It is no secret that Marietta's positioning at the confluence of two major waterways was by design. But early settlers quickly learned that this placement could bring catastrophes as well as commerce, prompting several insurance agencies to pop up early in Marietta's history.
Several of these agencies have stood the test of time and still exist in Marietta decades or even a century later.
The Schultheis Insurance Agency traces its 1928 inception back to a sports legend who did not heed some good advice.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Ed Flanders goes over paperwork at the Putnam Street office which has housed the Flanders Brother Insurance Agency since 1930.
Photo courtesy of Kirk Schultheis
Darrel Schultheis, left, poses with sons Kirk Schultheis, center, and Ben Schultheis. Kirk now runs the business, which has operated in Marietta since 1928.
Al Jolly, who founded the original Schultheis Agency as Al Jolly Insurance, was previously a football player for the Pittsburgh Titans. Despite admonishments against it, Jolly decided to take on one of the toughest running backs in the league, explained current owner Kirk Schultheis.
"When he woke up three days later in the hospital, he decided to change professions, and he decided to start the insurance agency," said Schultheis.
Though the agency has gone through some changes-such as new owners and names-it is the company's consistency that has kept them in business.
At a glance
Washington County Farmers Mutual Insurance Association
Founded in 1897.
Location: 435 Third St.
The Hayes Insurance Agency
Founded in 1919.
Location: 202 Union St.
The Schultheis Insurance Agency
Founded in 1928.
Location: 418 1/2 Third St.
The Schwendeman Agency
Founded in 1929.
Location: 109 Putnam St.
Founded in 1937.
Location: 102 Gross St.
"It's consistency and being as fair as you can in all the dealings," said Schultheis.
Larry Schwendeman, who now helms The Schwendeman Agency with brother Mark, agreed that consistency is essential to longevity.
"It's continuity and a solid foundation and sticking to basic moral principals," said Larry.
The Schwendeman Agency was opened in 1929 by Larry's grandfather, Andrew Schwendeman.
"Today it's a third-generation company, but there's fourth-generation working here," said Larry.
Each generation has brought about changes and growth to the company.
"We've grown from just a couple employees to 26, and we have locations in Marietta, St. Clairsville and Parkersburg," said Larry.
Also founded in the early 20th century is The Hayes Insurance Agency, which opened shop in the St. Clair Building in 1919. The company was founded by Will V. Hayes, said Hayes' grandson and company president Bill Donnelly.
"He was a general property and casualty agent. He did a lot of farms. We don't do much in the farm business anymore, but we're still a property and casualty firm," said Donnelly, whose father Roy was Hayes' son-in-law.
Hayes is currently ushering in its fourth generation of ownership as well. Bill's son Bob Donnelly has been with the company almost 15 years and co-owns the business with Bill.
Slightly younger is Biehl-Hawn Insurance. According to its website, the company has been doing business in Marietta since 1937.
The title of oldest area insurance agency goes to Flanders Brother Insurance Agency. Brothers Charles and Edwin Flanders founded the company in 1889, meaning the company celebrates 125 years in business this year, noted current owner Ed Flanders.
One of the greatest advantages the family-owned business has had over the years is its autonomy, said Ed.
"Many of the insurance agencies in our industry are subsidiaries or sister companies of larger insurance carriers...We're not tied to a third party," he said.
Flanders has changed over the years, though. For instance, they initially dabbled in real estate as well as insurance. But they dropped that component of the business in 1930 when they moved to their current location on Putnam Street.
"We've geared more and more toward commercial lines and of course our clientele is spread out, outside of the area," said Ed.
Nearly as old, the Washington County Farmers Mutual Insurance Association was established in 1897. According to its website, the company was founded by 15 men who contributed $2 each to start the business.