Heritage Server > Our People > George D. Dornin


"George D. Dornin was born in New York City on December 30, 1830. With the announcement of the discovery of gold in California, his adventurous spirit responded to the cry of Westward Ho, and he joined a band of Argonauts bound for our golden shores, made the long journey around Cape Horn on a ship called the Panama, and entered the Golden Gate in August 1849.

"He arrived with a double gun, Allen pepper box, and a bowie knife. Shortly after arrival, he sold the gun for $35, threw away the Allen revolvers as too dangerous to the shooter, and degraded the bowie knife to the base uses of cutting steak. He also brought a Bible, which he intended to read through but didn’t get past Exodus, and his mother’s daguerreotype.

"Though then but a boy in years, being still in his teens, he commenced manfully the struggle for life, and before he had reached his majority was engaged in business for himself in the city.

"A victim of the conflagration of 1851, he struck out for the interior, and located at North San Juan, where his integrity and ability soon earned him the confidence and esteem of his neighbors, who twice elected him to the state legislature. He was also appointed postmaster while in North San Juan. It was here that he met and married Sarah Baldwin of Medford, Massachusetts, in 1853.

"His activities there were various, one being that of a pioneer fire insurance agent, in which his intelligent work soon attracted attention at headquarters, and he was in due course invited to San Francisco, to engage in local and special work, a class of employment then in its infancy.

"In 1871 he was appointed general agent of the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. The following winter, in company with President Staples, he settled that company’s Chicago losses, and the next year thereafter represented the company alone in the settlement of its Boston losses.

"In 1873 he was elected Secretary of the Company, resigning in 1881 to become manager of the Lion Fire Insurance Company. To this management he shortly added other prominent companies, but finally reduced his representation to a single company, the Springfield, which he represented at the time of his death.

"Mr. Dornin was ever a prominent factor for good in underwriting councils. In his long and varied experience, he met all the prominent underwriters of the country, and this acquaintance was kept alive by his attractiveness as a correspondent, while his mental activity and clearly expressed ideas made his opinions always welcome.

"A devoted friend and an uncompromising antagonist, he followed the Bible injunction, ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might,’ and was always to be found in the forefront in our professional discussions, championing what he considered the cause of right and justice.

"His active brain has assisted in formulating, and his stalwart support has secured the enactment of many of the most important rules and customs of our profession. He died on July 7, 1907."

Quoted from Fireman’s Fund Archives [04-03-01-001-0066-0814]


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