Young “Mother Hubbards” Baking Day

If the title of my article has you wondering if I’m going to tell a story, you can rest easy, this isn’t as story. This is actually a baking book. Hubbard Milling, Mankato, MN; seemingly had the genius idea to ride the notoriety coattails of the nursery rhyme “Old Mother Hubbard”. Hubbard Milling Company invented “Mother Hubbard” like Chris L. Rutt invented “Aunt Jemima”. Each company used their iconic character to represent their products and sell, sell, sell.

It was very hard to find any information on the Hubbard Milling Company of Mankota, MN. Sparse would be the word I would choose, and incidentally, I ran into another Hubbard Mill. Forgive me as we take a quick rabbit trail, this was interesting so I thought I would share.

Off on a rabbit trail…

Hubbard Mill washboard

The Hubbard Mill was a sawmill company owned by three brothers Will, John, and Tom. These brothers decided to have a side “gig” going by making and selling washboards. The three brothers also had stakes in the Northwest Timber Company. Some folks just fall into success and money.

These washboards were technologically advanced, having threaded maple rollers that rolled in opposite directions. These opposite moving rollers gave the housewife a great advantage of a lighter touch, less scrubbing toil, and cleaner clothes.

This new washboard creation was made possible by the machine they invented to make the rollers. In effect, they had the market on the machine that made the successful technology of the washboard. Genius!

Their product had the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. The mill made approximately 500 washboards and day. This volume productivity gave them a huge problem- sawdust. So they implored local farmers to haul as much as they wanted away for “free”.

This is the way we wash our clothes

If you were washing clothes, this was “THE” washboard to have. Mother Hubbard Washboard salesman used the following line:

“Good Morning, madam. This is the Mother Hubbard Roller Washboard, the easy way to wash that the world has been looking for. Your old board has friction on a dead, flat surface and it has always been a woman-killer. Ours has a moving surface producing friction by means of 11 wood rollers with right and left screw threads. The motion is easy and produces 451 friction movements at each stroke up or down. Water passes through the threads, carrying the dirt back into the tub. Easier on hands and the clothes last longer.”

According to the “Hubbard Family” website, which you can adventure to here, these washboards “were the hottest selling door-to-door item in the 20th century.” They eventually moved their milling operation to Mendota, WI where it lived out a very lucrative life till technology struck again in 1935 with the invention of the electric washing machine. In case you have some Hubbard blood in you, the rest of the Hubbard clan wants to hear from you. Feel free to drop them a line here.

We now return you to the original purpose of this article

Phew! Back to “Mother Hubbard” with the Hubbard Milling Company of Mankato, MN. As I said, it was hard to find information on this mill, but I did find out that Rensselaer D. Hubbard, was the founder of the Hubbard Milling Company and their beautiful mansion was sold to the Blue Earth County Historical Society. So, if you’re on 1-90 and heading past Blue Earth, MN stop in, that is if they are open… COVID. Need I say more?

Rensselaer, as a young man, tried to enlist as a Union soldier in the civil war. Due to a severe attack of pneumonia, he was deemed unfit for service. From there he began a journey of hit and miss with his entrepreneurial spirit, finally landing with firm financial gain founding the Hubbard Milling Company in 1878, becoming one of Minnesota’s largest flour milling companies.

If you remember, I wrote an article about the book “Tempt Me”, regaling Minnesota’s food history through story and picture. I mentioned that Minnesota was the center of the world for flour production. Rensselaer Hubbard built his wealth in the flour milling business and later expanded into livestock feed, pet food, and specialized feeds. Hubbard Feeds still lives on today as a subsidiary company, bought up by a Canadian group.

Looks like I’ve run out of writing space, so my apologies for leaving you hanging. I promise I will get to Mother Hubbard and Young Mother Hubbard along with some fun “old” recipes and interesting insights, some of them got me laughing! Till next week, here is to good food, good friends and a good life.


About Michele Bruxvoort

Michele Bruxvoort is sure to draw you in with her delightful sense of humor and love for living life.   She enjoys reading, repurposing,  as well as remodeling the family home with her husband. Drawing from her life experience as wife, mom, and follower of Jesus, Michele brings you a very honest and real perspective on life.  When you don't find her writing, you can find her mowing lawns, stocking shelves, taking care of her grandbaby and tackling her latest life adventure. Wisconsin native and empty-nester, she now makes her home with her husband of 27 years in the South West Prairie plains of Minnesota.

View all posts by Michele Bruxvoort

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