William Hubbard was an abolitionist and operator of a stop on the Underground Railroad in the years before the American Civil War. He was born in 1787. Hubbard spent his youth principally in Connecticut and New York. He attained the rank of colonel in the War of 1812. In 1834, Hubbard and his family moved to Ashtabula, Ohio, from Holland Patent, New York, to assist several relatives in their lumbering and warehouse businesses. Upon reaching Ohio, Hubbard initially worked as a land agent for his uncle, Nehemiah Hubbard, Jr., one of the original founders of the Connecticut Land Company. Nehemiah Hubbard owned approximately fifty-eight thousand acres of land in the area, and he hoped that his nephew would be able to find buyers for the property.
William Hubbard also was a devoted abolitionist. Upon arriving in Ashtabula, he joined the Ashtabula County Anti-Slavery Society. His two brothers were already members of this organization. Around 1840, Hubbard built a house in Ashtabula. Hubbard's new home became an important stop on the Underground Railroad in Ohio. Located near Lake Erie, Hubbard's home was commonly the last stop for runaway slaves before they gained their freedom by escaping to Canada. Hubbard hid the fugitives both in his basement and in his hayloft.
Runaway slaves and conductors on the Underground Railroad referred to Hubbard's home as "Mother Hubbard's Cupboard" and as "The Great Emporium." From surviving records, it appears that all of the African Americans assisted by Hubbard managed to escape to Canada successfully. It is unclear how many slaves Hubbard helped gain their freedom, but surviving records suggest that he housed thirty-nine slaves on one occasion. Hubbard remained active in the abolitionist movement until his death in 1863. Today, the Hubbard House is listed on National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public as a museum.