By HOWARD WIEDENHOEFT
It is now 2020 and so many things have changed since our mutual began 145 years ago.
Life for our insureds was very different back then. The only means of travel was by foot or horseback. People used cash to pay for their purchases. They communicated by speaking in person or writing a letter.
Today we can drive our cars from town to town within minutes. We seldom use cash; instead we pay by checks, debit/credit cards or EFT (electronic funds transfer). Our communication options include phone, email, texting and more.
Life for our mutual 145 years ago was also different. Back then, company records were handwritten and stored in a large heavy safe. Our mutual would assess the policyholders for money to cover its property losses. Wisconsin laws allowed mutual insurance company to insure property in only five townships within one county.
Today, Forward Mutual stores its records electronically “in the cloud.” It charges advance premiums to policyholders and purchases reinsurance to cover its property losses. And as of January 1, 2020, Forward Mutual is a non-assessable mutual, meaning it can insure property throughout the state of Wisconsin (Wisconsin Insurance Chapter 611).
Yes, 145 years have brought many changes!
I can’t help but wonder if the 35 members that formed Watertown Mutual and the 31 members that formed Ixonia Mutual could have foreseen the companies they started to be as a strong and active mutual 145 years later?
As we celebrate the success of these two mutuals and what they are today, we must also give credit to the nine individuals who served as secretaries for Watertown Mutual and the 11 who served as secretaries for Ixonia Mutual. They kept the minutes, to be sure, but they have also served as historians and preservationists. To have 145 years of our mutuals’ minutes is amazing.
Beside the minutes, credit needs to be given to two reference books use. “Heritage of Ixonia” by Alida and Carl Jaeger for the Town of Ixonia history and photos and “The Towns Mutual” by James “Cliff” O’Donnell for the history of the town mutual industry in Wisconsin.
I am proud of Forward Mutual’s history. I’m sure the founders and the many who served as directors and officers would be equally proud.
Whatever the future holds for Forward Mutual, the company minutes will continue to serve as its history.
The future follows.