Tuesday, May 5, 2009

those crass insurance companies

Click image to embiggen.

On April 12, 1899, Alfred Cranford was allegedly murdered (and his wife, Mittie, raped) by Sam Hose, who would pay with his life in one of the most horrific lynchings in Georgia history. One of the generally unknown parts of that horrible story is the way the life insurance company used the event for advertising.

This ad, from the Atlanta Constitution, May 19, 1899, contains a letter from Mittie Cranford thanking the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York for its prompt and courteous payment of the claim. "I can truthfully say that the beneficent results of life insurance were never more fittingly bestowed than in my case," she wrote, "as this policy comes like a god-send to assist me in educating and bringing up my four little children."

My favorite part: the box in the upper right corner. "A Side Light on the Cranford-Hose Tragedy / The Thoughtful Husband -- The Thankful Widow." "A Splendid Investment"! For a $2,000 policy, Alfred Cranford paid only $84 in premiums, giving a "Profit over Cost" of $1,916.