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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography of Thomas Hubbard

SOURCE: "History of Champaign County, Illinois," by J. O. Cunningham, 1905


THOMAS S. HUBBARD. The New England states have contributed more to the growth, development and permanency of western institutions than all the other states combined. Evidence of Yankee thrift, push and superior intelligence are to be found on every hand throughout the greaat west. A new era marked the advent of the New Englander in the west; he brought with him culture, education and ideas, the outgrowth of his superior advantages and education obtained in the schools of states that were the first to recognize the importance of the education of the masses and the fostering of institutions of learning. Soon after their arrival school houses and churches began to spring up and dot the land and the crude, rough ways and pioneer customs gave way before superior intelligence and education. Their intelligence, thrift and energy made them valuable acquisitions and welcome visitors in every new settlement.

The Hubbard family are originally of English ancestry, and of an old New England family. George HUBBARD, the father of Thomas S., was a native of Middletown, Conn. In his early life he followed the calling of sea captain. When the embargo was laid upon the shipping interests in 1829 by President Jackson, he abandoned the sea and engaged in hotel keeping and farming. He died in 1833. He married Electa BRONSON, who was born in Farmington, Conn. She died in August, 1863. Thomas S. was the only son and eighth child. He was born in Middletown, Conn., September 25th, 1825. He received his education primarily in the excellent schools of his native village, and in 1845 entered Yale college from which institution he graduated in 1849. In that class was Timothy Dwight, now president of Yale; also Dr. Fisk, professor in the Congregational Theological Seminary, of Chicago, and Dr. Morris, who now occupies the same position in the Lane Theological Seminary, of Ohio. After Mr. Hubbard’s graduation he engaged in the manufacture of Japanned tinware and hardware in Meriden and Durham, Conn. He continued thus engaged until 1854, when he closed out his interests and came west, landing in Urbana December 8th, 1854. Here he went to church in the primitive M.E. meeting house that stood on the spot where Heiler and Toyu’s livery stable now stands, with puncheon seats, and heard the gentle murmur of the festive hog as he scratched his back upon the sleepers from his lair beneath the floor, regardless of prayer or song or of the usual church proprieties.

Here he engaged in private banking and continued until in February, 1856; he then accepted the position of cashier in the Grand Prairie Bank, which had a branch at West Urbana. These were the only banks in Champaign county, prior to 1861. Mr. Hubbard continued cashier until the latter date; he then engaged in the grocery and hardware trade and continued it until 1866, when he moved to Cromwell, Conn. (formerly a part of Middletown) and remained until 1869, when he returned to Urbana. Since the latter date he has been engaged in the hardware trade.

When Mr. Hubbard first settled in Urbana there was not a brick house in the town except a small one story dwelling house situated at the southwest corner of the court house square. The store building now occupied by Mr. Lowenstern & Son was bult one story and completed the following year. The Illinois Central railroad was finished to Champaign in the fall of 1854, but did not run trains regularly that winter. Mr. Hubbard’s banking office and residence from 1854 to 1856 were on the same ground now occupied by his hardware store.

Mr. Hubbard married Miss Jane E., daughter of WillisWOODRUFF, M.D., of Meriden, Conn., November 14th, 1849. Of this union there are four children whose names are as follows: George W., who married Miss Edna P. POST, of Cromwell, Conn. He is a member of the firm of Hubbard & Son, hardware merchants, Urbana. Minne W., Julia E. and Harry T. are yet at home.

Mr. Hubbard and his entire family are members of the Presbyterian church. In his political affiliations he has always acted and voted with the republican party; he was a member of the board of aldermen from 1875 to 1879 and from 1884 to 1886.

Mr. Hubbard is a genuine representative of the thrift and enterprise of the New Englander described above. He is every ready to aid every enterprise that gives promise of building up the town and county. He and his son, George W., his partner, conduct one of the largest hardware, stove and tin stores in the county and have for years done a profitable business.

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