Tuscarora Wayne: It Started in a Thunderstorm

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The Tuscarora Wayne Insurance Company sprung from the independent spirit of the tenacious farmers of rural Northeastern Pennsylvania. The place was Tuscarora Township in Bradford County. The scene was a barn owned by William Shumway, and the time was the summer of 1874, less than a decade after the American Civil War. 

There was thunder booming outside and bolts of lightning snapping over the rolling terrain later to be named the Endless Mountains. The thunderstorm must have been a poignant reminder of what a strike could do to a barn filled with hay and assistance from neighboring farms too far away to save a blazing structure.

Shumway’s grandfather, Reuben, had fought in the Revolutionary War and had the distinction of being one of those assigned to guard Major John Andre, the British intelligence officer hung as a spy for conspiring with Benedict Arnold in his infamous betrayal. William, as the third generation operating this historic farm, gained renown as one of the most progressive and innovative farmers in the region. His role in helping farmers protect themselves from the calamity of fire attests to this. William Shumway would also become the first President of what would evolve into the Tuscarora Wayne Insurance Company through its various incarnations over a span of some 140 years.

The gathering in Shumway’s barn on Spring Hill included neighboring farmers, notably one John Black. Their discussion concerned the recent visit of a traveling insurance agent who had stopped at various residences in the vicinity in an attempt to sell insurance that would supposedly protect their farms from calamities such as fires wrought by lightning strikes or a lantern kicked over by a cow. Black, in particular, is said to have seen great merit in insuring their livelihoods, but why entrust the coverage to someone representing a company many miles away? His suggestion? Insure themselves as a group, pooling their resources. 

It was an idea whose time had come and the thunderstorm outside no doubt reminded them of the potential perils that awaited them. On that hot summer afternoon in 1874, Shumway and Black fleshed out their plan. From there they were able to raise $50,000 and obtain a charter for the Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Tuscarora. 

William Shumway was the Company's first President, with Archie Sumner serving as the original Secretary. As for Black, the man whose seed of an idea had germinated into a company, he was the first agent—the man who sold the policies and handled the day-to-day business. 

 

TW Grows Steadily Since 1950’s

It would be almost four decades before the company would have a building of its own. Elderly residents of the area still remember when the business office was in the Spring Hill home of Roy Blocher, where it served a steadily growing number of policyholders for decades.

For the United States, the 1950’s have been described as a decade of great prosperity wrapped in the tension and conflict of the Cold War, and 1953 was notable for a genuine American hero, Dwight D. Eisenhower, moving into the White House. This was also the year when two of the most dramatic changes in the history of Tuscarora Wayne transpired. The word “fire” was dropped from its name and it became Farmers Mutual Insurance Company of Tuscarora. But 1953 was also the year when its physical presence became a newly constructed building on State Street (Route 6) in Wyalusing, where its modernized and remodeled offices, housing 37 full-time employees, still stand today. 

The changes came quickly in the ensuing decades:

• 1963— the company name is changed to Tuscarora Mutual Insurance Company on the heels of acquiring the Susquehanna Grange Mutual Insurance Company of New Milford, PA, and the Abington Mutual Fire Insurance Association of Clarks Green, PA. 

• 1969 — the company merges with the Main, Beaver and Black Creek Mutual Fire and Storm Insurance Company of Bloomsburg, PA. 

• 1973 — Tuscarora Mutual consolidates with Wayne County Farmers Mutual Insurance Company of Honesdale, PA, and is subsequently renamed Tuscarora-Wayne Mutual Insurance Company. 

• 1986 — Tuscarora-Wayne absorbs the Tioga Mutual Insurance Company in Mansfield, PA, through a reinsurance and assumption agreement. 

• 1994 — Reinsurance assumption leads to acquiring Penn Central Mutual Insurance Company, Loganton, PA, continuing operations at that location as a branch office of Tuscarora-Wayne. 

• 2000 — The name Tuscarora Wayne Group of Companies gains preeminence when Washington Mutual Fire and Storm Insurance Company, Falls Creek, PA, joins the fold. This affiliation is accomplished through acquisition by control of the board of directors and sharing a common board of directors. 

• 2004 — Keystone National Insurance Company is formed under the combined ownership of Tuscarora Wayne Insurance Company (TW) and Keystone Capital Investors, LLC. Keystone National is a licensed property and casualty, stock insurance company, with all members of the TW Board of Directors serving on that governing body. 

• 2009 —Tuscarora-Wayne Mutual Insurance Company policyholders, as well as those of Washington Mutual Fire and Storm Insurance Company, vote in favor of partial conversions to stock insurance companies. The respective company names become Tuscarora Wayne Insurance Company and Washington Fire and Storm Insurance Company. As a result of the conversions, the companies form Tuscarora Wayne Mutual Group, Inc., a mutual holding company and the Tuscarora Wayne Group, Inc., a stock holding company. 

• 2010—Tuscarora Wayne completes the acquisition of the Lebanon Mutual Insurance Company, a statewide property and casualty insurer out of Lebanon County, founded in 1856. It is subsequently reorganized into a mutual holding company. In November, Lebanon Mutual policyholders approve this reorganization.

• 2011— Lebanon Valley Insurance Company becomes a formal entity on January 3 with the Tuscarora Wayne Mutual Group, Inc. as its ultimate parent.

• Today— The Tuscarora Wayne Group of Companies is comprised of the Tuscarora Wayne Mutual Group Inc., Susquehanna Capital, Corp., Tuscarora Wayne Insurance Company, Keystone National Insurance Company and Lebanon Valley Insurance Company.

Continuity at the top, sheathed in a fiscally conservative business philosophy, are exemplified in the leadership of the company over the past six decades under the management of just three chief executive officers—Walter Mitten, James W. Chadwick and current Chairman/President/Chief Executive Officer Jay W. Chadwick.

Did You Know?

$45 billion dollars were paid by insurance companies for natural catastrophes and man-made disaster claims around the world in 2013, says Swiss Re, a global reinsurance company.  Global insured losses for 2013 represent a big drop from 2012 when there were $81 billion in paid claims.