Title: The Autobiography of Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard: Pa-Pa-Ma-Ta-Be, “The Swift Walker” by Gurdon Hubbard
Location: Google Books Date: 1911
PROBABLY no one life presented so many of the phases of Chicago’s life-drama as did that of Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard. The brief autobiography here reprinted deals with the earlier years only. It remains for us to round out the picture by a swift review of the later scenes, and to try to so adjust the focus that we may see the picture as a whole and realize its relation to our own lives. Born in Vermont, a descendant of the Connecticut colonial governor, Gurdon Saltonstall, who was great-grandson of Sir Richard Saltonstall, Gurdon Hubbard bore, so far as ancestry is able to imprint it, the stamp of the metal from which America has been molded. But there was something else about Gurdon Hubbard than that which can be accounted for by ancestry.
Leaving his adopted home in the Canadian wilderness at the age of sixteen, to descend with the voyageurs of the American Fur Company through the waters traversed only a trifle over a century before by the explorers La Salle and Tonty, intimate as a brother with the Indians, and yet able to defend the whites from their treachery, possessed of the strength and skill of the former, with the diplomacy and aplomb of the latter, swift of foot, huge of stature, Hubbard seems as he looms up in history like the survivor of some former race, —a giant whose youthful adventures might have been passed on by tradition, as of a being more than human. Something he undoubtedly imbibed from the Indians, which, added to his own firm fiber, made him the hero that he was in the estimation of his contemporaries, and rendered him, in a very true sense, a representative American. That he was able to adapt himself to civilization, and to infuse into others something of the fire which burned within him, is in large part, we believe, the secret of much of Chicago’s extraordinary advance. If we have moved at a rapid pace, it is perhaps because that pace was set by Pa-pa-ma-ta-be, “The Swift Walker.”