Daily Archives: February 10, 2014

Sherman Foutz Wants Your Fire Insurance Business

Sherman S. Foutz

Second Great-Uncle Sherman S. Foutz

1910 Ads Angle for Harrisburg Policy Holders

This post begins a run where we jump the track of mere milestone-gazing — as fun as it’s been sharing a mere foretaste of the feast of newspaper ink uncovered on ancestors from the 20th century during a recent Newspapers.com research binge — and return to some of the chief mysteries surrounding the family and descendants of my great-grandfather Vance Foutz’s oldest brother, Sherman Foutz.

The modern-day “Extra Extra?” I’ve solved a few of them.

Those revelations to come.

Today, we warm up with a return to the Sherman Foutz narrative. From the first post on this blog, concerning Sherman Foutz’s promising life cut short in 1915 by tuberculosis, I’ve had a nagging fascination with my great-great uncle’s family and descendants. Partly, because he was a such a mold-breaker for that first century and a half of farming Foutzes: first to college, first to establish himself outside farming, first to break away to the big city after landing a big-time Treasury Department appointment in Washington.

Sherman’s was a life that garnered praise in history books. After his stint in Washington, he made a name for himself in the insurance business and fraternal circles throughout Reading and Harrisburg, Pa.

His was also a life cut short, at 47. He had the money to travel to a famous Lutheran sanitarium near Denver, Colorado to seek a cure, but ultimately succumbed. Leaving big mysteries and a grieving family in his wake.

What happened to son Oscar and daughter-in-law Florence? Why did daughter Grace elope just months after Sherman’s death and move back to Ohio, where she lived within a dozen or so miles from my family of Foutzes but escaped everyone’s memory? And what of wife Lizzie? Her gravestone shows her buried in Ohio alongside Sherman some 30 years after he died, but census records show her living far beneath the social circles they previously moved in, alternately responsible for grandsons Ralph and Harry Sherman and foster daughter Catherine Foutz Rutt, but seemingly cut off from them as well.

What’s the story? More on that in the coming days.

Burnt Out? Find Foutz for Fire Insurance

But let’s get warmed up, if you will, by reacquainting ourselves with Sherman’s family through the press clippings that chronicled their days in Pennsylvania.

Sherman enjoyed success in the insurance business in Reading before packing the family up and moving to Harrisburg, probably about 1909, according to the April 9, 1909 Reading Times.

Shortly after moving to Harrisburg, Sherman’s new business plans are announced in an April 1910 Harrisburg Telegraph item on the Home Friendly Society of Pennsylvania, which planned to pay out sickness, death and accident benefits to qualifying policy-holders.

But Sherman’s bread-and-butter business offering remained his fire insurance practice, as evidenced by the series of ads running in the Telegraph the winter of 1910-11.

The ads themselves read to me today as practically indecipherable, but at least true in spirit to the core of his Knights of the Maccabees affiliation. Still — “Refuse to pay a policy fee… but call on S.S. Foutz?” “Both phones?” “If you need a calendar, come soon, or the supply will be exhausted?” “If you will do this… a souvenir will be presented you.” “Remember the place.”

I’ve written some copy in my time, and probably could have done Great-Great Uncle Sherman a solid. That said, business was good. Take a look and see if you’d sign up.

Foutz Sherman insurance ad 2 Harrisburg Telegraph 6 Jan 1911 Foutz Sherman insurance ad Harrisburg Telegraph 17 Dec 1910

According to a quick search on Google Maps, this block may be where Sherman Foutz did business in Harrisburg. The door in the middle is 33 N. 2nd St. I don’t know when these buildings date to — the whole area looks revitalized — but take a look and imagine Sherman doing business above the pub or restaurant on the second floor.

31 N 2nd St Harrisburg PA

The block where Sherman Foutz may have done business in Harrisburg, PA.

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