Eliphalet Adams Bulkeley (1803 – 1872)

Eliphalet Bulkeley

Born in Colchester, Connecticut, Eliphalet Adams Bulkeley graduated from Yale University in 1824 and became a lawyer. Bulkeley was a good businessman whose accomplishments include serving as president of the East Haddam Bank, serving two terms in the senate, serving as school-fund commissioner, and serving as speaker of the house for the state legislature.

In 1846, Bulkeley assisted with establishing the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company – the first life insurance company in Connecticut – and became its president. A year later, Bulkeley became director and general counsel of the Aetna Insurance Company, which offered fire insurance. In 1850, Bulkeley helped establish and managed a subsidiary within Aetna Insurance Company that offered life insurance policies – it was called the Annuity Fund. Within three years, the company had grown into the Aetna Life Insurance Company and Bulkeley was named president.

The Aftermath of the Chicago Fire of 1871

Ultimately, Bulkeley is credited with building a financially sound company that was able to survive the insurance claim demands of the Chicago fire disaster of 1871. Eleven companies in Connecticut had written insurance policies covering life and property in Chicago. The fire resulted in seven of eleven companies going out of business.  While Aetna witnessed its capital reduced by half as a result of the fire claims, the company was able to pay every claim as committed and stayed in business.

Bulkeley died nearly four months to the day after the Chicago fire of 1871 at the age of 68. It was February 13, 1872, and he went to work like it was any other day. Bulkeley died at his desk in his office at the Aenta Life Insurance Company.

Famous Americans. Eliphalet Adams Bulkeley. Accessed at http://famousamericans.net/eliphaletadamsbulkeley/ on August 19, 2010.
Walsh, James. P. “Eliphalet Adams Bulkeley.” Connecticut’s Heritage Gateway.  Accessed at
http://www.ctheritage.org/encyclopedia/ct1818_1865/bulkeley.htm on August 19, 2010.
Wikipedia. Eliphalet Adams Bulkeley. Accessed at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliphalet_Adams_Bulkeley on August 19, 2010.

Photo Credit: Eliphalet Bulkeley, Public Domain; Chicago Fire of 1871, Public Domain