American GIs were marching across the European and Pacific theatres of World War II when the first insurance policies of Kentucky Farm Bureau were sold in Murray-Calloway County. The year was 1944 and Mr. Harvey Dixon was the first Kentucky Farm Bureau insurance salesperson in our community.
But the organization's local history started years before when the Calloway County Farm Bureau Federation filed its constitution and by-laws at the courthouse in 1925. At this time, Farm Bureau did not sell insurance products and only lobbied for pro-agriculture issues. Mr. L.C. James was president. The organization's purpose was to represent the interests of Calloway farmers, "by seeking to improve our community's schools, to stabilize farm prices and to study means for reducing the cost of agricultural production."
Of course, reaching such ambitious goals took financial funding, so each member-family was charged $5.00 a year with 50 cents of that amount be allocated to the state organization, the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation (formed in 1919). The earliest available records show that 73 Calloway farm families belonged in 1938. However, the need for increased membership in all the counties of the Commonweath resulted in the decision to offer insurance services on a statewide basis in 1944. Now non-farm and farm families alike were supporting "the goal of affordable groceries" through their paid memberships in Farm Bureau when they purchased the organization's competitive insurance products.
Back in downtown Murray, Mr. Dixon opened an office at 209 Maple Street and he felt the need to expand services by hiring Ray Broach as an additional sales agent in 1959. Harvey Dixon passed away suddenly a few months later.
Due to a growing number of customer/members, in 1968 the office moved to 309 South 5th Street, the former home of the Max Churchill Funeral Home. Then in 1979, the Board of Directors authorized construction of a new facility at 310 South 4th Street across the street from Lovett's Gulf/BP gas station. Carmon Parks, local agriculture teacher/farmer served numerous consecutive terms as president of the Calloway Farm Bureau Board during this time period. Ray and Terry Broach were sales agents with Terry transferring to the Kentucky Farm Bureau Claims Division in 1987 and Ray retiring in 1997.
However by the mid-1990s, the Directors saw the need for yet an even larger facility and purchased approximately four acres on the Bypass just west of the Murray State University football stadium and Regional Special Events Center. In 2001 the Calloway County Farm Bureau contracted the Cleaver Construction Company of Murray to build an ultra-modern 5,000 square foot facility at 1702 Highway 121-Bypass. The business presently provides competitive home, auto, farm, boat, health, bank and investment products to over 4,000 families in the Murray-Calloway County Community as well as houses the Calloway County Farm Bureau Federation offices.
Current agency manager Bob Cornelison has been with the firm since 1985. Career Agent Stuart Alexander joined the business in 1997. Of course, the agency could not have prospered without the dedicated work of longtime Customer Service Representatives: Mary Elizabeth Ezell, Denie Cutrer, Martha Broach, Hilda Jo Rogers, Marilyn Thornton, Deanna Canter, Judy Walker, Leigh McCoart, Stefanie Borders Collins, Stephanie Miller Kelly, Deanna Robinson, Alesia Irvin, Vicky Lambert, Carolyn Marshall, Betty Peters, Casey Cornelison and others.
Adjusters who served over the years were Cody Caldwell, Larry Simms, James Gibson, David Heathcott and Danny Brittain.
And yes, we still have our agricultural roots! A review of Calloway County Farm Bureau's minutes over the years reveal the names of several "local farm families" that keep serving their profession throughout the passing decades - such as the Burchetts, Carraways, Cunninghams, Feltners, Furches', Geurins, Herndons, Overbeys, Parks, Paschalls, Potts, Pucketts, Smiths, Smothermans, Stahlers, Stockdales, Taylors, Thorns, Winters, Workmans and others.
The statewide organization as well as the local operation are run by a Board of Directors made up of agricultural professionals who share the same goals of their predecessors - good schools, stable farm prices, reduced production costs, quality insurance/investment services and perhaps most importantly, affordable food for everyone!
Sources: "Seventy-Five Years of KY Farm Bureau (1919-1994)"; C.C.F.B. Constitution and By-Laws (dated 1925); C.C.F.B. minutes (various years).