The Rockingham Group of insurance companies has grown from a small county assessment mutual insurance company to a regional, mid-Atlantic insurer with a reputation for integrity, product innovation, and exceptional customer service. Though the company is on the cutting edge of insurance industry trends, its never forgotten its roots and the values that set it on a successful course over the last 140-plus years.
In 1869, the Shenandoah Valley, along with the rest of Virginia, was recovering from a devastating war and was still under the rule of martial law. The Civil War had ended, but the economic devastation was still evident, and the loss of property still a fresh memory in the minds of Shenandoah Valley residents. But Virginians are a hardy and stubborn bunch and were determined to do their part to reunite the country and rebuild their lives, as well as their communities, from the ashes of war. It was with this spirit that four farmers and businessmen met in a small frame structure (pictured here) in Port Republic, Virginia. Port Republic was the end of Stonewall Jackson's famous Valley Campaign and the location no doubt served as a solemn reminder that destruction and loss of property was something that families in their communities needed protection against. And the commitment was made to do just that was made in that little frame building.
Thus, Rockingham Home Mutual Fire Insurance Company was formed. In those early days, Rockingham insured primarily rural homes and farm buildings. The policy or “Certificate of Insurance” shown here was issued in 1899 and lists everything from the Dwelling – valued at $1100, to a Hog Pen and a Blacksmith Shop – both valued at $15. This one page document was the whole contract and insures the owner against fire losses only. The insured was only compensated for two-thirds of whatever the agreed value shown on the contract.
The company continued to grow and adapt with the times and survived two World Wars and the Great Depression. Up until 1968, policies were sold by company employees and part-time agents, many of them farmers. In 1968, Rockingham appointed its first full-time agent, Jim Eckerd. Jim’s son, Mark, still runs the Eckerd agency today. Also in 1968, Rockingham Home Mutual merged with a company with a similar history – West Rockingham Mutual Fire which has started business in 1872.
The following year, Rockingham merged with Brethren Mutual Fire Association which had been in business since 1910. 1978 saw another merger with the Virginia Protective Association. That company had been in business since 1910. In 1985 Rockingham again grew with the acquisition of Farmers & Mechanics Benevolent Fire Insurance Association which had been doing business since 1873. And in 1991, Rockingham expanded operations into the Richmond area by acquiring Henrico Mutual Fire Insurance Company that formed in 1917.
Seeking to further spread its risk and diversify its territory, Rockingham began doing business in Pennsylvania in 2000.
A lot of things have changed since those men met in that small building in 1869. The company has experienced tremendous growth and product development. And while the company is still a major insurer of farm properties, we also offer a wide range of property and auto insurance coverages. Other things have not changed. That little building in Port Republic is still standing and Rockingham has it insured. And the commitment made in 1869 is still part of Rockingham’s philosophy, as indicated by their mission statement:
“The mission of the Rockingham Group is to be a versatile financial services company delivering sustained profitability and growth through an exceptional focus on its customers.”
These values have served the company well for 140 years and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.
Special thanks to Barbara Emswiler and Deb Van Horn of the Rockingham Group for their assistance in obtaining the images used here, as well as the information on the history of the company.