Thursday, January 14, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday: Emma Petit Takes Out an Insurance Policy

The second document I have chronologically for Emma (Schafer) Petit is an insurance policy from 1901.  This is an 11"x17" piece of paper, designed to be folded in half and then as a trifold.  The writing is faint but legible.  The signatures are strong and dark.  I've underlined the parts that were handwritten on the policy.

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The Fraternal Brotherhood
Benefit Certificate
No. 11588, $2000
Emma Petit
Trinity Lodge No. 121
Age Thirty-four, Years
Class Ordinary
Rate of Assessment $1.50
This Certificate must not be delivered until the person above named has been admitted to membership and has paid the first assessment.

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No. 11588, $2000

This Certifies that Sister Emma Petit of Vallejo, Cal.
has been admitted a member of the FRATERNAL BROTHERHOOD, and that in consideration of the statements made in the application for membership, medical examination papers, and the provisions of the Constitution and Laws of the Order now in force, or that may hereafter be made by the Supreme Lodge of The Fraternal Brotherhood, which are hereby referred to and made a part of this contract, upon the faith of which the Supreme Lodge of The Fraternal Brotherhood agrees to pay at its head office in Los Angeles, California, not to exceed
Two Thousand Dollars
for total and permanent disability, and death benefits combined as follows:
     FIRST:—In the event that said member becomes Totally and Permanently disabled from either accident or disease and is thereby prevented from following any business or occupation, it agrees to pay to said member upon satisfactory proof thereof the sum of
Two Thousand Dollars
in ten equal annual payments.  Arriving at the age of Seventy Years is hereby construed to be total and permanent disability.
     SECOND:—In the event of the death of said member within two years from the date of this certificate it agrees to pay to
Mary, Camilla, and Eugene, Petit
children of said member the sum of
One Thousand Dollars
and in addition thereto, the total amount of assessments paid on this certificate, less the amount of all claims paid to said member for total and permanent disability benefits.
     THIRD:—In the event of the death of said member after two years from the date of this certificate it agrees to pay to the above named beneficiary or beneficiaries, the sum of
Two Thousand Dollars
less the amount of all claims paid to said member for total and permanent disability benefits.
     FOURTH:—Upon satisfactory proof being furnished that said member has become totally disabled, through external violent and accidental means, and is thereby entirely prevented from attending to or performing any business or occupation, it agrees to pay to said member an Accident Benefit at the rate of Ten Dollars per week, after the first week, while thus totally disabled, not to exceed twelve weeks for any one accident, provided a written notice is given to the Supreme Lodge within ten days after the occurrence of the accident.
     It is further expressly understood and agreed that no claim shall accrue under this certificate unless said member is in good standing in the Order, and not disqualified according to the Constitution and Laws prescribed from time to time by the Supreme Lodge of The Fraternal Brotherhood.
     In Witness Whereof the Supreme Lodge of The Fraternal Brotherhood has issued this certificate and has caused the same to be signed by its President and Secretary and attested by its Corporate Seal, this 15th day of March A.D. 1901.
          C. P. Dandy
          Supreme President
E. A. Beck
Supreme Secretary

I hereby accept this certificate subject to all the conditions therein named, this 2nd day of
May A.D. 1901.                     Mrs. Emma Petit.
Robt. O. Burns Witness

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The remaining leaf of the insurance policy has sections for "Application for Change of Beneficiary" and "Application for Decrease", both of which have not been filled out.

Emma mentioned three children in her handwritten narrative but didn't name them.  Now we know who they are!  It will be interesting to see whether Mary, Camilla, and Eugene show up in later documents.

We learn here that Emma had returned to the United States.  The last we heard from her, she was in Dieuze with her husband's parents.  She had mentioned Florida but not California, so it was surprising to find her in Vallejo.

There's no indication of why Emma took out an insurance policy at this time.  I don't know if she was going to be traveling, if she was worried about a situation with her husband (Emile Petit), or if she was just thinking about the welfare of her children.  I'd like to think that she was simply being a good mother.  I did notice that Emile's name doesn't appear anywhere on the document.

I was amused to see that reaching the age of 70 was considered "total and permanent disability."  Some things have changed over the years.

I tried to find information about the Fraternal Brotherhood, but not much seems to exist online.  A 1905 photograph of their offices in Los Angeles is online on Wikimedia and USC's digital library.  A small feature piece about the organization appeared in the Los Angeles Financier of October 3, 1906, and a short article about the organization's history was published in the Los Angeles Herald on March 29, 1908.  And it is included in a listing of fraternal benefit orders on Wikipedia; it existed from 1896 to at least 1923 and apparently had a "secret ritual, passwords, grips and signs."  The Brotherhood seems to have had a decent reputation, at least.  Well, if you ignore the secret ritual stuff.

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