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Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard

Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard was an insurance underwriter and land speculator. Born on August 22, 1802, in Windsor, Vermont, Hubbard first arrived in Chicago on October 1, 1818. At the time, Hubbard wrote, the area was "Four and a half houses, a fort and a Potawatomi town." Beginning as a French voyageur, he would become a friend to the Indians, an adopted son of Chief Waba of the Kickapoo, husband to Watseka, niece of Chief Tamin of the Kankakees, Chicago's first insurance underwriter, the builder of Chicago's first stockyard, a financier and land speculator.

The Indians called Hubbard "Pa-pa-ma-ta-be", which translates as "Swift-walker." He got this name after walking 75 miles in a single day to bring settlers in Danville back to Chicago to help fight off an Indian raid. When a local Indian tribe questioned his ability to perform this feat, he challenged their champion walker to a race. Hubbard's challenger lost by several miles and was unable to move the next day. Hubbard seemed to be unaffected.

The first winter Hubbard worked as a meatpacker was so cold, he was able to store the pig carcasses on the banks of the Chicago River without worrying about them spoiling. He later built the largest warehouse in the Midwest to house his meatpacking facilities.

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 nearly bankrupted him, but Hubbard eventually paid all the insurance claims his company was liable for.

Today, Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard is virtually unknown in Chicago, his name mostly associated with "Hubbard's Cave", an area where the Kennedy Expressway passes under a series of streets, beginning with Hubbard Street. Writing in 1881, A.T. Andreas stated that "only [Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard] became identified with the modern commerce and trade of the city, who had been connected with the rude Indian traffic which centered in Chicago in the earlier times."