This Week’s History Quiz Answer: Thomas Hubbard

Thomas Rumbold Hubbard and his wife, Josephine Mason Hubbard.

Who built t 402 High St.?

A. Thomas Hubbard

B.  Richard Hynson

C.  Thomas Topping

D.  Charles Wescott

Answer A.  Thomas Hubbard

402 High Street, a prime example of eye-catching high Victorian architectural grace, was built in 1877 by Thomas Rumbold Hubbard.  Born in Caroline County, Maryland, in 1831, he died in Chestertown in 1910.

An 1877 plan of Chestertown shows High St. as being built up on both sides.  Hubbard must have been a successful merchant, as the 402 High Street address would have been a prime site next door to the spacious Italianate manse of U.S. Senator George Vickers.

Hubbard Fertilizer Company circa 1914. The company headquarters moved to Baltimore by then after Wilbur W. Hubbard bought a fertilizer company there and changed the name to Hubbard Fertilizer. The family remained Chestertown-based.

The Hubbard name is a familiar reminder of the many generations of old families who sustained the  building of Chestertown through three centuries of ups and downs.

Thomas married Josephine Mason (1842-1901) in 1859.  She is remembered as “a lady distinguished for her personal charm and beautiful Christian character.”  Their children were Wilbur Watson (born 1860) and Anna (born1862).  Wilbur and his wife, Etta, became leaders in Chestertown, well-known through their business and their generosity of time and money contributed to promoting the town’s “improvement.”

In 1875, Thomas and his two brothers, John Edward and William Lemuel, opened a business called “Hubbard Brothers” that manufactured  super phosphates They were considered the pioneers in the fertilizer business on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Commercial fertilizers were  critical to reconstitution of the southern U.S. agricultural industry trying to function with a compromised soil depleted from previous tobacco crops.  Earlier types of fertilizers were composed from guano from farmyards and later guano imported from Peru. But at the time of the Hubbard Brothers’ entry into the business, a chemical break-through in the process using nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium allowed the successful manufacture of commercially-made fertilizer.

In 1878, by mutual consent, the brothers dissolved their partnership. Thomas formed a new firm with his son, Wilbur Watson Hubbard, named “T. R. Hubbard & Son.”  He remained active in the business until his death.

More recent history saw the growth of that business under the leadership of Wilbur Watson Hubbard and it’s ultimately becoming one of the largest of its kind in the U.S.  It was last known by the name “Peerless Fertilizer.”

Thanks once again to researchers who have preceded the Kent Pilot.

The Kent County History Quiz is a weekly local brainteaser sponsored by The Peoples Bank. Kent County historian and author Joan Horsey and columnist Kate Meehan contribute to the quiz’s development. Our goal is to create an opportunity for local learning and discussion. If you have a quiz idea, send it to steve@kentpilot.org.

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