Bodkin Abstract Company, 1934 – 2014
Thirty years ago, Feb. 1984, “A Short History” was written by Thomas J. Le Hew, describing how Herman M. Bodkin, with a background in law and abstracting, decided to establish an independent abstract office to serve the community. Story has it the Kosciusko Abstract Company, (est. in 1899) dominated the field. Bodkin showed itself to be a fierce competitor, unlike others that had come and gone.
This was 1934…the height of the Great Depression, when Herman Bodkin started his business in Warsaw, IN. A copy of this short history can be found at the current Bodkin Abstract office.
Fast forward now to 1968…a young lady from Chapman Lake began working for Warsaw Abstract Corp., (est. 1947). By 1977, Sharon Hile and co-worker Julie Detterman purchased the Warsaw Abstract. In the meantime, a young man from Indianapolis, had returned from the service and joined the staff at Kosciusko Abstract. Co., in 1978. Soon after getting to know “the girls”, Bob invited Sharon and Julie out to dinner at the “Top of the Inn” restaurant in Warsaw. (Bodkin Abstract was for sale at the time.) On February 14, 1979, Sharon and Julie purchased Bodkin. On March 12, Sharon and Julie signed an agreement with Bob to manage Bodkin. On March 28, 1981, Bob and Sharon were married. One year later, Kosciusko Abstract came up for sale, Bob and Sharon purchased it as well. Shortly after, Warsaw Abstract was dissolved by Sharon and Julie, which left Bodkin Abstract as the main abstract title company in Warsaw. Bodkin houses all title history for the county. All records and equipment of Kos. Co. Abstract were moved to the Bodkin location in Warsaw.
In 1983, Bob and Sharon opened their Syracuse office. Albion Abstract was purchased by the couple this year also. Sharon’s son Mark began working for Bodkin in 1991, worked at the Albion office for 2 years and then in October 2001 returned to Syracuse, and is still there today.
Later in 1995, following a bout with cancer, Bob decided to sell the Albion office. Bob then focused on a Title Plant within Bodkin, where they would keep recorded documents from the courthouse and they would be safer and could pull them faster than at the courthouse.
In 1998, other title companies started moving into Warsaw. Bodkin continued to be the leader. In 2001, Bob and Sharon purchased the Wabash Title Co, known as “the oldest title company in Wabash, since 1857”. Title Insurance has become a big part of the title business. Bob shared that home owners should always hang on to their title insurance documents, even if they no longer own that home.
Bob explained that it is up to the realtors to promote Bodkin for them. Buyers need to know all the issues with the property, and Bodkin has all the history. Bob commented, “We work for the best in the industry…because the best come to us.”
Bob shared that the recent downturn in the economy has hit the abstract title company hard. Bodkin has gone from 28 employees, at one time, to now only 8. He explained that every 4 years there is a cycle. In 1983, there was a significant climb, and in 2006 a huge drop. During this last drop, Bob made sure that he assisted in helping all his employees find other work because, he stated, “This is a family business”.
Bob went on to say, that he is now waiting for the economy to turn again. He and Sharon have been in the business for over 40 years, they care about their clients and their community. Bob works out of the Warsaw office and Sharon runs the office in Syracuse.
Tom Le Hew worked for Bodkin until 1935, when he went into the service. Tom wrote, “A Short History – Story of Excellence” in 1984, as Bodkin Abstract. Co. celebrated 50 years.
Herman M. Bodkin hung himself in 1946. Mrs. Bodkin ran the business, until was incorporated and she became president until 1979, when the business was sold.