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Butler Digital History

Frank McKinney "Kin" Hubbard

Kin Hubbard drawing of his Abe Martin character for Christmas 1929 in <em>Abe Martin's Town Pump</em>

Frank McKinney “Kin” Hubbard had little formal art training (he attended the Jefferson School of Art in Detroit for a short time) when he joined the staff of the Indianapolis News in 1891. This first stint with the paper lasted just three years. After leaving the News, he worked, among other jobs, as an artist for the Cincinnati Tribune and Mansfield (Ohio) News before returning to Indianapolis for a job with the Indianapolis Sun in 1899. In the fall of 1901 Hubbard once again went to work for the Indianapolis News as an artist; he held the job until his death. His most famous character, rustic philosopher Abe Martin, first appeared on December 17, 1904. Following a syndication deal in 1910, the popular Martin character appeared in newspapers in nearly 200 cities. Will Rogers, writing in a piece for the New York Times following Hubbard’s death, said, “To us folks that attempt to write a little humor his death is just like Edison’s would be to the world of invention. No man in our generation was within a mile of him . . . Just think—only two lines a day, yet he expressed more original philosophy in ’em than all the rest of the paper combined.”

Blanche Stillson, one of the Irwin Library’s greatest benefactors, presented the Gaar Williams/Kin Hubbard Collection to the library in 1964. It includes many original drawings of Abe Martin and other cartoons, books (many of them inscribed and with additional drawings), magazines, letters, photographs, and memorabilia by Hoosier cartoonists and humorists. Several donors have added books, manuscripts, and memorabilia to the collection.

Photograph of the front cover of <em>Abe Martin's Brown County Almanack</em>

A Sampler of Abe Martin’s Observations:

“Who recalls when folks used to git along without somethin’ if it cost too much?”

“The best way t’ fight for your country is t’ stand for peace.”

“A good listener is usually thinkin’ about somethin’ else.”

“It’s what we learn after we think we know it all that counts.”

“Bein’ optimistic after you’ve got ever’thing you want don’t count.”

“Flattery won’t hurt you if you don’t swaller it.”

“Th’only way t’ entertain some folks is t’ listen t’ ’em.”

Frank McKinney "Kin" Hubbard