Betty "Honey Babe" Langhorn

Honey Babe was the popular name for a well known bag lady in the Monroe community whose real name was Betty Langhorn.

According to the 1910 Census records for Monroe, La., she was 35 years old in 1910. She officially listed as a “wash woman” that year. Between 1910 and 1935 she met and married John Langhorn. In 1924 the Monroe City Directory listed John and Betty as owning a home in the colored neighborhood. The couple was shown to have six children. In 1925 Betty Langhorn was listed alone.
She was one of several women who conducted kindergarten classes in her home. In the community there were others of note include Lillie Blanche Holts and Bessie Brooks, all of whom were noted kindergarten teachers in the era before public schools accepted kindergarten students.

According to those who knew Mrs. Langhorn, she was a very likeable person who was fond of children. The name “Honey babe” was said to be a name her husband called her children.
In addition, she was very frugal with her money. She didn’t trust banks and saved her money from teaching the children and stored it in Mason canning jars, pickle jars and Prince Albert Tobacco cans in her house. Her life was very routine and uneventful.

However, one day in 1925 she came home only to find her house in flames with her own children consumed in the flames.
The shock of the loss was too much for Mrs. Langhorn. She lost all sense of direction. She scavenged through the rubble of her house, found the bottles and cans filled with her life savings and buried them in separate holes all over the community, in vacant lots, under houses and anywhere else that looked inconspicuous.

She began to walk the streets without purpose or direction.talking to herself, dressed in the same dress, a large coat, and burlap sack cloth wrapped around her feet for shoes. She scavenged and begged. Often she stood at the old Missouri Pacific train station and begged for nickels from strangers. She also sold some of the merchandise she found in junk piles. She was so likeable and at the same time pitiful that everyone seemed to help her.

Honey Babe rarely spent any of the money she made from scavenging or begging. She exchanged it for paper money and had it sewn into the hem of her tattered dress. Once she asked an 11th street friend Mr. Albert Hopkins to sew her money inside of her hem, which he did.

Honey Babe was often seen carrying a five gallon can of water which she used to wash herself, then took off her ragged clothes, washed them and put them back on again. She made herself a home wherever she could find shelter. For a while she slept underneath Mr. Hopkin’s home until she nearly burned it down trying to keep warm in the winter. She was often seen leaning card board boxes against fences and sleeping under the boxes. At times she made herself a shelter by constructing an outhouse type structure near the railroad tracks that was often covered with burlap sacks and boxes.
It was strange site for a community that had never seen homelessness. In the South, everybody lived with somebody especially Negro women. If she did not live in pasteboard boxes, then she lived in the Magnolia Cemetery off Desiard Street. That was a fact that struck fear in the children who believed she was a ghost woman and a demon. Roy Shelling recalls a time when he and his teen-aged friends came home late from a party and tried to save time by taking the short cut through the cemetery. Much to their horror Honey Babe awakened in the middle of the night and made loud noises as she yawned. Shelling and his friends were horrified. They ran for dear life.

It was ironic that Honey babe was feared by the children because she spent a large portion of her life teaching them. In fear, children threw rocks at her, and ran away in tears whenever she approached. She never hurt a single child but could often be heard walking the street mumbling her Kindergarten songs “ABCDEFG…”
Some who knew her, report that despite her condition, Honey Babe was quite benevolent. On at least two occasions she overheard families struggling to provide for their children, one with a serious sickness and another with near malnutrition. The families were praising God when mysteriously a Mason jar filled with money appeared on their respective porches. They suspected the jars came from Honey Babe though she never said.

That’s when the rumors began to spread that Honey Babe had money. They spread even faster after workmen who were preparing ground for a Joe LaDart’s bar found money stuffed in Prince Albert Cans and Mason jars buried in the lot. Mr. Hopkins then reported that after he ran Honey Babe from under his house that he found money buried in Prince Albert Cans, syrup buckets and jars underneath house.
There was a gold rush attitude in the community as those who heard about it started to dig around every open lot and field for Honey Babes treasures. One man came with a tractor and tried to dig up an entire field hoping to cash in on Honey Babe’s treasure.

They followed her secretly but she never returned to a single spot where she hid her treasure.

Somehow, whenever there was a child in trouble, local folk believed that good Lord somehow made a Mason jar full of old dollars appear just as Honey Babe disappeared.
After roaming the streets for many years, sleeping on the streets and in the cemetery and helping a lot of people, time caught up with her at last. In 1957 she had made herself an uninvited guest of the Liberty Hill Baptist Church where on one cold night she lit a fire inside the church to keep warm. The blaze set fire to the church. No action was taken against the lovable Honeybabe whose steps had slowed to a crawl.

In May of 1958 Honey Babe had a heart attack in front of a shanty she constructed at 16th and Grammont Street. According to the Coroner’s report, she fell into a ditch, but because of her condition and age could not get up and drowned face down in a small pool of water. She was 83 years old and despite living on the streets for 33 years was never sick a single day of her life.
Many local residents were saddened by the news.

No one knows who did it, but someone who admired her, paid a local funeral home to give Honey Babe a royal funeral. She had an expensive casket, a room full of flowers and the finest dress and hairdo anyone had seen in years.

Honey Babe is resting in peace. But her life is spoken of more frequently in the folklore of Monroe than many would suspect.
She gave of herself to help the children and that was her treasure.
People are still trying to find Honey Babe’s treasure until this day.