River Way of Life'
Hubbard enthusiasts to gather
at Hanover Colleges Rivers Institute
day conference planned for March 24
HANOVER, Ind. (December 2006) The Rivers Institute
at Hanover College is organizing a one day conference set for March
24, 2007, to celebrate the lives of Harlan and Anna Hubbard and help
educate newcomers to the story of the couple who once lived along the
Ohio River in Trimble County, Ky.
The Hubbards created a sort of utopian world for themselves
during their 40-plus years of living off the land and river. To many,
they represented a model for others who relished such an existence.
Many people still today celebrate the Hubbards through Harlans
writings and journals and through his paintings, many of which he gave
away or sold to some of the lucky visitors whom he deemed worthy of
A third element that attracts people to the Hubbards is their simple
lifestyle of living off the land. They farmed goats, fished the river,
raised a garden and harvested animals and plants from the woods around
their two-room, self-built home, which was constructed on a bluff overlooking
the Ohio River a few miles downriver from Hanover.
Anna Hubbard died of cancer in 1986. Harlan died of prostate cancer
two years later at age 88. The ashes of both are buried on the hillside
below their home, which they made by hand from salvaged materials from
their shantyboat and from items they scavenged from the riverbank and
Hundreds of adults and schoolchildren visited the Hubbards over the
years, and it is those loyalists whom the Rivers Institute hopes to
attract to the conference, said Dennis Wichelns, executive director
of the Rivers Institute.
The target audience for this conference is certainly the people
in the area who knew the Hubbards, but we also want to reach out to
the entire community as well as high school and college students, particularly
Hanover College students, Wichelns said.
He cited the overwhelming response the institute received for a Hubbard
program held in early October designed to kick off the Indiana-Kentucky-Ohio
Writers Roundtable. Author and lecturer Don Wallis, a Madison native
and friend of the Hubbards, was the keynote speaker that evening at
the Jefferson County Historical Society. The response signaled a strong
interest that still exists today 18 years after the Hubbards
Even though it has been many years since the Hubbards passing,
we still see a deep interest in them among the people who live in the
area and around the country, said Shelley Arvin, a Learning Resource
Librarian with the Rivers Institute. She is leading the planning committee
for the conference.
We hope the conference will celebrate the Hubbards legacy
but also help to educate younger people about the Hubbards, since many
may not have ever heard of them, Arvin said.
The committee of 15 people met for the first time on Nov.
11 at Hanover College, so a keynote speaker has not yet been chosen.
The committee plans to organize several break-out meetings throughout
the day of the conference, each one focusing on either some aspect of
the Hubbards themselves or a general topic of demonstrating self-sufficiency
Ticket prices have not yet been set. A dinner and music program is being
considered to conclude the day-long event.
Hanover College held a day-long conference on the Hubbards in 2000 that
attracted 260 people. It featured keynote speaker Wendell Berry, a famed
Port Royal, Ky., author and farmer who has written extensively about
the Hubbards. Hanover College philosophy professor Robert Rosenthal
and Paul Hassfurder, who inherited Payne Hollow from Harlan Hubbard,
played central roles in planning that event and both are serving on
the planning committee for the 2007 event.
Rosenthal also maintains a Friends of the Hubbards mailing
list, to which he sends infrequent newsletters about Hubbard-related
news and events. The professor has led dozens of college student trips
to Payne Hollow over the years as part of his classes.
With a tentative title of River Way of Life, the upcoming
conference is designed to fall into the mission statement of the 3-year-old
The non-profit organization was established in 2003 with a $11.5 million,
five-year Lilly Endowment grant. The institutes stated mission
is to enhance understanding of the culture, economics and science
of river systems around the world.
Wichelns said that by the time the grant expires in 2008, the organization
must become self-sustaining through charitable contributions, program
sponsorships, grants, contracts and continuing education revenue.
This Hubbard conference and others like it help the institute meet its
mission goal of providing community education and cultural programming,
We could fund the entire conference and make it free for everyone,
but that is not our goal; we want to develop corporate and business
partners in staging these cultural events so we can develop a track
record for providing such programming to the community, Wichelns
A paid consultant and a handful of volunteers from Hanover College organized
the 2000 conference.
Now with the professional staff of the Rivers Institute available, organizers
are enthusiastic about pulling off another successful event, complete
with corporate sponsors and a wider marketing outreach.
For more information on the upcoming Hubbard
Conference at Hanover College, contact Shelley Arvin at the Rivers Institute
at (812) 866-6846 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional stories about the conference will be posted on this website
as details become available. To be added to our email list for future
updates about the Hubbards, email: info@RoundAboutMadison.com.
Back to December 2006