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The Spirit of 1906   By:

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This eBook was produced by David Schwan .

Geo. W. Brooks, Secretary and Treasurer, Founder of the Company as reorganized in the year 1905

The Spirit of 1906

By George W. Brooks Founder of the California Insurance Company (as reorganized in the year 1905) and who has continuously occupied the position of Secretary and Managing Underwriter with the Corporation since that date.

Published by the California Insurance Company of San Francisco 1921

Copyright 1921 By Geo. W. Brooks

Dedicated to the Directors and Shareholders of the California Insurance Company in 1906 who so nobly, at their own financial cost, did their "Big Bit."

"On fame's eternall beadroll worthie to be fyled." Spenser


Whatever of effort has been given in the pleasant pastime of writing these rambling and sketchy pages of reminiscences is dedicated to those who in the hours of trial and tribulation felt with Sir Philip Sidney, "Honor is the idol of man's mind" and determined to do that which honor demanded knowing that if they lost their honor they lost their all.

Reading between these lines, it is hoped there will be found some intimation, some outline, of the character of the men who composed the directors and stockholders of the California Insurance Company, who acted well their part, who fought the good fight and held the faith, whose stern sense of duty and heroic courage led them to lay upon the altar of their idealism the financial sacrifices which they made.

Theirs is the honor achieved. They neither faltered nor hesitated in upholding and protecting their own individual good name, the fair name of the Company nor the integrity of the financial institutions of California, and they, like Bacon "May leave their name and memory to man's charitable speeches, to the next age and foreign nations."

The Spirit of 1906

The California Insurance Company having played one of the leading parts in the reconstruction of San Francisco following the disaster of 1906 and there being no record of its activities, I have, after insistent and repeated requests from directors, stockholders and others, finally yielded to their importunities to preserve for reference my impressions and memories of that most important crisis ever known to fire insurance.

From the time when Nero played the violin accompaniment to the burning of Rome, down, through the ages, to 5:15 a. m., April 18, 1906, and up to the present date, the San Francisco disaster is the most prominent recorded in history. It was the greatest spectacular drama ever staged and produced the biggest heap of the "damn'dest, finest ruins" the world has ever seen.

In transferring the records from the tablets of my memory to the printed page, I am dealing with accurate historical facts of the California Insurance Company together with my own impressions. The facts and figures regarding the Company are incontrovertible. My own impressions are but those which were felt by thousands of other San Franciscans in a greater or lesser or more varying degree. These may be taken as merely the local color, the object being to set forth for enduring vision, the splendid performances of honorably disposed fire insurance companies amongst which none discharged to policyholders the liabilities under their contracts with any greater sense of equity, honor and liberality than did the California Insurance Company.

The Morning of April 18th

In common with the other half million citizens of San Francisco on that fateful morning, I was awakened from a sound sleep by a continuous and violent shaking and oscillation of my bed. I was bewildered, dazed, and only awakened fully when my wife suddenly screamed, "Earthquake!" It was a whopper, bringing with it a ghastly sensation of utter and absolute helplessness and an involuntary prayer that the vibrations might cease. Short as was the period of the earth's rocking, it seemed interminable, and the fear that the end would never come dominated the prayer and brought home with tremendous import the realization of our insignificance, of what mere atoms we become when turned on the wheel of destiny in the midst of such abnormal phenomena of nature's forces... Continue reading book >>

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