Hubbell, Mark Sibley - Erie County

MARK SIBLEY HUBBELL, editor and proprietor of “Truth," newspaper man, lawyer and litterateur, is a unique personality, and has had a varied and most interesting career. Many men make a success of journalism. Few men leave on it the unmistakable stamp of an individuality. Mark S. Hubbell is one of the few. He has been identified in many capacities with the newspaper world, but whether he has worked for himself or for other people, his work has always borne the indubitable mark of an original mind. In some respects it does not seem amiss to call Mr. Hubbell the Voltaire of Buffalo. He is Voltairean in his wit and incisiveness. He is Voltairean in his fearlessness and his hatred of shams. But he differs from Voltaire in being a builder up instead of a puller down. He has preserved his faith in men and things. The superstructure of his humor and satire is built on the foundation of a healthy optimism. In journalism Mr. Hubbell occupies a field wholly his own. His paper is run by nobody but himself. “Truth " is an independent newspaper if there ever was one. As its editor, Mr. Hubbell has done a monumental work in righting wrongs and exposing abuses. He has done a work no less important in leavening the intellectual life of the community. He is a man who gives zest and sparkle to the dull commonplace of everyday. He is also a man who stands for high ideals in morals, journalism and literature.

Mr. Hubbell was born in Buffalo on the 5th of February, 1857. His father, John Hubbell, was for many years a prominent lawyer and citizen of that community, was for twenty years general counsel of the Western Transportation Company, and served as City Attorney in 1854 and 1855. Mark S. Hubbell's education was begun in the public schools of Buffalo and was completed at the military academies at Montrose and Newark, N. J. Like his brothers he was destined for the legal profession, and when seventeen years old entered the law office of Bangs, Sedgwick & North of New York City. In 1878 he was admitted to the bar. For about a year he practiced law in Buffalo. But his native bent toward literature and journalism was too strong to be turned aside by the attractions of his profession. He engaged actively in newspaper life, his first work being done for the Buffalo Morning Express. He then went to New York, where he was employed as a writer for the New York Times, World and Telegram. His experience in metropolitan journalism covered a period of four years. In 1881 he made a tour of the world, via Australia and the Orient. To Mr. Hubbell this was a time fruitful of intellectual enrichment. All that he witnessed found lodgment in a keen and receptive mind, and much of Mr. Hubbell's cosmopolitanism - the " savoir faire " of the true citizen of the world - is due to his extensive travels. While abroad he perfected his knowledge of the leading Continental languages, particularly of French, of which he is a master.

Returning to Buffalo, Mr. Hubbell served for some time in an editorial capacity on the Buffalo Courier. Later he was managing editor of the Buffalo Times for two years, and was for six years a member of the staff of the News. This part of his career was a period of steady increase of his reputation both as a practical newspaper man and a brilliant writer.

Mr. Hubbell is a Republican. He is a staunch adherent of the fundamental principles of his party, but has always reserved the right of independent opinion, and as to municipal issues regards fitness rather than party lines as the determining factor. He was elected City Clerk in 1894, and was reelected three times. He was a popular and efficient city official. He did much to systematize the workings of his department, perfected the methods of keeping records, and won the hearty commendation of the press, the Common Council and the public.

He compiled the best manual of the city government ever published, and prepared a valuable annotated edition of the Charter and Ordinances.

On retiring from office Mr. Hubbell engaged again in newspaper work. His contributions as a special writer to the Times attracted wide attention and were among the leading features of that paper. Under the nom de plume of "Jan Schimmelpenninck," he conducted a column which was one of the most famous that ever appeared in Buffalo journalism, abounding in sparkling wit, quaint humor, vivid word-painting and shrewd practical suggestions. Later, for a year or two, he furnished a, similar column to the editorial page of the Buffalo Enquirer.

In 1903 Mr. Hubbell established the now well-known weekly paper “Truth." Its inauguration marked a new departure in Buffalo journalism. “Truth " followed no precedent, was patterned after no model, and won its way to the front by sheer merit of a unique kind. It went straight to the hearts of the people and demonstrated the nature of “independent journalism " as a fact instead of a name. A paper for the masses, it also had the literary and intellectual tone that appeals to the thinking public. From the hour of its first issue “Truth " has steadfastly confirmed its original prestige of honor and courage. It has nobly justified its bold motto: "The Paper that Dares." But its daring has never degenerated to license. “Truth " is signally a journal clean-cut, bright and pure. Its championship of honesty and a square deal, its contempt for the arts of the demagogue and the knave are equally outspoken. Mr. Hubbell and his paper are the friends of the weak and the oppressed. Through the columns of “Truth " many a private wrong has been redressed, many a covert public menace has been dragged from its lurking ambush to the light of day. The paper is the tangible expression of the individuality which controls it, and through its lively and up-to-date columns breathes not a little of the aroma of belles lettres - the charm of the scholar and literateur. "Truth" has constantly increased in circulation and advertising patronage. It is today, one of the assured and brilliant successes of the latter-day journalism of Western New York.

Mr. Hubbell is widely known in social life and is identified with many of the societies and institutions of Buffalo. He is a Mason, being affiliated with Ancient Landmarks Lodge, No. 441, F. & A. M. He belongs to the Buffalo Historical Society, the Orpheus Society, the Buffalo Republican League, the Society of Natural Sciences, the Press Club, and the Ellicott Club.

On the 3d of January, 1883, Mr. Hubbell married Mrs. Elizabeth J. Oliver of Buffalo.

SOURCE: Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York; Volume I