Knox Mutual Insurance Co.

From Helderberg Hilltowns of Albany County, NY
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From the Knox Sesquicentennial Booklet (1972)

Knox Mutual Insurance Co.

The valiant pioneers of the Town of Knox did not vision fire fighting with machinery or fire fighting equipment. Instead they were concerned with helping the unfortunate fire victim to reestablish himself. Insurance men in this day and age take a rather dim view of this first attempt for fire protection, but to the early inhabitants of the town it provided aid when needed.

The Knox Mutual Insurance Company was organized in 1858. Tenney and Howell's History gives the following officers for 1884: Ira Van Auken, President; Elias Bassler, Secretary; William Sand, I. D. Haverly, James M. Chesebro, Nicholas Chesebro, Amos Saddlemire, Austin Gifford and Norman 0. Bell.

In 1886 the officers were Charles Gaige, Charles Bunzy (agent), J. .1. Saddlemire, 1ra Saddlemire, M. F. Crounse, Austin Gifford, Charles Seabury, and Norman 0. Bell.

An 1899 issue of the Enterprise states that "from Jan. 13, 1885 to Jan. 14, 1890, the average yearly amount of stock was $379,927 and the average amount of bonds was S15,917." During that period the following fires occurred: E. Stevens, A. Kipp, I. Saddlemire, Wm. Miller, G. J. Williamson, H. Truax and Mrs. Chesebro. The total loss for six years was $3,859.63. The average yearly loss was $643.27. From 1890-1899 the yearly amount of stock was $392, 515 and the yearly amount of bonds was $16,615. with the following fires: J. 0. Neal, E. Chandler, C. L. Seaburg, H. P. Gage, N. Allen, A. & G. Knickem, Swart and Haverly, H. E. Whipple and L. Adams. Total amount of loss for a year period was $7,670. making a yearly average loss of $852.22.

The Secretary, C. W. Schoonmaker wrote a letter to the editor at this time proclaiming "Now, brother stockholders don't say anything detrimental about our glorious old company unless you know it to be true and don't ask an agent of some other company how our company stands for they're not in a position to know."

He further explains the company's financial picture by illustrating "A man that has been insured for $2,000 for nine years has paid on several fires only $37.13 and paying 52.70 for his certificate makes a total of $39.83. One ninth of $39.83 is $4.425 — his yearly payment on 52,000 insured and 1/20th of $54.425 is $0.221." Also at this time, a meeting was held in which the rate in the village was changed from 6% to 4% the same as farm property.

Mr. Charles Beebe reports on the final dissolution of the Company and also some bits of information. He said as far back as he could remember they had the insurance company in Knox. Every member was given an assessment card and each one paid $1.50 for a policy for a three year period. Whenever there was a fire every member was assessed. State inspectors were sent out each year to inspect the books. In the late thirties, Austin Saddlemire, Sr., President, and Charles Beebe, Secretary, found they could not make ends meet due to dwindled membership. They contacted the State Insurance Co. and asked to have the Knox Mutual Co. dissolved. He said state inspectors inspected the books and found that everyone had been paid except the Secretary who received S50 a year. Paying all the members left nothing for the Secretary. The Westerlo people took over the remaining few members in the 1940's and thus ended another of Knox's foresighted citizens endeavors.