Hubbard-Wyskiel Farm: A History, Part One

Editor’s Note: It all started with a quest to find a bale of hay. Actually two. After seeing a hand-lettered sign, I pulled over and rang the bell at the farmhouse to meet Stanley and Elizabeth “Betty” Wyskiel. After wondering about the unusual architecture of the home and hearing it had quite a history, (and another stop for more hay), a request for a story was graciously granted. Part one, about the farm. Part two, about an artist and how his chosen path intersects with the farm.

The Hubbard-Wyskiel Farm has deep roots in family history and New England heritage.

Designated a Bicentennial Farm by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Middletown, Connecticut property is where Noadiah Hubbard built his home in 1787. (Yes, 1787.)

The Hubbard family is extensive and a prolific one. To trace and shed light on her own family’s branch of the tree, Elizabeth “Betty” (Hubbard) Wyskiel consults what she calls the “trusty Hubbard history.” Treasured family photos and other volumes line up on the dining room table.

“My sister has kept the family history on her computer,” she noted, and picks up a hand-colored photograph that depicts an older couple holding a cherubic child.

“This is my grandfather, Frank Hubbard, and his wife, Ida Mae Chaffee. I was less than a year old when this was taken,” she said, and turned the frame over to read what is written on the reverse. “Frank and Ida Chaffee Hubbard with granddaughter, Elizabeth May Hubbard (Wyskiel), summer 1933.”

He holds a cigar in one hand, the other steadies the child on the couple’s lap.

“This is a house that no longer exists. It was further up the road, a place my mother and father rented when they first got married. My grandparents were not young and they lived here on the farm. Eventually my parents moved down here to take care of my grandmother; my mother was a nurse.”

Betty is pointing to the picture of the original house that burned.

The original farm land holdings were extensive. About 100 acres was sold to Col. Clarence Wadsworth to create his estate known as Long Hill.

“Colonel Wadsworth was married to a Hubbard who came from the Nathaniel Hubbard side. Our farm was owned originally by Noadiah Hubbard, the two were brothers. (The history of the brother who owned the Hubbard house at the corner of Laurel Grove and Wadsworth Street is listed on What today is Pine Grove Cemetery was originally part of this farm. My grandfather really didn’t want to sell to Col. Wadsworth, so he put up a price he thought could not be matched. And Col. Wadsworth said yes, so he got the land. My grandfather did not tell me what was the price.

“After Grandpa sold that parcel to Wadsworth, he bought a field that went all the way to South Main Street to grow field tobacco. He showed me how to chop the leaves and then how to roll cigars. As he got older and he could not go up and down the stairs anymore, I would make them for him.”

The Hubbard-Wyskiel Bicentennial Farm, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Wyskiels live with history every day, in the distinctive brick farmhouse on about 12 acres of the original site today.

A marble plaque inset in a wall was carved by Frank Hubbard as a house history: Built 1787, Noadiah Hubbard; remodeled, Alfred Hubbard 1840; ruined, Jan. 27 by fire; and rebuilt, 1927 by Frank C. Hubbard, who also etched his initials at the far right to sign the work.

“There’s a root cellar built 100 years after the house,” said Stanley. “1887 is carved in the stone.”

The bunker-like structure is cool and dark, skillfully built of brick in an arch. Outbuildings besides the barn include a chicken coop, a drying coop and a shed barn for the cattle. The windmill (vanes removed) in the lower field pumped the water up to the top of the hill and into the cistern still stands.

“Since the cistern was higher than the house and the barn, the overflow fed water to the house and into the barn for the animals,” he explained.

An artesian well is located close by the home, though it is no longer used.

Coup With A Coupe
Elizabeth “Betty” and Stanley Wyskiel met on a blind date.

“I was supposed to go out with someone else, but he chickened out,” she said.

Stanley recalls sitting inside the K-Club in Rockfall, right across from his home.

“I was just out of the service. A guy walked in and said ‘hey, what are you doing, want to go out on a double date?’ So why not? I had a 1939 four-door Plymouth, and he had a coupe – so we went out.”

“He proposed on New Year’s Eve, he doesn’t remember,” she said.

In time, their family branch grew to three sons, Stephen, Michael and Jim.

Note: More about the farm and an artist drawn to the timeless beauty of it, to be continued in part two.