Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
New England States Vermont Montpelier Obituary of John Erastus Hubbard

Obituary of John Erastus Hubbard

1899 Argus and Patriot, July 19, 1899, Page 3

Death of John E. Hubbard

John E. Hubbard died at his home on Main street early last Monday morning of cancer of the liver, after an illness which had confined him to his bed not over six weeks.  Mr. Hubbard was one of the leading men as well as one of the wealthiest in the city, having been at the time of his death the largest individual taxpayer in Montpelier.

The Kellogg-Hubbard library also stands as a memorial to his name.  He was a charitably disposed gentlemen and has done a great deal that will never be known or written about.  He would have been 52 years of age if he had lived until October 24.

The disease of which Mr. Hubbard died has undoubtedly been approaching for years, although the rapid progress it has made had not been realized until this year.

He fell from a bicycle not long ago and it was believed at first that this had caused it, but the physicians consider had little to do with the start of the disease.  Early in the spring Mr. Hubbard became to show signs of failing and a few weeks later was obliged to remain in the house.  Within six weeks his physicians recommended that he be placed in bed and since then he has gradually grown weaker, yet so well did he bear up that it was not noticed that the climax was at hand until Friday.

On that day Dr. Garland, of Boston, was telegraphed and with Dr. Goodale, of this city, consulted.  They decided that Mr. Hubbard's condition was critical and that his end was drawing near.

Mr. Hubbard has realized full well his condition all along and has taken it with wonderful coolness.  He never showed the lease sign of excitement and had evidently resigned himself to the fate he knew was inevitable.  All through his illness he gave evidence of the wonderful calm nerve that has been characteristic of him all through life, taking things in that well known, quiet, careful and thoughtful way.  The funeral is to be held this afternoon and Rev. J. Edward Wright will officiate.

During his life he has never appeared to have been swayed by what people said, but relied on his own judgment which he made up in his unbiased way, and truly no act of his can be said to have been instigated by any spirit of revenge.  Those who were associated with him in the library matter grew to know him better than and realize what a man of brains he was.

When a man passes away it is said that many good things are found to write about him, yet even those who have been opposed to his policy acknowledge that they would undoubtedly have done the same thing had they been in his place.

All during a dispute that has stirred the city to the lowest depth his bitterest opponents must agree that he carried himself with wonderful propriety, and no murmur of ill will toward any man was heard from his lips, no matter what his mind had thought.

John E. Hubbard was born in this city October 24, 1847.  He was the son of Erastus Hubbard and Arabella G, daughter of Amphus Blake, of Chelsea.  Erastus Hubbard, his father, was also a native of Montpelier, having been born here September 8, 1811.  His grandfather was Roger Hubbard, who came to this place in 1779 from Connecticut and possessed all the shrewdness of the settlers of the celebrated Nutmeg State.  In fact it has been told that his first visit to Montpelier was as a tin peddler, as the best peddlers of this sort and the dispensers of the famous nutmegs in those days came from Connecticut.

The exact time of his coming is not known, but he undoubtedly visited this place many times and liking the locality came to live here.  He carried on merchandising with Capt. Timothy Hubbard, his brother, and about 1814 sold out his interest in the business and took up his home on the farm now known as "Hubbard Meadow," where he resided about seven years.

The name of this part of Montpelier still remains "Hubbard's Meadow," and on it are built some of the best residences of Montpelier.

In 1822 Roger Hubbard built a store and 10 years later he left the business in the hands of John Hubbard's father, Erastus.

It has also been told of Erastus Hubbard that he remembered the mustering in the streets of the militia company preparatory to marching to the battle of Plattsburgh in September, 1814, and that he commanded a company of boys who ranged in line and saluted Gen. Lafayette on his visit to this city.

This it can be seen that the line from which the deceased is descended were all shrewd business men, and no one more shrewd, or having a better business capacity than Roger, the original settler, who came from Connecticut with his cart and his innumerable household goods for sale or exchange.

John E. Hubbard received his education in the public schools in Montpelier as did his father before him.  Later he engaged in business in Boston, where he remained three years, and spent a year in traveling.
His rather, Erastus, came into possession of the whole Hubbard estate.  It was he who laid out the meadow into streets and commenced the building in that portion of the town.  On election day in the fall of 1848 Erastus met with an accident, caused by the explosion of gunpowder, which injured his eyes so much that his sight gradually failed him until he became blind.

Notwithstanding this misfortune he transacted a great amount of business, yet the management of his estate gradually fell to John, his son.

The energetic qualities of the Hubbards was evidenced in the building of the present Union block, which was commenced on the day following the destruction by fire of the structure which stood in its place.  The fire occurred in 1875, and the present Union block is owned jointly by John E. Hubbard and Fred E. Smith.

Erastus Hubbard enlarged the water system opened by Roger, his father, and it has been in use as such as 75 years.  John Hubbard, his son, successfully managed the "Hubbard Spring Water" system a long time previous to and and since his father's death.  BY means of underground pipes a great many private houses in the city are furnished with water than which there is no better in the State.  Erastus Hubbard died in 1890.

The Hubbards were at one time the largest real estate owners in the city.  Erastus Hubbard contributed liberally toward the building of the Pavilion hotel and other home enterprises, and was one of three citizens who signed a bond for $100,000 which enabled the work on the State house to be continued without interruption.

Mr. Hubbard's mother survived him, at the advanced age of 84 years.  Mrs. B. F. Fifield, who died during the recent winter, was his only sister.

Mr. Hubbard has been a Republican in politics, yet never took an active part, and on the whole entertained liberal views toward all.  His father, Erastus, was an old line Whig, but later voted for Gen. Harrison, and also for his grandson in 1888.  Religiously he favored the "Church of the Messiah."

Through the death of Mrs. Fanny M. Hubbard Kellogg, in 1890, Mr. Hubbard came into possession of a large fortune.  Mr. and Mrs. Kellogg made mutual wills, each leaving the property to the other.  Mr. Kellogg died in 1889 and his property passed to his wife.  She made a will shortly before her death, leaving $50,000 for the erection of a chapel in Green Mount cemetery, $5,000 for the erection of gates to the cemetery, and the remainder to be expanded in building, furnishing and stocking a public library in Montpelier.

When the will was offered for probate, Mr. Hubbard, the sole surviving heir of Mrs. Kellogg, objected, on the ground that the will was irregular.  Considerable testimony was heard at two hearings before the surrogate in New York and one before a commission in Montpelier, and probate of the will was refused by the surrogate on the ground that the will had not been property executed.

The town of Montpelier, as orator, then brought a bill in chancery, setting forth the facts and praying that Mr. Hubbard be compelled to deed the property to eh town and that an injunction issue to restrain him from selling or in any way disposing of the property until the case should be decided.

The injunction issued, but before the case ever came to trial a compromise was effected by which Mr. Hubbard agreed to erect a library building and provide a fund to be used for its maintenance and the remainder of the property passed to him.  He was very liberal in carrying out his agreement regarding the library and has been very generous with that institution since it opened.

1895 One thousand years of Hubbard history, 866 to 1895. From Hubba, the Norse sea king, to the enlightened present, compiled by Edward Warren Day
Page 360:  Descent line of John Erastus Hubbard
Page 441:  Portrait of John Erastus Hubbard and a picture and information about the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier.

2015 Morris A. Pierce