Transcribed by Mary Ann Kaylor
BABENEL, PETER (deceased) - The older generation of Springfield well remembers Peter Babenel, the veteran piano builder, whose almost perfect work and genial manner endeared him to many. He was born in France, January 22, 1819, and his life was a varied one. A son of Eugene and Elizabeth Babenal, also natives of France, Peter Babenel was carefully reared, and taught the piano-making trade. Believing that there was more opportunity for him in America, the young Frenchman emigrated and found plenty of work of the kind he understood and was able to do so thoroughly. For fifty years he made Springfield his home, and gained the confidence and respect of all who came into contact with him. He was a member of the last regiment to leave Springfield for the Civil War, and was a brave and faithful soldier. The death of this good man occurred July 22, 1872, and he was laid to rest in Oak Ridge Cemetery. When his wife passed away on September 11, 1902, she was placed by his side.
Peter Babenel married Mahala Hoffer, born in Jacksonville, Ill., September 4, 1826. She was there educated and prior to her marriage was a dressmaker. They had children as follows: Emma, born December 31, 1854, is married and resides in Springfield; Walter, born February 12, 1856; Mrs. Carrie Saylor, born January 26, 1857, is a widow and resides at No. 618 Walnut Street, Springfield; Lilly, born in October, 1862, resides at Decatur, Ill.; George born March 4, 1865, is married and resides in St. Louis; and Maud, born in 1869.
Peter Babenel was a Mason, belonging to Lodge No. 4, and was also an Odd Fellow. He early connected himself with the Presbyterian Church, to which his wife also belonged and gave it his hearty support. In political convictions he was a strong Democrat, but never held office nor desired to do so. He was a man who never restrained himself with regard to making friends. Few doors in Springfield opened so easily and hospitably as his. There was ever a place at his board for friend or stranger, and none ever applied to him for help, who did not receive it. His memory survives because of his high personal attributes.