Risk & Business Magazine F.A. Peabody Insurance Magazine Fall 2017 - Page 6

F.A. Peabody Company Houlton Office Today F. A. Peabody Company: A Portrait Of Growth And Diversity THE EARLY YEARS In keeping with the entrepreneurial spirit of the late 1880s, William C. Donnell, the first cashier of the First National Bank of Houlton, seized the opportunity afforded by the increased growth and prosperity of Houlton to start an insurance agency. On October 29, 1887, Mr. Donnell opened his insurance company in a small office conveniently located in the heart of the Houlton business and financial district. Very soon, the young company was granted a license to sell insurance by a major national firm: National Fire Insurance Company. This new business venture became the cornerstone of today’s F. A. Peabody Company. At the turn of the century, a distinguished New Brunswick native, Frank Allen Peabody, moved to Houlton and entered the insurance industry. By 1906, Mr. Donnell and Mr. Peabody, foreseeing an optimistic future, merged their interests into the Donnell & Peabody Company. In this same year, the Houlton Trust Company completed a new building on the corner of Water Street, forming what was then known as “Market Square.” Donnell & Peabody Company flourished for the next twelve years on the second floor of this new building under the expert guidance of the two founders. Donnell retired in 1918 and Peabody became the sole owner. In the early ’20s following Donnell’s departure, Peabody joined forces with another local agent, Alton E. Carter, and the combined entity was called the Peabody Carter Company. As additional staff was added, the partnership became incorporated 6 in 1927. Lewis P. Bither became treasurer in 1928, and by 1931, he had purchased all of Carter’s interests. Carter relinquished his name as part of the corporate title, and by 1933, the company became forever known as The F. A. Peabody Company. In that same year, Oscar P. Benn joined the agency, and in 1946, Fred Sylvester became part of the team and eventually the treasurer. Benn bought out the insurance interest of F. A. and Bither in 1947, becoming its president when F. A. retired in 1949. Frank sadly passed shortly after in 1950. Spanish-American War and commissioned for several years as a captain in the Maine National Guard of Company L, F. A. was both president of the Maine Association of Insurance Agents and chairman of Houlton’s Board of Selectmen (for fourteen years) at the same time. He was a charter member and first president of the Houlton Rotary Club. He presided over the Houlton Trust Company until his death and was the former chairman of the Maine State Highway Commission. He was one of Houlton’s most prominent citizens up to the year of his death in 1950 at the age of 82. It is in honor of this highly respected community-minded gentleman that the F.A. Peabody Company holds its name. The company continued to expand, and the need for more space to house Benn, Sylvester, and their four secretaries was urgent. So, after forty-six years on the second floor of the Houlton Trust Company, F. A. Peabody Company relocated to 1 Market Square. Caricature of Frank Allen Peabody Frank A. Peabody’s illustrious career in the insurance business lasted over fifty years, during which he was active in both industry and civic affairs. A veteran of the Oscar Benn had a natural affinity for promoting the professional development of quality people. It was Oscar that created the first branch office by asking Vera and Bink Mitchell to sell insurance for FAPCO in Sherman. Vera took the lead and worked out of her house with an additional employee until FAPCO could afford an office location. FAPCO eventually built one in 1981, strategically situated by the intersection of I-95 and Route 11 where it remains to this day. Oscar Benn served as president of the F. A. Peabody Company until his retirement in