Germantown Insurance Company

picture of the original Germantown Insurance Building in Dheinsville; 1999
Original Germantown Insurance Building
six corners in Dhinesville

On 1 April 1854 began a new adventure in the State of Wisconsin. Five individuals and an idea came together and there began the Germantown Farmers Insurance Company. These five individuals with great foresight were Philipp Dhein Jr, George Regenfuss, John Kissinger, Christopher Schreck, and Adam Staats. Why and insurance company, why not. These were businessmen. More than likely a farmer or two lost their property. Possibly even one of these businessmen. By special act of the State Legislature the company was charted as the first mutual insurance company in the state.

In this time, in a community yet to be name but referred to by the locals as Staatsville there was a post office, hotel, and brewery. Which offering was the most important? That probably depended on the day of the week. What is known is that the hotel was the social spot in this wilderness area. Being located on Fond du Lac Trail, it had all the earmarkings of a community to be born.

The new insurance company had an organization meeting and elected officers, directors, and three agents. The first officers and directors were: Adam Staats, president; George Kohler, secretary; Peter M. Schneider, treasurer; John Kissinger, director; Christopher Schreck, director; George Regenfuss, director; and Philipp Dhein Jr., director. The first three agents were Dieter Schrier, Adam Schottler, and Nicolaus Casper.

On 26 September of 1854 Agent Deiter Schreier sold the first insurance policy on the property of Peter Casper. The farm was located in the West 1/2 of the Northeast quarter of Section 8 in Town 9 of Range 20 East (Germantown). The policy covered his dwelling house, barn, stables, horses and other items. The premium was $10.63. All the policies that year were written by Agent Schreier were generally of the same type policy. Others covered "clothing and laundry" and "tools and leather" as the insured was a bootmaker and other trades people.

picture of the original Germantown Insurance Building in Dheinsville, rear view; 1999
Orginal Germantown Insurance Building
(rear view)

Beginning in January 1865 the second and third agent began issuing policies. Agent Adam Schottler first policy was written on the Joachin Wilele property in section 19 of Town 9. Agent Nicolaus Casper's first policy was written on the property of Conrad Kurtz in Section 27, Town 10 (Richfield). Activities of the company spread in all directions with policies being written in Fond du Lac, Cedarburg, and Port Washington. The initial business office was in the Staats Hotel. In 1867 the annual meeting had moved north to Philipp Dhein's home. Directors were: Damien Wolf, Valentine Dhein, George Boek, and S.S. Clark. Officers were: Goerge Regenfuss, president; Henry Fleischer, secretary; and William Staats, treasurer. The February business meeting reelected George Regenfuss as President. The meeting was held in the business office at Staats hotel. This year the first claim was approved for property in Sheboygan County.

The company prospered and the Ad Hoc arrangement at the Staats Hotel was rapidly exceeded. On 2 June 1870 the company purchased a quarter acre of land from Jacob Fleischer and proceeded to prepared plans to construct a building. Today the property would be identified along Holy Hill Road about 200 feet west of Highway 145 on the south side.

Plans for the building called for six courses of brick to be laid creating a wall almost a foot thick. The inner walls for the safe and the president's office were poured concrete with the safe located at the center back of the building and the president's office to the west. The windows were fan-shaped at the top with arched and paneled woodwork. A wainscoting [wood paneling] covered the lower walls. The building supposedly contained five chimneys probably supporting a fireplace in each room with occupants.

So popular were the annual meetings that the 1877 meeting was moved from the office to Dhein's Hall to allow everyone (200) to hear the reports. That year the minutes were written in English for the first time. Large crowds at these meetings prompted the company to provide a lunch for all attending. This began a tradition which continued for many years, with good friends gathering each year first to vote, then attend the meeting followed by a hearty noon dinner, and then hours of cigar smoking, schafskopf card games and plenty of gemuetlicheit.

picture of Insurance Company Building, Main Street; 1911
Insurance Building
Main Street

As times changed and business grew, the company found it advantageous to move its business office from Dheinsville to the village proper and this they did in 1911 locating on the north side of Main Street directly across from the Schwalbach store complex.

picture of  Second Building Expanded, Main Street; 1999
Building Expanded

Some time before 1979, the building was expanded at which time it lost its columned front entrance.

(the picture on the right show the expanded building on the left side and citizens bank building, later a post office, on the right side. The picture was taken in 1999.)

picture of Christmas Office Party, mid 1950s
Germantown Mutual Insurance Company
Christmas Party mid 1950s

(b-r:) June Wruck, Ann Schulteis
(f-r:) Ruth Jonen, Santa Claus, Caroline Schumann
Santa - Edgar C. Gother (a Milwaukee Agent)

Eighty some years later it was said again, as times changed and business grew, the company found it advantageous to move its business office this time from Main Street to a location in the village west and south towards Willow Creek on the north side of Highway 41.

The Office Today; 2003 <
New Office Building Along Highway 41

The companies current web site

(information gleaned from articles written by the Germantown Historical Society and from newspaper clippings shared by June Wruck)