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Tracking Harlan Hubbard
1900 – Harlan Hubbard is born Jan. 4 in Bellevue, Ky. (across from Cincinnati). He is the youngest of three brothers.
1907 – His father, Frank Gilbert Hubbard, dies.
1912 – Older brothers Frank and Lucien move to New York City for careers in newspaper work.
1915 – Hubbard and his mother follow his brothers to New York City.
1918-1921 – He finishes high school in the Bronx and then attends the National Academy of Design and also the Cincinnati Art School.
1919 – Returns to Fort Thomas, Ky., with his mother. Works as a day laborer, learning masonry and carpentry skills. Meets Cornelius Willison at the Brent, Ky., Frame, Door and Sash Factory.
1923 – Builds a home for his mother and himself at 129 Highland Ave., Fort Thomas. He lives there until his mother’s death in November 1943.
1924 – Works for Willison at the factory.
1927 – After Willison dies, Hubbard converts part of the factory into an art studio and paints there until July 1931. He then converts an attic bedroom of his home into a studio.
1929 – Hubbard begins keeping a journal. He continues writing until Feb. 10, 1968, ending with the observation, “Wrote some after dinner. Unusual.”
1934 – Rents studio with physician friend Clay Crawford in Ross, Ky., about nine miles from Fort Thomas. Paints there until 1938.
1938 – Builds a painting studio in the back yard of the family home in Fort Thomas. His early paintings will be stored there until 1972-73.
1943 – Marries Anna Eikenhout, a librarian at the Cincinnati Public Library, on April 20. He is 43, she is 40. The settle into a "shack" along the river in Brent.
1944 – Over two years, Hubbard builds a shantyboat from scrap lumber, and in early December, the couple moves aboard. Two weeks later, the water rises and the boat begins its journey down the Ohio River. The arrive in Payne Hollow on Feb. 17 and decide to spend the summer there. It becomes the first of four long stops on the voyage to New Orleans. During that summerlong stay in 1947, Hubbard, at the request of the congregation, made a painting for the Mt. Byrd Christian Church in Milton, Ky. It still hangs in the sanctuary.
1950 – The Hubbards reach New Orleans, 1,385 miles downriver from Brent. Their journey ends at Bayour Delcambre in the Louisiana Cajun country. The couple sells their shantyboat and johnboat for $679, buy a car and homemade camping trailer and return to Fort Thomas.
1951 – The Hubbards set out for California by car and trailer, beginning in September and ending in April 1952. They return to Cincinnati and began looking for a place to live upriver. But Harlan writes that he had "a home feeling about Madison, Milton and Carrollton." They return to Payne Hollow on June 17, 1951, making camp there. On Oct. 11, they buy seven acres from Ansel McCord and build a home overlooking the river. They move into the half-finished dwelling on Nov. 12 into a room only slightly larger than the cabin on their shantyboat. Over the next 34 years, the Hubbards live quietly along the river, affording them a solitary, self-sufficient existence away from the world’s modern conveniences and allowing Harlan the opportunity to write, paint, tend gardens and fish. They befriend many in the area, and Harlan either sells, barters with or gives away his artwork. The Hubbards obtain reading materials from local libraries, play music together and entertain hundreds of guests at their primitive home.
1953 – Shantyboat, Hubbard’s narrative of the journey to New Orleans, is published.
1974 – Payne Hollow, describing the Hubbards’ lives on the fringe of society in Trimble County, Ky., is published. Hanover, Ind., artist Paul Hassfurder meets the Hubbards as they are checking out books at the Hanover College library.
1978 – During a severe winter snow, Hassfurder and a friend help gather and cut wood for the Hubbards, beginning a close relationship that would last until Harlan’s death.
1983 – Hubbard is bitten by a copperhead snake at age 83 and taken to Kings’ Daughters Hospital in Madison, Ind. While there, doctors discover signs of cancer. By 1985, he being treated regularly for cancer. The couple moves temporarily into a house near Hanover Beach to be closer to the hospital.
1985 – Because of their advancing years, the Hubbards ask Hassfurder to help out with the chores more often. He becomes a regular visitor.
1986 – Anna Hubbard dies on May 3. Her body is cremated and, a month later after relatives arrive, her ashes are buried during a short ceremony on the hill below the house. Hubbard resumes his journal writing after Anna’s death and continues until Nov. 1987, a few weeks from his own death.
1987 – Harlan Hubbard Journals, 1929-1944 is published.
1988 – Harlan Hubbard dies on Jan. 16 of prostrate cancer while staying in the home of Dr. Robert Canida, a dentist in Madison, Ind. Hubbard had spent his last two months there in a room with a view of the Ohio River. Hubbard’s body is cremated and buried alongside his wife in Payne Hollow. After a 3 1/2-year contesting of Hubbard’s will, William Caddell, director of the Frankfort (Ind.) Public Library, inherits Hubbard’s artwork. A Hanover College graduate, Caddell met the Hubbards as a student in the 1960s and continues to show and promote Hubbard's artwork. Hassfurder inherits the 61-acre Payne Hollow. Two days after Hubbard’s death, Hassfurder moves into the Hubbard house and has lived there ever since.