Hubbard, Oliphant Lockwood (1880–1968)

By: Patricia Prather

Type: Biography

Published: October 31, 2013

Oliphant Lockwood Hubbard, educator, former mayor of Independence Heights, realtor, and insurance agent, was born on June 3, 1880, in Weldon, Walker County, Texas, to Lewis Hubbard and Victoria (Smith) Hubbard. The Hubbards made sure all fourteen children completed school.

In 1909 Hubbard graduated from Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College (now Prairie View A&M University). Two of his brothers followed his footsteps at Prairie View; one became a teacher, the other a dentist. Hubbard married Ella Kyle not long after graduation, and the couple had four children.

In 1911 he became the first teacher and principal of the Independence Heights School, located in a small African-American community a few miles north of downtown Houston. His wife was also a teacher and followed her husband as principal when he began employment with the Houston Independent School District. They were pioneer members of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.

In January 1915 residents of Independence Heights voted to incorporate and elected a mayor and two city council members. City hall was a shotgun house located at 701 East 34th Street. O. L. Hubbard became the second mayor of Independence Heights and was sworn in on June 19, 1919, (Juneteenth), more than fifty years after slavery ended in Texas. Hubbard’s daughter, Vivian Hubbard Seals, was an infant when he served as mayor but began compiling the history of Independence Heights in the 1980s. Through her research, she located the deed showing that her father purchased property from the Wright Land Company in 1911. Seals recalled that her father was “smart and very tough.” During Hubbard’s administration, so many improvements were made in the community that he was paid a “visit” at home by the Ku Klux Klan. However, the visit ended abruptly when Hubbard greeted them with a .30-30 rifle. Independence Heights had a sheriff, deputies, a small jail, and a tax-assessor.

During Hubbard’s administration the city installed a water system, paved the streets with shell, and added sidewalks made of wood planks, as well as electric lights and telephone service. Street car service was nearby on 30th Street. Hubbard served the community of about 700 residents until 1923 when a third mayor was elected.

In addition to teaching, Hubbard was a real estate agent and insurance agent. In 1920 he had an office at the Taborian Building at 600 Prairie and later in the U.B.F. (United Brothers of Friendship) Building at 419 ¼ Milam in downtown Houston. He was listed as one of fourteen African-American real estate agents in 1928 in the booklet A Study of Negroes in Houston.
In 1930 during the oil boom in East Texas, Hubbard moved to Tyler, Texas. As a land title specialist, he helped African-American families prove they had clear title to land so they could sell oil leases. Hubbard’s office in Tyler was located downtown in a building owned by H. M. Morgan, a successful African-American businessman.

By the early 1960s Hubbard had apparently moved back to Houston. O. L. Hubbard died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Houston on February 12, 1968. He was buried in Oak Park Cemetery (now Golden Gate) in Houston.

His daughter, Vivian Hubbard Seals, carried on a family legacy of education and was among some twenty educators in her generation. In the early twenty-first century more than twenty-seven Hubbard descendants worked as educators, medical doctors, attorneys, ministers, and other professionals.

Patricia Smith Prather and Bob Lee, eds., Texas Trailblazers Series (Houston: Texas Trailblazer Preservation Association, 1994). Tyina Leaneice Steptoe, Dixie West: Race, Migration, and the Color Lines in Jim Crow Houston (An Arbor: ProQuest LLC, 2008).

  • Education
  • Educators
  • School Principals and Superintendents
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Business
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Civic Leaders
  • Politics and Government

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Patricia Prather, “Hubbard, Oliphant Lockwood,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 13, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 31, 2013

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