Williams-Manny Insurance was founded in 1896 by Henry “Hank” Williams who began his insurance career as an employee of the Rockford Fire Insurance Company. At the age of 25 he launched his own firm using his mother’s sewing machine stand as a desk. Hank had a weakness for plaid flannel shirts, Windsor ties and wide brimmed felt hats. He was known for his creativity, and was known to follow passing lumber trucks to find out who was building a house or factory and then would write the insurance on it.
Henry “Hank” Williams “An avid photographer, he captured one of the best fire shots of the era – of Rockford’s Second Congregational Church as flames leaped through its upper floor windows in 1894. He was paid $25 by the Chicago Tribune for two prints and an accompanying story; and an illustration of the photograph appeared on his agency’s letterhead for fifty years.”
Within 6 years he represented more than 3 dozen insurers and his increasing volume of work allowed him to hire his first solicitor, Frank Wormwood, who later became partner.
In 1908 Dwight Manny, a banking professional joined the firm briefly before moving briefly to Oklahoma. Upon his return to Rockford he rejoined the firm in 1913 as partner and the firm was named “Williams-Manny Company”. It should be noted that Dwight Manny was the grandson of John P. Manny, inventor of the reaper who prevailed, with Abraham Lincoln as associate counsel, in a patent infringement suit brought by Cyrus McCormick). The Manny family had deep roots in the Rockford area, once owning the mansion located at 737 N Main Street which is the present day location of the Burpee Museum, once called the Manny Mansion.
Williams-Manny Insurance became a member of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce in the year 1921.
The agency remained in 2 locations for much of its existence including the 2nd floor of the Rockford Trust building on State and Main St. and the 6th floor of the Joisted Masonry Brown Building. In the years 1974 – 1989 the firm had offices at 1111 S. Alpine Road on the 4th Floor.
Henry Williams died in 1945 and Dwight Manny died in 1964 at the age of 87, his final resting place is the Greenwood Cemetery in Rockford, Illinois.