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From the Fireman’s Fund Record, October 1947.

In salute to the oldest existing agency representing Fireman’s Fund, our gaze turns toward the enchanted islands of Hawaii where the Bishop Insurance Agency, Ltd. has represented the company in Honolulu since1872.

To tell the story of the company’s first seventy-five year agency we must go back to February 23, 1846, when Charles Reed Bishop, a young New Yorker, set forth from Newburyport, Massachusetts, as a passenger on the Yankee brigantine Henry for the territory of Oregon. After a very stormy voyage around the Horn the vessel put in at Honolulu. Whether it was the serenity and beauty of the tropics or the rigors of sea travel, the young adventurer decided to stay in Honolulu until the spring.

Spring came and went, and young Bishop remained to become one of the most influential figures in the island’s history.

Four years after he landed, Bishop married Princess Bernice Pauahi Paki, a descendant of King Kamehameha I, who had united the islands under one rule in 1791. During the reign of Kamehameha V, Bishop was the king’s adviser, and on the king’s death the throne was offered to Mrs. Bishop, but she declined. Bishop, however, was appointed head of the new monarch’s cabinet.

Bishop’s commercial operations were, meanwhile, growing in scope and importance. In 1853 in partnership with William A. Aldrich he entered the general merchandise business, and five years later these partners launched a banking business under the name of Bishop & Company which has grown over the years to an institution with deposits exceeding $250,000,000.

When the Bishop bank was founded, there was no standard currency in the islands. American, English, French, Mexican and Spanish money was used, and a crude trade was carried on by the exchange of merchandise for sandalwood and other products.

Honolulu was a well settled and flourishing community long before the discovery of gold in California led to the establishment of permanent settlements on the west coast of the mainland; so it is not surprising that San Francisco from its earliest days has been closely related to Honolulu. Thus, when it became apparent to the Bishop bank that the whaling activities, for which Honolulu was headquarters, offered rich opportunities for the writing of marine insurance and other coverages, the bank turned to San Francisco, and in 1858 took on the agency of the Pacific Insurance Company, a San Francisco concern. The Pacific did not survive the Chicago fire of 1871 and Thomas C. Grant, who had adjusted losses for the Pacific in the Chicago conflagration, joined Fireman’s Fund as general agent. One of the first things Grant did was to visit Honolulu and arrange for Bishop & Company to represent Fireman’s Fund.

In 1894, ten years after the death of his wife, Charles Reed Bishop retired and moved to San Francisco; he became a director of Fireman’s Fund, serving in that capacity until his death in 1915.

Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, having observed its 84th anniversary in May of this year, naturally had a thriving agency plant prior to entering the Bishop office in 1872. However, the passage of three quarters of a century has brought with it inevitable changes; accordingly, the Bishop Insurance Agency, Ltd., stands today as the first organization to represent Fireman’s Fund for seventy-five continuous years—three quarters of a century of unbroken and friendly co-operation, to which President James F. Crafts and Vice-President Fred H. Merrill will give expression this month when they make an official call on the officers of the Bishop organization, and on Ralph C. Scott, president of the agency, who has been its manager since 1928 and who has occupied a prominent place in the island’s insurance picture for the past thirty years.

[Fireman’s Fund Archives: 4-1-3-4-60; 0411]


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