meehan and Wooley responded and the man was captured.

Babcock says that regulations forbid any connection with the village payroll after his retirement but he thinks so highly of the volunteer Police that he will join them.

His hobbies are hunting and fishing but he expects his Victory Garden will take quite a lot of his time this year. He raises all the fresh vegetables used by his family of three, which includes his wife and daughter Alice. Mrs. Babcock cans the surplus for winter use.

He' a little worried about his wife just now. She has been in the hospital since an operation two weeks ago and is, he thinks, getting too ambitious too quickly. He wants her to "take it easy."

The chief plans to take it easy, too, for awhile and hopes when the gasoline situation clears up, to visit Lyonsdale again where the Moose River rolls and logs tumbled over roaring falls in the years long gone.

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Created 12/14/00
Copyright © 2000 Barbara Babcock
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