In the summer of 1905, 22 interested parties gathered at the home of John E. Paul, to discuss the formation of a fraternal order. Less than a year later, "The Homesteaders" emerged with the purpose of providing insurance benefits to its members for final expenses.
Policy Certificate Number One was issued in Paul's name on February 23, 1906. Elected the association's first president, Paul declared a theme of "neighborly cooperation, fraternity, mutual helpfulness, protection and patriotism." While Homesteaders was still in its infancy, the leadership of this new society would face one of the most profound periods of economic strife, war and social unrest in American history. Through it all - World War I, the flu epidemic of 1919, and the "Crash of '29" - Homesteaders paid every claim without a single additional assessment or increase in premium. These early tests of our resolve became a benchmark of the tradition of strength that exists yet today.
As a mutual insurance company, Homesteaders is dedicated to ensuring the security of policyholders' funeral funds. Today we offer a full range of funeral funding products including funeral insurance and funeral trust. Highly personalized memorial events are now the choice of many families, and Homesteaders continues to take a leadership role in helping funeral homes to become proactive in meeting families' changing funeral care needs.
It’s all about promoting the value of funeral service – and a strong advance funeral planning program supported by Homesteaders can make all the difference!
Pictured above: Gold Dome Pilgrimage, a digital collage by Ken Haas
The Homesteaders, a fraternal society with a mission to provide insurance for final expenses, opened for business. The first policy was issued to Supreme President John E. Paul. Within just a few days, 500 membership applications were received.
George A. Young was elected Supreme President. The Homesteaders made substantial progress in the years that followed, with membership increasing to nearly 20,500. Homesteaders lodges formed across the Midwest, as far south as Arkansas and as far west as Washington state.
The Homesteaders’ third Supreme President, Harry J. Green, was elected and began rebuilding the organization to secure its future. During a time when many fraternal organizations faced financial challenges, Green developed a strong, stable organization.
Having paid all claims through the challenges and uncertainty of the First World War and the influenza pandemic, The Homesteaders became a bona fide life insurance company and changed its name to Homesteaders Life Association.
Homesteaders was operating coast to coast as Arthur A. Ball became president. He brought Homesteaders’ Funeral Benefit Policy to the forefront of the marketplace. Under his leadership, the association mutualized and became what is known today as Homesteaders Life Company.
Homesteaders became a more contemporary financial services organization under the direction of President Paul N. Mantz. The Board of Directors approved a plan to build a freestanding home office in Des Moines, Iowa where the company operated for the next 52 years.
The company experienced steady growth as James O. Wilson became president. He had the conviction and foresight to build on Homesteaders’ roots in the final expense/burial business. Homesteaders’ first prearranged funeral contract was funded under his leadership in 1984.
Homesteaders’ new president, Daniel M. Voecks brought a warm, personal leadership style. He helped establish Homesteaders’ account executive program, the catalyst of the company’s transformation into a funeral home-focused pre-need funding leader.
Graham J. Cook was elected president, and brought with him a leadership style that promoted open dialogue with stakeholders. His commitment to maintaining long-term business relationships helped the company achieve substantial growth in a highly competitive market.
Homesteaders Life Company’s campus in West Des Moines, Iowa was transformed into the Healing Field of Central Iowa. This inspiring memorial to the victims of September 11, 2001 was visited by more than 30,000 people.
Led by President and CEO Stephen M. Shaffer, who succeeded Stephen R. Lang in 2018, Homesteaders remains committed to promoting the value of funeral service. Thousands of funeral professionals and the families they serve rely on the company for secure pre-need funding.