Paul Stegeman's Hubbard Scrapbook

My visit with Harlan Hubbard
on Thanksgiving Weekend 1987


By Paul Stegeman

My brother, Rick, his oldest son, Brian, and I hiked down to see Harlan that Friday. It was a typical November day in Kentucky; not too cold and overcast.

Rick had visited Harlan several times before, but this was the first time I had met him. Harlan came out to greet us and invited us in to see the house and his studio next door. I asked Harlan if it would be OK to take a few pictures, and he agreed to pose for a few and let me take whatever others I cared to shoot.

The photo of the painting in his studio was probably the last taken of his work while it was in progress.

The copy here was scanned from a black-and-white negative. The copies that I made in the darkroom are much clearer since I was able to burn-in the window exposure for proper detail. The photo of Harlan is lso the last taken before he passed away.

My brother and his son returned a week or so later to visit Harlan and found him lying on the floor. My nephew hiked up to get help from the neighbor up by the road. They ere able to get him out by tractor and then transferred to the ambulance. I don't believe that he ever made it back to the house after that.

I was lucky enough to have Harlan autograph the books, "Shantyboat" and "Payne Hollow," and they are among my prized possessions. I would have liked to spend a lot more time with him, but I am fortunate for the visit that I had.

I've read Thoreau several times, but in my mind, the life that Harlan led was far superior to what Thoreau attempted. Harlan managed to be as self-sufficient as any pioneer to the area had done but with a far more genteel manner and life.