A Narrative History
The People of Iowa
SPECIAL TREATMENT OF THEIR CHIEF ENTERPRISES IN
EDUCATION, RELIGION, VALOR, INDUSTRY,
EDGAR RUBEY HARLAN, LL. B., A. M.
Curator of the
Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa
THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc.
Chicago and New York
FREDERICK M. HUBBELL at the age of ninety had the fortune to see his plans and efforts of more than seventy years come to complete fruition. Mr. HUBBELL as a lawyer, business man and financier has probably been more intimately connected with the projects and enterprises that have made Des Moines a modern city than any other man now living.
Mr. Hubbell, who arrived at Fort Des Moines May 8, 1855, was then sixteen years of age. He was born at Huntington, Fairfield County, Connecticut, January 17, 1839, and was educated in district schools and had three years of high
school work before coming west. On this journey to the Mississippi River Valley he accompanied his father, who was a farmer and stone mason. They traveled by railroad as far as Rock Island, took a steamboat over to Muscatine, and
by stage coach came to Des Moines. The following day Frederick M. Hubbell began employment as clerk in the United States land office under receiver P. M. Casady, at a salary of a hundred dollars a year, and in March, 1856, he
removed to Sioux City, taking a position in the land office there, and later appointed deputy clerk of courts, a special act of the Legislature removing his minority qualification for his position later was passed to assure the legality of his acts. In the meantime he studied law, was admitted to practice April 24, 1858, this also before he had reached his majority, and in the spring of 1860 he became one of the organizers of Sioux County. After five years at Sioux City Mr. Hubbell returned to Des Moines, in 1861, was a clerk in the law office of Casady & Polk, and on January 1, 1862, was admitted to partnership, his seniors in the firm being two other distinguished pioneer Iowans, Phineas M. Casady and Jefferson Scott Polk. Judge Casady retired in 1865, and from that time until January 1, 1887, the firm was Polk & Hubbell. It was a law firm with a large volume of practice, but it was the business and
financial operations of the firm that are of most importance in the history of Des Moines and the state.
Polk & Hubbell supplied not only legal counsel but a great deal of finance and business ability in the development of transportation lines in and out of Des Moines. They promoted the beginning of a street railway system in 1866.
They were large stockholders in the Des Moines & Minnesota Railroad Company when it was constructed from Des Moines to Ames. Later this road was sold to the Chicago & Northwestern. In 1879 they acquired the property and the
assets of the Des Moines, Adel & Western Railroad, which was started in 1871. In January, 1888, Polk & Hubbell sold their interest to the Des Moines & Northwestern Railway Company, which had been organized in 1887, and of which F. M. Hubbell was president, Gen. G. M. Dodge, vice president, and J. S. Polk, secretary and treasurer. Eventually this line became a part of the Chicago & Milwaukee & Saint Paul system.
Mr. Hubbell with Mr. Polk and B. F. Allen incorporated the Des Moines Water Works Company, and secured a franchise in 1871. This company built the water system, and Polk & Hubbell owned and controlled the company for a number of
years, Mr. Hubbell serving as secretary of the company. Mr. Hubbell was also one of the organizers of the Des Moines Union Railway Company and was its first secretary and treasurer.
Mr. Hubbell was the man perhaps primarily responsible for instituting Des Moines as a center in the western insurance world. He helped organize in 1867 the Equitable Life Insurance Company of Iowa, became its first secretary, in
1888 was elected president, and was head of the company until 1907, after which he served as chairman of the Board of Trustees. He is still chairman of the board and is a trustee of the Frederick M. Hubbell estate. Mr. Hubbell has
been a Democrat in politics, and for many years a communicant of Saint Paul's Episcopal Church at Des Moines.
He married Frances Cooper, whose father, Isaac Cooper, was an early day building contractor in Des Moines. Mrs. Hubbell is deceased. There are three children. The sons, F. C. and Grover C., are Des Moines citizens whose careers
are sketched individually elsewhere. The only daughter, Beulah C., is the wife of County Carl A. Wachtmeister, and they live in Paris and have a son, Frederick.
*Check your facts, don't know how accurate.
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