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A cartoon drawing of Abe by Kin Hubbard.

It’s been a long time since Abe Martin was as popular, in Indiana and most states, as a man can get. His humor appeared in more than 300 newspapers and he lived in Brown County. His real name was Frank McKinney Hubbard, but his humor was under the name of Kin Hubbard. He was an excellent cartoonist as well as a humorist, His “Abe Martin” character was first published in the Indianapolis News in 1904. In fact, his popular cartoons was on the back page of that paper six day a week for 26 years.

A friend sent a book by Abe and said after reading it maybe I would like to give it to the Decatur County Historical Society Museum. I will do that. Charity and Carrie will know who sent it and others can see it. The title of the book is “Short Furrows” by Abe Martin. Maybe you know who Abe Martin is or, in this case, was. Why furrows? I don’t know or even know if Furrows was used as a noun or verb.

We can get a reasonable idea of what people thought Abe should look like from a 1909 issue of the Rushville Daily Republican. It may just be the best description of him: “Abe Martin has ‘come and went.’ If they expected to see a tall, uncouth, gangling, unsightly, clumsy, homespun, gaunt, rawboned, ill-made, distorted, unshapen, upper-lipless individual , they were disappointed for instead they saw Kim Hubbard, a dapper, clean-cut, typical man-about-town, attired in a college cut blue serge and wearing a flaring red necktie, with his watch chain hanging out of this northeast coat pocket like a race track tout.”

Hubbard was born in Ohio in 1868 and died in Indianapolis in 1930. His wise sayings and cartoons ran in hundreds of newspapers from 1904 to 1930, and after his death in 1930 the Indianapolis News re-ran them until 1980.

Just three years after his cartoons and humor began appearing in the Greensburg News in 1907, a student at Indiana University from Decatur County got the distinction of being called Abe Martin Jr. She was a junior at the time and the author of the Abe Martin, Jr. articles that appeared in the Daily Student, the official paper of the students of the university. That was Mary Baen Wright of Greensburg, who was the first woman to study journalism at Indiana University, the first woman to serve as editor of the university yearbook, and the first woman to serve as editor of the campus newspaper. She was also the first person to start a school in what is now Anchorage, Alaska, where she taught Eskimo children.

Mike Spillman sent the book and said, “Ken Hubbard was a leading proponent of Hick Humor, which was popular at the time.” He said he is pretty sure this book was given to his father, Charley Spillman, around 1934 by the Sandusky school teachers as a Christmas present.

“He was Clinton Township Trustee at the time and paid their salary promptly, in cash, each month,” he said.

Here are some of Abe Martin’s wise sayings in the book:

Th’ postoffice is closed t’day on account o’ th’ postmaster bein’ unavoidable called away on a huntin’ trip. (Note from Pat: That way of spelling is mighty hard on the spellcheck on a computer.)

The safest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket.

It pays t’ be honest, but it don’t pay enough t’ suit some fellers.

Boys will be boys, and so will a lot of middle-aged men.

The only way to entertain some folks is to listen to them.

Decatur County resident Pat Smith may be contacted via this publication at

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