Created By: Coleman Memorial Museum
67 W. Main - Crabtree Insurance
Duane E. Geer came to Ellendale from Cortland, NY, in 1882 as a surveyor for the government working with Thomas F. Marshall, later a congressman from North Dakota. One of the earliest settlers of Ellendale, he established a real estate and insurance business. From this original business evolved Crabtree Insurance Agency, Inc.
In 1904, Mr. Geer built the red brick building at 79 Main Street. The agency remained at this location until 1959 when it was moved to its present location at 67 Main Street. In 1913, Dwight W. Crabtree, son-in-law of Duane E. Geer, joined the firm and worked with Mr. Geer until the latter's death in 1927. At that time, the business became the property of his widow, Etta M. Geer.
In 1944, Dwight W. Crabtree acquired ownership of the business and operated as sole proprietor. In 1945, John D. Crabtree returned to Ellendale from military service to join his father in the business. In 1950, Dwight died, leaving the business to his widow, Maude Crabtree. The firm was purchased by John D. Crabtree in 1950. The agency was changed in July 1963 from a sole proprietorship to a corporation with John D. Crabtree, Sylvia E. Crabtree and Allan J. Wedell as stockholders.
In 1964, the firm purchased the Christianson Insurance Agency in Oakes, NO. Allan J. Wedell managed this branch of the agency until it was sold in 1970 to the First National Bank of Oakes at which time he resigned to enter the teaching profession. In September 1976, Dwight E. Crabtree, son of John D. Crabtree, became an employee, moving from Kansas City, MO, where he had been employed by the St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company for the previous five years.
On July 1, 1981, Dwight purchased the agency, thus becoming the fourth generation of the family to operate Crabtree Insurance Agency, Inc. In November of 1987, Grant Crabtree joined the business as an employee and manager as Dwight pursued another career path. Grant currently manages the business.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Ellendale - Tour of the Core City