FFA HISTORY IN HAWAII GOES BACK TO 1872|
From The Visiting Fireman News, Vol. 1, No. 16, Pages 4-5, August 14, 1967.
Fireman's Fund American now has 55 branch offices, all of which operate as autonomous units, bringing the Company closer to the source of its business where ever it originates. As in the other 54 branches, the Hawaiian branch provides complete underwriting, engineering, auditing, and claims services. In effect, it is a small company within a large company, staffed by people who are responsive to local needs and who have the authority to make decisions and provide all services required on a day-to-day basis.
Fireman's Fund American is currently the third largest property-casualty underwriter in the 50th state, with 5.85 per cent of the total $86.5 million multiple-line insurance market. It is among the top three groups in the state's Fire and Extended Coverage, Inland Marine, Homeowners, Automobile, Burglary, and Ocean Marine lines. The acquiring of the Amfac property-casualty business considerably strengthened the long and close relationship Fireman's Fund has had with the Hawaiian community.
Fireman's Fund and the kingdom, the territory, and now the state of Hawaii have carried on an affair for more years than anyone living can recall.
It began in 1872 when the Company hired Tom Grant, who was at liberty after the Chicago fire had closed the doors of the then mighty, long-frogotten [sic] Pacific Insurance Company. Grant wrote to Bishop & Company of Honolulu, the Pacific's old agency, to see if they would agree to represent the Fireman's Fund. They did, and the two companies have worked together since.
Charles R. Bishop enjoyed a longer, richer life than is given to most. In 1846, at the age of twenty-four, Bishop sailed from Massachusetts round the Horn bound for Oregon. Two years before, the Democrats had elected James Polk with the rallying cry "Fifty-four forty, or fight!" Oregon was destined to become part of the Union, but this wasn't certain when young Bishop left home. It might make quite a story had Bishop taken part in the winning of the Northwest, he never got there. Tired after a rough voyage, he laid over in Honolulu and the beauty of the islands held him. Bishop was to spend the next forty-eight years in Hawaii building a great banking company and serving as adviser to five Hawaiian kings.
In 1850, he married the striking twenty-year-old Princess Bernice Pauahi Paki, a descendant of Kamehameha I. In 1872, following the death of Kamehameha V, the Princess was offered the throne, but she declined, thereby ending the fabled dynasty. She died in 1884, and in her memory Bishop founded the internationally known Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum.
The monarchy fell for good in 1894 when Queen Lihuokalani refused to grant general amnesty to those who had earlier deposed her. Bishop sold his Hawaiian interests that year and moved to Berkeley. Active in the Bank of California until his death, he also served as a director of the Fireman's Fund from 1900 to 1915.
Back in 1876, William Dutton, then almost thirty took his first trip to the took his first trip to the [sic] islands. His health, was poor when he left, and by the time the eighteen-day voyage ended he was almost dead from seasickness. A few days after he arrived he regained his shore legs and was presented with a horse and a letter of introduction from the house of Bishop & Company.
"I was down there," he recalled, "for three or four months, and during that whole time I never had a chance to spend a cent except for the dimes and quarters that I paid the natives for holding my horse. Everywhere I went I presented a letter from Bishop & Company, and I had entree to everything. . ."
Although he spent most of his time developing marine business for the Fireman's Fund, he found time to make the first fire insurance map of Honolulu and form the first board of fire underwriters. His map was later adopted by the Sanborn Map Company. The Sanborn maps, incidentally, were to fire underwriters what the Bible is to the clergy.
Fireman's Fund has thus played an active role in the Hawaiian economy for nearly 100 years. Chairman of the Board Fred H. Merrill, was an officer of the Hawaiian Trust Company in Honolulu before joining Fireman's Fund in 1944.
[Fireman's Fund Archives: 4-1-3-5-28; 1334.]
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