Robert Morris Hubbard was born in 1830 in Charlestown, New Hampshire. He was a son of Jenison J. Hubbard (1793–1874), a prosperous farmer, and Eliza Fitch (1800–1883). He died in 1918 at home at 5280 Westminster Place, St. Louis.

Robert moved to St. Louis about 1850 and at first had a series of jobs in banking and trading companies. Robert married Sarah Blunt Ross (1831–1879) in St. Louis in 1858. She was the daughter of John T. Ross (1774–1848) and Eliza Hardy (1800–1865). This family moved to St. Louis from Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1838. Sarah was born in Newburyport in 1831. She died at home in St. Louis in 1879.

The extended Hubbard family spent the Civil War years in New Haven, Missouri. Robert found employment with a steamboat company and farmed, but he did not volunteer, nor was he drafted, for military service. The family returned to St. Louis by 1869, where Robert worked for a commission merchant.

In 1881, Robert married Mary Woart (Ross) Gilbert (1840–1936). A younger sister of his first wife, Mary was born in St. Charles, Missouri, and died in St. Louis. She was married first, and briefly, to Dr. H. F. Gilbert (c.1832–c.1869), a physician. In her later years, Mary was an active volunteer and a board member of the South Side Day Nursery.

Robert and Sarah were parents of Henry Fitch Hubbard (1859–1903) and Eliza Ross Hubbard (1862–1890). Robert and Mary had one child, Ross Hubbard (1882–1883).

In 1882, Robert started Hubbard & Bartlett, commission merchants and grain traders, and his fortunes began to rise. In 1884, the Hubbards moved to 34 Benton Place, a prestigious address. He assumed leadership roles with the St. Louis Merchants’ Exchange and became a member of the board of directors; he eventually built a handsome home on Westminster Place and built a summer home in Harpswell, Maine. His reputation, however, suffered a setback when he became embroiled in a serious real-estate fraud perpetrated by his brother-in-law, William C. Bragg (1845–1895). Robert was quickly exonerated, but Bragg was convicted; a fatal brain condition kept him from serving a prison sentence.

Robert Hubbard, 1914
Robert Hubbard in 1914
Photo in the collection of McKelden Smith
Used with permission

Robert was an active Mason, a vestryman at Mt. Carmel Episcopal Church, and a member of the Union Club, the St. Louis Club, the Glen Echo Golf Club, the Normandie Golf Club, the Society of Colonial Wars, the New England Society of St. Louis, and the Sons of the Revolution. Through his mother, he had two lines of Mayflower descent. The couple traveled widely in the United States and abroad. Their activities were extensively covered in St. Louis newspapers.

Robert outlived both his children and their spouses, all of whom died prematurely. His second wife, however, outlived him by eighteen years. In her last year, when Mary was suffering from dementia, two of his grandchildren sued her guardians for mismanaging her estate. They later unsuccessfully contested her will, which they thought inappropriately favored a niece, ironically a daughter of William C. Bragg.

The Hubbard and Ross families are all buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery. The surviving family members scattered far and wide. None remained in St. Louis.

Written by McKelden Smith
March 2022

© 2022, St. Louis Genealogical Society

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