Our Land, Our Literature
Our Land, Our Literature Home
Search our Site
Environment Regions Contacts and Links About Us  

Kin HubbardFrank McKinney "Kin" Hubbard
(1868 - 1932)

Hoosier Connection: Kin Hubbard was a popular Indiana humorist who wrote and illustrated the "Abe Martin of Brown County" comic, which appeared on the back page of the Indianapolis News and hundreds and other American newspapers for nearly 30 years. He also collected his sayings into yearly almanacs and other books.

Works Discussed: Abe Martin's Almanack (1921); Abe Martin's Primer; Abe Martin’s Wise Cracks; Brown County Folks

On December 27, 1930, the day after Kin Hubbard's death, Will Rogers wrote in the New York Times:

Kin Hubbard is dead. 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, and I am so glad that I didn't wait for him to go to send flowers. I have said it from the stage and in print for twenty years. Just think—only two lines a day, yet he expressed more original philosophy in 'em than all the rest of the paper combined. What a kick Twain and all that gang will get out of Kin. (qtd. in Hawes x)

Frank McKinney “Kin” Hubbard was born September 1, 1868, in Bellefontaine, Ohio. He was the youngest of six children. Hubbard’s father, Thomas Hubbard, owned and operated the only newspaper in Bellefontaine, called the Examiner. Kin Hubbard’s first ambition was to be an entertainer. He enjoyed acting and writing short plays. He was also known to dress the part, wearing capes and derby hats and carrying a cane. In 1891, with the help of a friend who was impressed with the sketches Hubbard included in his letters, Hubbard moved to Indianapolis to work for the Indianapolis News as a staff artist.

Hubbard left the Indianapolis News, due to a disagreement with a new managing editor. He worked for a while at the Cincinnati Tribune, the Mansfield, Ohio, News, and his father’s newspaper. In 1899, the Indianapolis Sun offered him a job as a caricaturist. He took the job and moved back to Indianapolis. At the Sun, Hubbard gained experience and a reputation for his skills as a cartoonist, and in 1901, the Indianapolis News again offered him a job, this time as a political cartoonist. He accepted and would work at the Indianapolis News for the rest of his career. He is most famous for his work drawing and giving a voice to Abe Martin and friends, which appeared in the Indianapolis News.

Hubbard produced one drawing and two unrelated sentences of wisdom every day for the duration of the Abe Martin series. He also wrote weekly essays called Short Furrows, which were included in his many volumes of humor along with the drawings and one-sentence wisdoms published in the paper. He would publish a book whenever he decided he had collected enough Abe Martin sayings to constitute a volume.

Abe Martin was a kind of poor-man’s philosopher and clown. Generally depicted as a loafer, Abe was by all appearances a simple “country bumpkin.” His one-line wisdoms, however, proved that he spent most of the time that he wasn’t working (apparently all of it) thinking up smart coincidences and musings. Hubbard said in Fred C. Kelly’s biography that the reason he chose Brown County as the setting for Abe Martin’s adventures was that Brown County at the time he first began writing the Abe Martin series was one of the most inaccessible places in the state. All of the roads were old clay, the inhabitants were few and far between, and the general state of the place was uncultivated.

Even before Hubbard's death, his legacy was being planned. The state of Indiana acquired 13,000 acres of land in the heart of Hubbard's favorite setting. Brown County State Park was dedicated in May, 1932, on what is now known as Kin Hubbard Ridge. In the heart of the park is Abe Martin's Lodge, surrounded by 20 guest cabins all named for Kin's better-known characters.

Kin Hubbard loosely attached his name to everything he wrote. Although his name was on the cover, he would assign authorship for his Short Furrows to the characters he made up. This allowed him to write with many different pseudonyms, and several of them did enjoy describing their natural environment and the creatures in it.

In one such Short Furrow, “Nature Fakirs,” Hubbard wrote as fictitious ornithologist Wilbur Purviance and described the interactions of several birds native to Indiana. He gave the birds human attributes and described their actions with human motivations:

I've known crows t' have three or four wives in a season, an' kingfishers are notorious Mormons, an' poor providers. I used t' know a kingfisher that et ever'thing he caught, an' his mate had t' neglect her family t' git food. Robins are th' best home makers, an' I've known young robins t' hang around ther folks till frost, an' never turn a hand toward feedin' 'emselves. Yes, robins is th' most indulgent parents of all birds. I've seen a mother robin lead a youngster right up t' a worm an' point it out, but, in spite o' all she could do, she finally had t' pick it up fer th' youngster an' hand it t' him. Young robins will not work till they jest have to. We're all given t' thinkin' th' home life o' wrens is ideal, an' we often speak o' some married acquaintances as livin' t'gether like two wrens. I've watched wrens by th' month an' ther mean, little, underhanded sneaks as a rule. (Wise Cracks, n.p.) (Read full text.)

In another Short Furrow, “Farmin’,” Hubbard writes as Young Lafe Bud, who sarcastically describes the decrease in the difficulty of maintaining a farm:

Th' exodus from th' fields t' th' cities is doin' much t' cut down th' operatin' expenses o' th' farms. Agriculture, unlike other professions, will never be overcrowded on account o' th' plowin', an' those who are left behind will eventually enjoy a monopoly o' th' food producin' business o' th' country. (Primer, n.p.) (Read full text.)

As Ex-Editur Cale Fluhart, Hubbard described in another Short Furrow, “Th’ First Robin,” how the aforementioned bird is the first true sign that spring has arrived, and furthermore finds this arrangement to be uncharacteristic of the bird:

Nature, in spite o' her celebrated reputation fer lookin' out fer ever'buddy, seems t' have given th' robin th' worst of it. Unequipped fer anything colder than 30 above, he's more frequently th' forecaster of a blizzard than th' dandelion. Unagressive an' meek, he'd sooner starve than question th' priority o' th' English sparrow. Th' only thing a robin'll attack is th' blind, helpless, squirmin' angle worm. Yit nature sends him north a full four weeks before the angle worm is available. Utterly lackin' in th' instinct t' keep away from his natural enemies he invariably selects a buildin' site within easy reach o' the family cat, or in th' roof gutter, where he an' his family fall an easy prey t' th' April freshet. (Primer, n.p.) (Read full text.)

Writing as Miss Fawn Lippincut, Hubbard included in his “Brown County Folks” a short story titled “The Lost Heiress of Red Stone Hall.” At the beginning of each chapter, Hubbard used the changing season to set the mood for the ensuing action:

It is now yellow October, no longer divide from summer by the plumsy sheaf and lingering flowers.
There is a rich, hectic flush on the woodland and every wind that blows pales the crimson hue or scatters its beauty on the empty air, for everywhere around us leaves are falling. In the orchard a few apples hang and the elders still nod under the weight of purple berries. As evening approaches the landscape seems to assume a sober hue and the call of the cow falls on the ear with a sad sound and produces a low feeling which we are seldom sensible of at the change of any other season of the year. Everything is decaying to produce the life and beauty of a coming spring. (Folks, n.p.) (Read full text.)

Again personifying nature, Hubbard used the pseudonym Mrs. Em Moots to describe the hollyhock, a flowering plant common to Indiana, in the Short Furrow titled “Th’ Hollyhock”:

Perhaps th' fact that th' hollyhock throws forth no fragrance accounts fer its unpopularity among th' high brows, but how about th' other garden flowers, th' marigolds, that are cultivated an' bugged an' watered an' coddled? They smell fierce. We love th' hollyhock. We admire its independance an' its friendliness an' its disposition t' make th' best o' things. (Almanack 1921, n.p.) (Read full text.)

Hubbard’s musings on the environment are spread thin through his body of work. When he does speak of it, though, he shows a keen eye for observing details and human qualities. His humorous outlook and ability to joke and broach serious topics at the same time gained him many loyal readers. His legacy in the Brown County and Indianapolis areas as well as in the United States at large, is evident in the fondness many authors and entertainers use to describe him.



Hubbard, Frank McKinney. Abe Martin’s Almanack, by Kin Hubbard. The Comments, Philosophy an’ Essays of Abe Martin an’ His Neighbors. Indianapolis: 1921.

Hubbard, Frank McKinney. Abe Martin’s Primer; the Collected Writings of Abe Martin and His Brown County, Indiana, Neighbors, by Kin Hubbard. Indianapolis, Abe Martin Publishing Company, 1914.

Hubbard, Frank McKinney. Abe Martin’s Wise Cracks, by Kin Hubbard. Indianapolis: Abe Martin Publishing Company, 1927.

Hubbard, Frank McKinney. Brown County Folks, by Kin Hubbard; Being a Full Year’s Review of the Sayings and Doings of Abe Martin and His Brown County, Indiana, Neighbors, Including a Stirring Tale by Miss Fawn Lippincut Entitled the Lost Heiress of Red Stone Hall. Indianapolis: Abe Martin Publshing Company, 1910.

Kelly, Fred C. Kin Hubbard; Creator of Abe Martin. New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1952.

Hawes, David S., ed. The Best of Kin Hubbard. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984.


“Kin Hubbard.” Kelly, Fred C. Kin Hubbard; Creator of Abe Martin. New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1952.


Brown County State Park: Abe Martin History