Notable Phelps Family Members
Dr. Guy Rowland Phelps, Founder, Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company
Dr. Guy Rowland Phelps 1, b. Simsbury, Ct., 1 April, 1802, m. Hannah Latimer, 20 March, 1833. She was daughter of Capt. Wait and Hannah (Pettibone) Latimer, and was b. Simsbury, Ct., 23 June, 1801, and d. Hartford Ct., 28 May, 1873. Dr. Phelps graduated at Yale Medical College in class of 1825, settled in New York City for two years, then removed to Simsbury, Ct., where he practiced until after the birth of his first child, when he removed to Hartford, Ct., where he d. 8 March, 1869. He was the founder of the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co.
|Dr. Guy Rowland Phelps|
Soon after Dr. Phelps settled in Hanford he took out an insurance Policy on his life of $5,000. The life insurance business at this time was in its infancy in a crude state, and many did not favor it. This with his enfeebled health probably led him to thoroughly examine the business in which he became greatly interested. He was eight years in perfecting and arranging his plans and in getting up a charter for his company which he had decided to establish. After this he was two years in securing this charter from the Conn. state legislators, many of whom considered his scheme as impracticable. Finally in 1846 the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co. was chartered. [Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance was merged with Massachusetts Mutual in 1996.]
Dr. Phelps, seeing the necessity of a guarantee fund to protect the policy holders and make his company's operations successful, finally succeeded in getting the president of the Aetna Fire Insurance Co., with others, to raise a guarantee sum of $50,000, thus putting his company in a good financial working condition. Under Dr. Phelps's plus and organization the workings of the Company was very successful and profitable and during the first twenty years nearly all the insurance companies in the state had adopted his plan of working.
It is said that for a time Dr. Phelps was the only active working man in the office and over 100 of the first policies were taken out by his friends during this time. Shortly before his death, in 1869, he remarked to his family that he had just completed his 23rd annual report for his stockholders and found an accumulated Capital of over $23,000,000 such that the company was in a condition to care for itself for the next 25 years without assistance.
After the draft riot in New York City, Dr. Phelps was asked how a policy on the life of a soldier called out to quell a riot was affected in his company. He answered in his characteristic way that a policy on a soldier called out to quell a mob, and was ordered to fire, fired into the mob, the policy would not be affected, but if he fired over their heads the premium would be increased threefold.
Dr. Phelps was a man of marked individuality, of deep and intense convictions, with a magnetism that drew, and held man to him wide from consideration of personal government. He was a scholar well versed in legal as well as medical jurisprudence and was held in high esteem by his townsmen. During the administration of the affairs of his company, for over 23 years, he was in all questions of importance considered the court of final appeal. He died respected and loved by his fellow townsmen.
1 Excerpted from The Phelps Family of America and Their English Ancestors, (Save $201 by ordering through us.) Two volumes. By Judge Oliver Seymour Phelps and Andrew T. Servin. (Eagle Publishing Company of Pittsfield, Mass., 1899), Vol. 2.