Local insurance agency celebrates 80 years



Several things came to mind when John Spurgeon was asked what has allowed Spurgeon’s Jackson County Insurance Agency Inc. to thrive for 80 years.

Longevity of the agency, good personal customer service, church and community involvement, promoting local and sponsorships.

The agent and president of the Brownstown business said for the agency to continue and thrive for another 80 years, it will take new leadership.

That’s because he worked for the agency from 1974 to 1976, returned in 1982 and has been there ever since, giving him more than 40 years of experience.

The agency traces its origins to approximately 1879 when Capt. Ralph Applewhite sold the business to George Gunder Agency.

In 1940, Spurgeon’s father, James W. Spurgeon, purchased Gunder’s agency. Twelve years later, it was incorporated as Jackson County Insurance Agency Inc.

Through the years, James acquired other agencies, including Jacob Wright’s of Medora, Turmail Agency of Vallonia and Shoemaker Agency of Vallonia and then Brownstown.

The business has represented Westfield Insurance since 1946, American States Insurance Co. (purchased by Safeco Insurance Co. and then Liberty Mutual Agency Co.) since 1940, Liberty Mutual Commercial Insurance, Fidelity and Deposit Insurance Co. (now part of Zurich North America) since the 1960s and Progressive Insurance Co. since 1992.

Insurance services include auto, business and bonds, homeowners, farm and agribusiness, life, health, accident and Medicare supplements.

The personal and commercial insurance provider services Brownstown, Seymour, Bedford, Bloomington, Columbus, North Vernon, Salem and the rest of Indiana.

After John Spurgeon worked for the agency for a few years in the 1970s, he returned to college in Missouri and stayed there a couple more years, working at RC Bottling, hotels, mortuary and radio and television stations, before coming back to Brownstown in 1982.

Andy Fountain worked there from 1977 to 1978 and then moved to Bob Thomas Chevrolet and John Moore Insurance before returning to Spurgeon’s Jackson County Insurance the same year as Spurgeon. Fountain has been an agent ever since.

Past agents include Randy Hickson and John Disque, and David Carnine has been working out of the office selling life and Medicare supplement insurance since 2008.

Current customer service representatives include Wilma Benter since 1979, Carolyn Traub since 2001 and and Rhonda Robinson since 2019.

Spurgeon said Dora Goforth and Esther “Hap” Ball worked at the agency for more than 40 years.

Past customer service representatives include Erica Hocking, Vickie Burrell, Angela Johnson, Gail Henderson, Elsie Pollert, Cheryl Mann Stuckwish, Brenda Tormoehlen, Betty Bowling, Beverly McKinney Denny, Pat Cummings, Helen Johnson, Holly Dame, Teresa Brewer, Joni Olson, Teresa Weir, Peggy Hanner and Wanda Earley.

Spurgeon said they had plans to celebrate the 80th anniversary, but the COVID-19 pandemic makes it difficult to have an open house right now.

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