Historical marker #2596 marks the location of the Austin Hubbard (Narcissa) House, which was bequeathed by Austin Hubbard, a white farmer from Nelson County, to his daughter Narcissa, a mixed-race person Dr. William Elliott enslaved.
Austin Hubbard owned the brick house until the time of his death in 1823. Before he died, Hubbard willed his entire estate, which included this house, to his daughter Narcissa. However, he knew if she was to inherit what was left to her in his will, she would need to be emancipated first. In Hubbard’s will, he stipulated: “…all my property, both real and personal, with which it hath pleased God to help me, also, my goods, chattels & of every description, I give and bequeath to Narcissa, a mulatto girl, which I have raised, provided that her master or mistress, owner or proprietor, will let her go at a moderate price…” If the estate did not go to Narcissa, it would go to Hubbard’s cousin.
On October 10, 1831, Narcissa’s freedom was purchased for $350 by Peter Sweets and Thomas Wathen. The condition of her manumission, however, was her relinquishment of all property to Sweets and Wathen left to her by Austin Hubbard. The estate’s value was fraudulently misrepresented by Sweets and Wathen at the time of Narcissa’s emancipation. The misrepresentation of the value of the estate set off 11 years of legal battles on Narcissa’s behalf to reclaim the property taken from her after she was intentionally misled by Sweets and Wathen. Bardstown residents John McIsaac and Nathaniel Wickliffe became her executors, trustees and champions for her cause. Wickliffe was a prosperous county lawyer and a modestly successful politician. There is limited narrative evidence on McIsaac.
Narcissa hoped for a rescission of her relinquishment of her estate because she had been deceived. In Narcissa’s will, recorded in 1835, she stated that if her case prevailed in the court system, she would use the proceeds recovered from the estate “…for the purpose of purchasing and emancipating my two children, Henry Hubbard & Austin Hubbard now owned by…Dr. William Elliott.” Narcissa’s children were still enslaved at the time of her will because they were born while she was still enslaved by Dr. Elliott.
In the midst of the legal entanglements, Narcissa passed away. However, McIsaac and Wickliffe continued to persevere on behalf of Narcissa. In 1842 the Court of Appeals ruled in Narcissa’s favor to possess and sell the property at, what is currently, 213 East Stephen Foster Avenue. McIsaac and Wickliffe also ensured Narcissa’s wishes for the use of the proceeds were carried out. The house was sold in 1843 to Joseph McQueen and Narcissa’s son, Austin Hubbard, was freed in 1848 at the age of nineteen. Unfortunately, there is no record of Henry Hubbard being emancipated.
Austin Hubbard (Narcissa) House
Austin Hubbard owned this house
until his death in 1823. He left
the house to his reputed daughter
Narcissa, enslaved by Dr. William
Elliott. Hubbard wanted her to
inherit his estate, but knew that
she needed to be emancipated
first. Her freedom was purchased
by Peter Sweets and Thomas Wathan
for $350 in 1831 and Narcissa had
to release the property to them.
Austin Hubbard (Narcissa) House
The estate’s value had been
misrepresented to Narcissa at the
time of her emancipation. 11 years
of legal battles ensued over the
estate. In her will, Narcissa
expressed hope that proceeds from
the estate could free her enslaved
sons. Her executors persevered &
in 1842 the courts ruled in her
favor. The house sold in 1843 and
her son Austin was freed in 1848.
This marker was dedicated on October 2, 2019.