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Editor's Notes:

Millburn Mutual Insurance Company
Presented by Beatrice Anderson
January 19, 1980
125th Anniversary Meeting
Millburn Mutual Insurance Company,
Lauren Hall, Millburn Congregational Church.

There was a great westward movement of people in our county following the panic of 1837, when many were suddenly unemployed due to the closing of factories and mills in New England. About this same time the great immigration from Europe had begun. The long journey westward was far from easy, but always filled with hope. Here they could have freedom to own their homes and make a new life for their families and themselves.

Among the first white settlers to come into this area were three young Scotchmen, Peter, Robert, and George Strang. In 1838 they were returning from Will County, Illinois where they had been working on the Illinois - Michigan Canal. Having no money they had walked from their home in Chatham, Ontario, Canada to Will County and were on their way home.

They liked what they saw here. The rolling, wooded countryside with a flowing stream reminded them of their homeland.

They laid claim to several hundred acres and then continued on their way home to tell their parents what they had found.

The next year, 1839, the parents Mr. and Mrs. John Strang, their four sons and two of their daughters left Chatham which had been their home since coming from Scotland in 1834 and came to this new country to make their home.

They settled on the land the sons had claimed the year before (which is right here where we are to-day).

The flowing stream nearby would provide water for the live stock and furnish power to turn the grist and saw mills.

After the government survey of the land was complete (1840) Mr. Strang bought additional land for $1.25 per acre.

Hearing from relatives and friends already settled here, many Scottish people came to this area to make their homes. The little settlement thus begun was called Strang's Settlement or Strang's Corners.

In Scotland a small flowing stream is called a burn. As several mills were built along the stream, it was often referred to as the mill burn. Mr. George Trotter, who came from Scotland (1839) has been given credit for naming the settlement Millburn.

In 1844, the Rev. Mr. William Bradford Dodge, his wife and family came from Salem, Massachusetts, and settled about a mile south of the village. Here he hoped to retire, but there was work for him to do. The little church organized in 1840 did not have a regular minister and he assumed the duties of the first resident pastor of Millburn Church. He was then sixty-one years of age and served in that capacity for eighteen years. He endeared himself to all his people and was affectionately called "Father Dodge".

Everything that affected the life of his people concerned "Father Dodge". On numerous occasions he had seen the smoke and flames that spread the news of a disastrous fire. In a few hours a farmstead was leveled and years of saving and slaving were nullified. "Why not share one another's losses" reasoned "Father" Dodge", and so fulfill the law of love?

As a result the Millburn Mutual Insurance Co. was formed in 1855. It was organized March 12 of that year and operated without a charter until 1865, when it received a special charter under which it operates to-day. It has the distinction of being the oldest mutual company in Illinois.

The first meeting was March 5, 1855 when the company was organized. The officers elected were:

At the close of the first year there were 59 policy holders and $43.00 in the treasury.

June 4, 1864, Mr. Havella Whitney was appointed a committee of one to draft a charter for the company. January 24, 1865, the charter drafted by Mr. Whitney was submitted and approved. he was instructed to forward the charter to Springfield. Little did these men realize the value of the charter that they presented to the farmers of Lake County. The charter gives privileges no other company has been able to get and it should be guarded well.

At the annual meeting in 1870 it was voted to hold all annual meetings at Millburn, the first Saturday after the first Monday in January. The latter rule was followed for many years.

Saturday, January 5, 1905, members and friends of the company gathered in Millburn Church to attend the annual meeting and observe the 50th anniversary of the company.

Prominently displayed in the front of the room were pictures of "Father" Dodge, James M. Dodge, Robert, George, and John Strang who were among those pioneers who organized the company.

A program followed the business session. Honorable mention was given Mr. Havelia Whitney for drafting the charter and by-laws in accord with the wishes of "Father" Dodge and his associates.

The speaker of the day was the Honorable Charles Whitney, son of Havelia Whitney. In his speech he said "Millburn was settled, and the Insurance Company founded, by sturdy Scotchmen who thought more of character than property. For fifty years the Millburn Mutual Insurance Company has prospered because of honesty and good management. The community prospered, controlled by an unwritten law -"Do unto others as ye would they do unto you".

January 11, 1930. Members and friends of the company met at Millburn Church for the annual business meeting and observance of the 75th anniversary.

Following the dinner served by the ladies of the church there was a musical program consisting of a violin duet by Richard Martin and Vernon Webb accompanied by Mrs. E. A. Martin, and several vocal numbers by Miss Kater.

The address of the day was given by Mr. H. P. Hostetter, secretary of Mount Carroll Mutual Fire Insurance Company.

For many years members of the Ladies Aid Society of the church, assisted by ladies in the community, served a chicken pie dinner to those attending the annual meeting of the Insurance Company. The meetings were usually held in the Masonic Hall, and the dinner served in the church dining room.

January 12, 1935, was the date for the annual meeting to be held in the Masonic Hall, with the usual dinner to be served at noon in the church dining room.

Early in the forenoon, fires were started in the church in preparation for the dinner. Due to an overheated stove, fire got into the wall of the meeting room and was beyond control when discovered. Three fire departments were called, but could not save the church, but no other building in the village caught fire. The church was a total loss, but most of the furnishings were saved.

After a short delay the usual chicken pie dinner was served in the Masonic Hall.

1955 was the centennial year for the company.

The annual business meeting was held on the usual date in January at the church. Plans were made for the centennial celebration. March 12, 1955 was set as the date to celebrate one hundred years of service, the event to be held in the church dining room. A roast beef dinner was served by the ladies of the church, followed by a time of fellowship and reminiscing. A program was planned for the afternoon featuring "Red" Blanchard, a WLS radio entertainer.

Mr. H. L. Kennicott, Glenview, Illinois gave the address of the day.

Now we come to another celebration - the 125th anniversary.

The last twenty-five have shown growth due to work on the part of officers and agents of the company.

In the past George B. Stephens (seventeen years a president) and John A. Thain (twenty-four years as secretary) were given credit for being the most able promoters of the company, devoting much time and energy for the betterment of the company.

It is certain all the officers and agents down through the years have worked very hard for the success of the company. Those who have served as presidents (All deceased):

Pres. Donald Truax, elected in 1967, is a great grandson of Peter Strang who walked into this area 142 years ago.

Past Secretaries (all are deceased):

The present secretary is Carol Denman.

Past Treasurers (all are deceased):

Howard Bonner, present treasurer has held that office for 20 years. He a great grandson of pioneer Bonner family who came to this area in the early 1840's. (From Aberdeenshire, Scotland).

As of this date there are 1,743 policy holders, and a little more than $_______ in the treasury!