West McLean Insurance


West McLean Insurance Company

As Roseglen celebrated its 50th year in 1967, one of McLean County's pioneer businesses celebrated its 60th anniversary. That business was the West McLean County Farmers Mutual Fire and Lightning Insurance Company, which was organized at a meeting in Garrison on February 19th, 1907.

The incorporators and first board of directors were: S.D. Williams of Emmet, who was the company's first President, William Lohrman of Emmet, who was Vice President, A.J. Hoefert of Emmet, as Secretary, Chris J. Stofferahn of Emmet, Treasurer, John Hegardt of Garrison, Joseph Fitzgerald of Garrison, and Ralph Holt of Emmet.

Of the twenty-seven original policy holders, whose farm buildings were collectively insured for $52,705, none were still alive in 1967, when the Roseglen Golden Jubilee book was published. Those original policies averaged $1,950. Policies in 1967 were ten times as large, at $19,500 each.

Other names on the list of original policy owners, in addition to the directors, were Robert Fitzgerald, L.J. Misslin, A.P. Misslin, Nick Schneider, Joseph Markert, H.H Ahrenstaff, T.L. Wilson, Nick Waherwald, F.T. Hernzer, Johan Thode, Eddie Thomsen, E.N. Yunker, John Rosen, L.J. Hoefert, E. Noks, John Holst, E.H. Tank, W. Wohlman, John Pahl, and Henry Steffen.

The company's articles of incorporation were filed on April 7, 1907, and the first policies became effective the following day.

In 1912, S.D. Williams took over as Secretary, serving until 1923, when Ira Houtcooper became Secretary-Treasurer. During the period that Sam Williams was Secretary, Dr. J.F. Timm served as President of West McLean. Mr. Houtcooper continued to serve as Secretary until his death in 1952, a period of nearly thirty years. Julius Mattson acted as Secretary-Treasurer on a temporary basis after Ira's death, until Donnell Haugen took over in July of 1953.

On January 16, 1956, the company's articles of incorporation and its bylaws were amended, and its name shortened to West McLean County Farmers Mutual Insurance Company. The company, at this time, provided for protection of the property of its policyholders against damage from all windstorms and hail losses, as well as loss by fire and lightning. Also at this time, the company's place of business was officially moved to Roseglen.

In 1962, the company's field of operations was broadened to include Ward and Mountrail counties. The directors felt that West McLean could provide excellent service to the southern sections of these counties.

To meet competition from so-called "farmer owners" or broad form farm policies, in 1964, a broad form multi-peril endorsement was made available to West McLean policyholders as an option. This endorsement provided protection from leakage or overflow of water and heating systems, theft, vandalism, and other risks. It also provided broader protection for livestock, and included an additional living expense allowance.

Although not a large county mutual, West McLean, in 1967, had 320 policyholders, and over six and a quarter million dollars of insurance in force, with reserves of fifty-five thousand dollars. It reinsured all risks over $2,500 in a statewide mutual reinsurance company.

Members of the West McLean board of directors in 1967 were: Julius Mattson of Roseglen, President, John Traub of Garrison, Vice-President, Lyle Reynolds of Douglas, Alfred Cole of Ryder, Clifford Kolden of Roseglen, Wendell Haugen of Ryder, and Gerald Johnson of Douglas.

Early in 1967, an examination of the company was made by auditors for the North Dakota Insurance Department. The examination report concluded, "The directors and secretary have done an outstanding job in operating a true Farm Mutual Insurance Company."