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In the early 1900s, severe storms passed through Michigan affecting farmland across the state. Michigan businessman, George Whitaker, grew tired of seeing countless neighbors’ livelihoods go up in smoke from sudden lightning strikes. He also knew that many community members could not afford the very expensive fire insurance that was so common at the time. In response to this, Whitaker designed a plan to sell lightning rods with an insurance policy. Farm owners who purchased a lightning rod would also receive an insurance discount, keeping them both safe and secure in case of a loss.

In order to better promote his ideas, Whitaker recruited the cooperation of prominent local landowners, Travis Leach and George Foster. Together the men sought out other Michigan leaders to help market their ideas.

On Friday, January 17, 1908, the group joined forces to create a mutual insurance company entitled “Farmer’s Mutual Lightning Protected Fire Insurance Company of Michigan, Ltd.” Fire insurance would be sold only to those whose buildings were properly and safely equipped with lightning rods, making this company one of the first in the nation to offer a discount for safe practices.

The Whitaker House
The Whitaker House