|COMPANY ADVERTISED FROM FIRST
From the Fireman's Fund Record, May 1919.
AN INTERESTING light is thrown by early San Francisco city directories on the enterprise manifested by the founders of the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company. Those for the year of the company's final establishment and the ensuing year show that it started its career with the use of dignified advertising.
The final organization of the company was perfected May 1st, 1863, and Langley's directory for 1863-64 has the Fireman's Fund advertisement displayed prominently on the back cover. In the directory for 1864-65 the advertisement appears on the front inside cover. In a review of the year's events printed in the directories the company is given prominent mention. That of the earlier year contains a sentence that sounds quaint more than half a century later: "Blank forms of application for insurance may he had on application to the officers of the company.
There is a great deal of information in the directories, however. For instance, the company stressed the fact that it paid all losses in United States gold coin - something worth emphasizing during the Civil War, and indicative of the company's solidity even at its beginning.
There is information to be gleaned about the officers, too. William Holdredge, the first president, lived at 565 Howard Street in those days. Howard street that far down has not been desirable for residence these many decades. S. H. Parker, who succeeded Holdredge, having first been vice-president, was postmaster in 1863.
M. Lynch, who became vice-president on Parker's promotion, was secretary of the San Francisco Fire Department and president of the Board of Education - high honors in that early city that boasted a population of 103,400, "including 9,000 floating population." Lynch was an early prototype of the commuter: he lived out near Mission Dolores. The other officers, Charles R. Bond, secretary and W. H. Patterson, attorney, lived in streets long since given over to trade, and presumably a goodly number of the fifty original directors had their homes a stone's throw more or less from the company's offices. One-fourth of the directors were active or exempt members of the fire department.
The first advertisement, in the directory of 1863-64, displays a seal flanked by the English motto, "Faith, Hope and Charity," and bearing also the Latin, "Pro Aris et Focis." Under the seal is this:
"A Philanthropic Institution." In the following year the advertisement was adorned with a scroll-like hose running from a hydrant.
The advertisements show that the original plan of contributing one-tenth of the net profits to the San Francisco firemen's charitable fund - the purpose was explained in THE RECORD last month - was enlarged to benefit similar funds in other cities before it was dropped entirely.
The directories indicate that there was unusual insurance activity at the time of the company's formation. Several other companies were organized in the same period, but they long ago were forgotten.
[Fireman's Fund Archives: 4-1-3-4-30; 0406.]
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