This photo is taken from the book Heritage of Ixonia,
By HOWARD WIEDENHOEFT
June is National Dairy Month and Forward Mutual takes great pride in supporting Wisconsin’s long-cherished industry. In fact, our dairy heritage goes way back to the late 1800s when our founding companies insured not only the local farmers, but also their butter and cheese factories.
Here’s how that came about.
On March 13, 1876, the state of Wisconsin changed its legislation regulating town insurance companies. What previously was known as Chapter 103 and allowed the formation of mutual companies for insuring of rural homes and farms, now became known as Chapter 344. This change allowed mutual companies, upon approval from their members, to “insure country stores and their contents, school-houses, churches, town and society halls, but such risk shall not exceed fifteen hundred dollars in any one case.” There was no provision in the law to require town insurance companies to make reports to the insurance department.
In 1879, members of Ixonia Mutual Fire Insurance Company voted to begin insuring churches, schoolhouses and stores. In 1880, they voted to insure cheese and butter factories. One of the first factories the company insured was Ixonia Cheese and Butter Company. They also insured cheese factories that many of us never knew existed—County Line Cheese Factory; Farmer Home Cheese Factory; Green Valley Brick Cheese Company; Gopher Hill Cheese Manufacturing Company; H. J. Roberts Cheese Factory; Ixonia Brelles Cheese Factory; and the Pipersville Cheese Factory.
Ixonia Mutual continued to write property solely in the Town of Ixonia until 1886, when members voted to add the town(ships) of Concord, Lebanon, Oconomowoc and Watertown to its writing territory.
In 1881, members of Watertown Mutual Fire Insurance Company voted at its annual meeting to add the town(ships) of Aztalan, Lake Mills and Waterloo to its writing territory. In 1892 the company added the Town of Concord, for a total of eight towns. The company also increased the size of its board of directors to seven in 1892, to nine directors in 1885, and then back to seven members in 1886.
Interestingly the members of Watertown Mutual would not approve of insuring cheese or butter factories until 1894.
Since their first issuance in 1872, Wisconsin’s insurance regulations have undergone many changes. We’ll follow more of those in upcoming By the Minutes episodes. In the meantime, share some of your dairy stories with us for June Dairy Month!