Humble Beginnings: A One-County Abstract Company
First American traces its roots to 1889, when Orange County, California—a rural, undeveloped area at the time—split off from the county of Los Angeles. Two firms opened to handle title matters in the brand-new county. Five years later, C.E. Parker, a local businessman, succeeded in merging the two competitors into a single entity. He was named president of the resulting company—Orange County Title Company—the immediate predecessor to today’s First American Title Insurance Company, the largest subsidiary of First American Financial Corporation.
During its first 70 years, the company’s growth paralleled that of Orange County—modest but steady. It earned a reputation for diligence, thoroughness and friendly, personal service. In 1924, it became one of the first abstract companies in California to qualify to issue policies of title insurance.
Donald Parker Kennedy, grandson of the founder, joined the company after finishing law school in 1948. He soon realized that the company needed to expand beyond the boundaries of the county in order to survive. In 1957, the board of directors authorized an expansion plan with the intent of becoming a powerhouse in the Southern California market. However, the decision to provide services where its existing customers had operations soon led the company far beyond California’s borders. In 1963, D.P. Kennedy was named president of the company, taking over for his uncle, George Parker. By this time, the company had changed its name to First American and was operating in four states.