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The Pennsylvania Craze

The Pennsylvania Craze image
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Public Domain
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"IIow is yonr man ';" is the new form of of snliitittion in Ptnnsylvanla. ïthasbeén suggested by tbe graveyard Insurance -- tcin, :md has raferenoe to the subject 'inaured. If' I moet afriend who ia probably CieS OU UiC'lVvWtir ÏH1W. imivum!, JtóiVl, t is hoped, will ptesently die, I ask liim', " IIow is your man? " jurt to manifest au interest in hls fortunes. The question is asked from onc end of the state to the other with as much nonchalance as thmigh the people were inquirlng atter the coniutlbu of tilt' (TOpS. The sharks, jaekals. and agenta of the business are constantly Increaslng, and some of the companies, in order to stinuilate industry, are offering gold watchea as premiums for the larLest nuniber of riks thatcan be reported iu which the competitors fairly jostle each other at the doon ét old people who are expected todie, sliortly. The jackal Í9 the latest dfivelopment of the business. He does not write policies or take risks. It is his duty to visit tlie offices of the various doctors and aseertain the names, addresses, and condition of such patients as are near the grave. These are lurned to good account in tbe speculatlve policy depurtinent, and pay handsomeU . They ara reported by the jackal to a syndltate, which usures the shaky BUbjects sometinies in as many as lillv Companle. The business luis now reached sucli a Btaap that the signatures of the Insured to applicationa are not required. Some time ago they were required, and a good deal of aunoyance was catued to dytng persons iiy tli i..%-., -ion ai iliietius benl on muking invasions. Now tliese minere-sul v details ure dispensad with. Fou piek OUl yonr man, and take a pollcy on Mis lile, uiiless you prefer a ready-mude. pollcy, in wliicli case you will huve to pay aocording to the prospect of the early demUe of the subject Tlie business is carried on so boldlv, and tiy persons so nnseruimlous, that the. eonimunity is quite nervous over it. Boine decent inen have allowed themselves to be led into it, under the belief that it eould be honorably comdneted, but it is safe to lay they are very few. Most of the people who have died here recently have been extravagnntly insured. On tlie lite of Constable John Quinnan, a one-armed man, who died ia Hyde Park a few days ago, there were, it Is said, policies for no less than $50,000, niostly held by strangers. Quinnan, who was a yoang man, was sick for some time before lus death, and some of the policy holden sent him boules of wine, whisky, and brandy day after day. The doctor linally protested, but the protest did llttle Lood. In the same part of tlie city uu old man named Michael Toohil died suddenly a short time aro. A Jbarber was sent for to sliave him. and tliought he saw inarks of Itmogulatton on Tooliil'a neck. He communicated with ('hief of Pólice Delacy, and tlie tugpicloa of foiil pliiy was (trengthened eonshJerably by tlie fait that Tooh'il's life wa ii.sjired, fo'rslil) (MHI. (Joroiier Leel disecivered tliat deatli 111 tlus case was due to natural causes. He tells me, however, that he is confident that -e erul old persons have been fonlly dealt with for the sake of the insiiranee moncv. As assessmentsjbecome more frequent and inoney becotnes. scarcer with tlie poliey holder, it will be a dangerous thlos to be a subject. An old gentleman nained "Doe Roberts '" diseovered the other day that various speculators had $90,000 on his lite, and lias been afraid tojleave his house alter ilark ever sinee. "Theyare fooled," hesaid, 'these fellows wlio think L'm gplog to die. I will Uve longer than theirgruveyard companies, and now I will take all the care I Dan of myself." The science of makinjr assessments is an important feature of the business. If a man takes a policy on some old person's lile, he probobly receives notice a tew days later of the deuth of 5 or 10 old persons. Ón a thousand-dolhir pollcy the assessinent is a dollar and a quarter for each deatli, it will be seen that tlie tax is enornioiis. homo of the companies liever print tindate of a death on their asspssinent notiecs, and a man who reccived a poliey yestèrday is liable to reeeive a notice to lay aiewlllg him for persons who died a nionth or two before bewas legally subjeel to assesment. One eompany has pressed this feature of the traffic so Car that the poliey lioid already revolting, and tbreatcn legal proeeedirifis against it. The prosecution will be assisted by some of the rival graveyard conipanies. Many poor policy holders are unable to pay their store bilis beeause the assessnieuts take up all tlieir eurninj;s. To neglect or refuse the paytnent of an assessinent is enough to ibrfell u poliey, and a man who expeots his subject to die any moment is nol willing to take such a risk. It is a study to visit the office of a general agent in business hours and listen to the (juestions by whieh the great man is plled. "Did anyliody die to-ilay, sir. in the Golden Angel (jraveyard Insurance Companyf" and "Do you think anybody will die soon in 1 1 1 - (ates Ajar Assessinent ( 'ompaiiy '.'" are umDDg the questions commonly askcd. Tlien therc are c'oniilaints COBCerillng tlie frequency of ass'ssnieiit. "His ohly last week tbat 1 paid $10, and how is it that I haveanother notice to-day ?" askedan Irate and impecunious poliey holder of the "Safe and öure" eompany yestèrday. "Why. thafs your luek," said the suave agent. "When your man dies somebody else will have to be assessed to make up yourthousand. and that's how it goes." "Have you any letter for me in there?" said a poorly lad laborer at the post office this ïnorning, addinif: "I thought there mlght be one from the insurance eompany to-day." He proliably expected notice that bis man was dead, and he will be likely to usk the same question every day for a month. The business i booming now, but a grand collapse may be expected any tlay, when some miserable pollcy holder, anxious to realize on his iiivestment, takes the destiny of his "subject'1 into his own hands.


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News