Page 4 - Frankenmuth Insurance 150 Years Anniversary Booklet
P. 4

The first neighbors: 1868

              Sprechen Sie Deutsch? In 1868, if you couldn’t understand this question —

              and answer “Ja!”— you could not be a part of the Deutschen Frankenmuther
              Unterstützungs-Verein (the German Frankenmuth Aid Association),

                            the group that became Frankenmuth Insurance. The verein
                             was a true mutual insurance society. Members listed the

                             buildings and goods they wished to insure. When a member
                             had a loss due to fire or lightning, the other members all

                              contributed to cover it, knowing they would be supported the
                              same way in their time of need.

                               The association had written rules and bylaws, trustees
                               appointed to handle business dealings, and restrictions on
              membership. Only German-speaking members were allowed, all members

              had to be Lutherans in good standing, and those with questionable morals

              were barred from joining. One man was denied membership because he
              once held a dance in his house; after promising never to repeat the offense,
              he was given membership. Since the agreement relied on all members

              to help when other members sustained losses, the character of its members

              was a critical concern.

              These requirements didn’t limit the growth of the association; by the late
              1870s, German-speaking Lutherans from as far away as Birch Run and

              Saginaw were joining up. Soon the association had nearly 500 members —
              more than double its original roster — and was insuring property worth about

              a half-million dollars.

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