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German Fire Insurance Company of Wheeling
Incorporated in 1867, The German Fire Insurance Company of Wheeling was just one of many German businesses established in Wheeling following the wave of German emigration in the early and mid part of the 19th century. Following World War I, many German businesses—wishing to distance themselves from the widespread anti-German sentiment prevalent in the days following the war—dropped their German associations, and in 1919, the German Fire Insurance Company became the Wheeling Fire Insurance Company.
-from "The History of West Virginia, Old and New," American Historical Society, Inc., Chicago and New York, Volume III, 1923, pg. 12
THE WHEELING FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY is one of the old and substantial institutions of West Virginia, dates its inception back more than half a century, has a splendid record of service and is the only fire insurance company in the state. It was incorporated in 1867, as the German Fire Insurance Company, and with a capital of $100,000, operations having been instituted on the 5th of July of that year. Of the original capital all was paid in, and safe and conservative policies have attended the enterprise during the long years of its progressive history. In 1905 the capital of the corporation was increased to $200,000. Its premiums from the time of organization to 1921 aggregate $5830,030; losses paid, $2,857,688; dividends in stock, $90,000; cash dividends, $76,000. The insurance now in force aggregates $46,600,000, and the company is licensed to do business in eighteen different states of the Union. The present handsome and modern building of the company was erected in 1907, and represents a valuation of $85,000.
In the course of its long and successful record the Wheel- ing Fire Insurance Company has had but two presidents. John Oesterling, the first president, continued the incumbent of this office until his death in 1883, when he was succeeded by William F. Stifel, who has since continued the executive head and who is the subject of the personal sketch preceding. Fidelius Riester was secretary of the company more than forty years, and after his death, September 16, 1919, was succeeded by the present incumbent, 0. E. Strauch, who entered the service of the company in 1907 in the position of cashier, from which he was advanced in turn to that of assistant secretary and then secretary. William V. Fischer, the present assistant secretary and an insurance man of broad experience, has been associated with the company since 1918.
Location information taken from available city directories -- some years missing:
▶ 1867-?:71 Main Street
▶ 1872-?: Above the German Bank Building (w side of Market, between John [16th] and Quincy [14th])
▶ 1882-?: 29 14th Street (Opera House Building)
▶ 1886-1902: 29 & 31 14th Street (Opera House Building)
▶ 1902-1906: 1120 Market Street
▶ 1906-1918: 1219 Chapline Street (now Bailey & Wyant, PLLC)
After 1918, German Fire Insurance Company continued operating at 1219 Chapline as Wheeling Fire Insurance Co., though the name "German Fire Insurance Co." still remains on the building today.
▶ Archives Vertical File: German Fire Insurance Company, non-circulating. Contains ink blotter from company (View digital copy on the OCPL's Flickr site). View archives vertical file by appointment only. Please call 304-232-0244 or ask at the reference desk to make an appointment.