From Galveston to Global
Stewart Title Company began in Galveston in 1893 when Maco Stewart, a young Galveston attorney, purchased the Gulf City Abstract Company. Maco Stewart continued to issue abstracts through the Stewart Law and Land Title Office until 1905, when he and Minor Stewart offered the first title insurance in Texas in the form of an indemnity against loss due to title claims.
William H. Stewart's three sons, Maco, Minor and Clegg, would all play major roles in the company's development. W.C. Morris, a significant player in Stewart's history, joined the company in 1897 as a stenographer, and later married William's only daughter Wilamina (Willie).
Two major historical events helped shape the young company: the great Galveston hurricane of 1900 and the discovery of oil in Beaumont in 1901. Both accelerated the need for accurate land documentation in Texas.
Chartered in 1908, Stewart Title Guaranty Company is the first title insurance underwriter authorized to write title insurance in Texas. The company soon began growing, opening offices in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso and other cities under the leadership of W. C. Morris.
The year 1956 marked Stewart Title's expansion beyond Texas, beginning with an office in New Mexico. By 1960 the company also had established offices and agencies in Arizona, California, Florida and Louisiana under the leadership of Stewart Morris Sr.
Stewart's efforts to increase efficiency and accuracy passed another milestone in 1965, when the company established its first affiliation with a computerized title plant in Los Angeles. Two years later Stewart helped form another computerized plant in Houston. Today most of Stewart's plants are on ever-improving, highly productive systems.
Stewart Information Services Corporation
In 1970, the holding company Stewart Information Services Corporation was formed, setting the stage to expand Stewart's operations into the broader arena of Real Estate Information. The company began to trade publicly in 1972. One year later a new corporate office was built in Houston.
Brothers Carloss and Stewart Morris Sr., who had led the expansion of the company since their father's death in 1950, acquired management control of the company in 1975. With an infusion of $2.4 million in 1977, the company invested in the development of computer services for the title industry, mapping operations and real estate information.
By 1981, Stewart policies were being issued through more than 1,000 issuing offices in 38 states. Six years later, that number would grow to more than 2,000 offices throughout the United States. In 1986 Stewart was named one of the 101 best performing companies in the U.S., with revenues of $178 million.
At the same time, Stewart affiliate Landata Geo Services won contracts in the Caribbean, Egypt, Morocco and Guatemala for geographic information systems and aerial photography, marking the beginning of the enhancement of international public records systems. Stewart began the 1990s with 2,700 offices issuing policies in all 50 states. In 1992 Stewart Information International was formed to coordinate all of the company's international endeavors.
In 1994 Stewart Information Services was listed on the New York Stock Exchange under ticker symbol STC, and it was the first stock quoted on the New York Exchange on the first day of trading in 1995.
Stewart was included in Fortune magazine's list of the 100 fastest growing companies in 1998 and again in 1999. Also in 1999 Stewart made Forbes "Platinum 400" list of America's best-performing big companies. That same year, Carloss' and Stewart Sr.'s sons, Malcolm and Stewart Morris Jr., were elected co-CEOs of Stewart Information Services Corporation. Malcolm and Stewart Jr. both had held significant positions in the company since 1975, and had been in charge of the company's core businesses since 1991.
Today Stewart Information Services Corporation is a technology driven, strategically competitive, global real estate information company, providing title insurance and related information services through more than 6,900 issuing locations in the United States and around the world....(cont.) services required for settlement using e-commerce. These services include title reports, flood determinations, property appraisals, surveys, document preparation, property reports and background checks. Stewart also supplies post-closing services to lenders, automated county clerk land records and GIS for governmental entities. Stewart continually applies new technology to achieve its mission of enhancing the real estate transaction process. The result is a finer closing experience for its customers. With the prognosis for continued strong real estate sales and lending volumes, Stewart's investment in developing leading technology is seen as key to its future.