Hubbard, ten miles southwest of Dakota City in Dakota County, was named for Judge Asahel Hubbard, president of the Covington, Columbus & Black Hills Railroad. However, the town was laid out by the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway Company in 1880. Surveyed by James Leahy, the depot was the first building in town, followed by a hotel and store run by John Meyer, the first postmaster.
In 1885 permission was received to establish a Catholic parish, with the village of Homer as a mission. The church, named St. Mary’s by Bishop O’Conner, was incorporated on November 3, 1886.
The population of Hubbard precinct (the town and rural area), was 385 in 1890. By 1895 the citizens of the town boasted of their progress, having at that time two general stores, a coal and lumber dealer, a blacksmith, a saloon, three dressmakers, a station agent, three carpenters, a music teacher, and a school teacher.
The first school was a mile east of Hubbard, with the oldest census dated April 1888. The high school became a reality in 1906. No records are available, however, to show when the school, which burned in 1922, was built. A new building was in place by that fall, and continues to serve the community. The gymnasium, a WPA (Work Progress Administration) project, was added in the early 1940s. In April 1961 the community, realizing the need for a larger building and improved curriculum, merged with Emerson to form Emerson-Hubbard Schools. We are proud of the number of young people who have gone far in the professional and business world.
Trinity Lutheran Church was established in 1908. Services had been held in the school or Woodman Hall. The Danish Sisterhood urged the building project, “…not to exceed $1,200.” A bell, purchased for $48, still rings, calling worshipers to services.
From 1900 to the 1920s, there were eight passenger trains going through Hubbard every day, and additional freight trains. The line was discontinued in 1977 and the rails removed.
Hubbard has been featured in Collier’s Magazine. First in 1947 when a train wrecked and many Clyde Beaty Circus animals escaped. An estimated 3,000 persons came to Hubbard to view the sight. Ethel Skoog, who ran the restaurant, had extra food rushed to town, and called in help to accommodate the crowds. The animals were all successfully corralled in the stock yards.
A second article was featured about Hubbard’s unique method of naming its town board. From 1955 until the first election by ballot in 1962, board members were appointed “by the point of a finger or hearsay.”
Highway 35 came through Hubbard in 1959, changing the town forever. All the buildings on the east side of the street, except the hotel, had to go. Jack Heeney built a new store on the west side of the street, and the post office was moved to the lot where the Woodman Hall stood, and was destroyed by fire when the grocery store burned.
Hubbard’s water system was installed prior to 1925. The land for the water tower is recorded in the Village files as being bought from Dan Harty for $35. In 1979, with the assistance of a block grant, old water mains were replaced, new fire hydrants installed, and the village name painted on the tower. Further modernization was done in 1968 when a sewerage system was installed. A new water tower was erected in 2001.
Main Street was paved in 1972, and a mobile home court was added in 1975. Several new homes were built in 1976 (the first in many years), older homes fixed up, and improvements made. An existing building was moved to a city lot for a fire hall in 1988. Community projects built the city park named for John Heffernan and a baseball park in 1983. The population since 1980 has been posted at 234.
The VanLent Body Shop, owned by Bob and Twila VanLent, was tenant in the Heeney Feed Store from 1983 until it was sold to Junior and Ardie Hughes in 1992. The building was torn down and a gas station mini mart was built, drastically changing the look of Main Street. A trucking firm, HME, Inc. opened up for business in 1991 inside part of the Heeney Store. HME, Inc. expanded its business and moved across the highway in 1995 to where the old lumberyard had been and expanding yet again in 2005 with a new metal building next door.
A community fundraiser in 2005 for the Emerson-Hubbard Volunteer Fire and Rescue was organized in Hubbard drawing hundreds of people from the surrounding communities raising thousands of dollars. Also that year a new building was constructed and the business, Country Cuts & Tanning, opened just south of the US Post Office. Renovation efforts for Heffernan Park were started in 2007 with the completion of the project in 2008 by yet another community project. In 2010 Hubbard Hoot Owl Days was initiated bringing hundreds of people together for a celebration, including the first organized parade on Hubbard’s Main Street, softball tournament, children’s carnival and Show and Shine car show.
At the centennial celebration, many old photos and items were displayed, and long-time residents honored at the dinner held in November 1980. St. Mary’s church celebrated its century of faith in 1986 with a Eucharist service, dinner, program, and display in the Hubbard gymnasium.
Hubbard is the hub of a very proficient farming community. Despite hardships and natural disasters, our town has rebounded, leaving a heritage of strong-willed citizens and a firm foundation for a bright future.
Excerpts from Hubbard Centennial Booklet, 1880-1989, Charlene Jensen and updated by Trudy Jepsen 2011.