History of Banks in Adams County, Nebraska
From: Past and Present Adams County, Nebraska
Edited by: Judge William R. Burton
Assisted by David J. Lewis
Published By: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago 1916


Early banking in Adams County was conducted through private enterprises. Probably the first institution was that of A. H. Bowen and James Laird who began banking operations in connection with their law business in Juniata This was in 1873. A section of the law office was partitioned off for banking purposes and the equipment was one of extreme simplicity. This enterprise was conducted by the two lawyers for only a few months.

During the latter part of 1873 or early in 1874 J. J. Worswick associated with a man by the name of Wells launched a banking enterprise at Hastings. The firm of J. J. Worswick & Company was the first banking institution to operate in Hastings. The St. Joseph & Grand Island Railroad, then called the St. Joseph & Denver City, terminated in Hastings and Mr. Worswiek opened his bank for the purpose of financing the extending of the railroad to Grand Island. The firm failed in its enterprise in about a year after its opening. This bank was located on First Street at the rear of the lot which is now 101 North Denver Avenue. Worswick was an Englishman, jovial, and a lover of hunting. He returned to England following the collapse of his prairie venture, and his partner returned to Omaha.

During this year, however, 1873, there was established a bank destined to survive the uncertainties of the new country and to continue its life unbrokenly until the affairs of the county reached a state of stability. This was the Adams County Bank, which was the beginning of the present First National Batik. This bank was organized late in the year 1873 by J. S. McIntyre who came to Hastings from Clarinda, Iowa.

The vicissitudes of the early banks only reflected the uncertainties of the earlier settlers. There was a demand for loans to develop the young county but the nature of the securities and the problematical state of the future tended to send interest rates soaring, and this condition continued more or less until after the drought of 1894 and the partial droughts of other years. Not until after the introduction of winter wheat as one of the principal crops of the community did affairs become stable. In the period extending from about 1878 to about 1885 interest on farm loans ran as high as 12 per cent per annum, while interest on chattel mortgages ranged from one to four per cent per month.

On more than one occasion bankers were at their wit's ends in grappling with the problems confronting them. The low prices and crop failures prevailing around 1894 and 1896 caused some of the farmers so much discouragement that they were disposed to yield their farms to meet the mortgages which they bore, and in some instances bankers of the county purchased supplies for their customers in order to tide them over to the better times which the more courageous felt sure were lying just ahead. When the Adams County Bank, the forerunner of the First National, was purchased by A. L. Clarke and George H. Pratt, some five years after its opening in 1873, the deposits in the institution aggregated between Sevens and eight thousand dollars. In the statement issued by the First National May 1, 1916, the deposits are given as $1,727,236.18. This growth in deposits marks the development of the country in wealth and the consequent establishment of business confidence.

The deposits of the three national banks of Hastings - the First National, the German National and the Exchange National - as shown by their statements made February 28, 1896, aggregated $381,885.42. Ten years later, November 12, 1906, the statements of the same three banks show aggregate deposits of $2,101,217.76, while the total of the deposits in the four banks operating in Hastings at that time amounted to $2,307,141.49. On May 1, 1916, deposits in the four banks of Hastings - the First National, German National, Exchange National and the Bank of Commerce, totalled $3,484,038.20. On the same date about three thousand two hundred dollars was on deposit in the Postal Savings Bank. The Bank Register of the Credit Company of New York gave the total deposits in the ten Adams County banks operating in towns outside of Hastings at $790,000 in June, 1915. From the insignificant deposits of the private banks of the county established in 1873 the aggregate in 1916 is considerable in excess of four and one quarter millions of dollars, distributed among fourteen banks all of which bear evidence of being upon a thoroughly stable basis. Taking the 1915 statements of the banks outside of Hastings, and the May 1, 1916. statements of the latter, the aggregate of the deposits is $4,274,038.20, to which must be added about three thousand two hundred dollars representing the deposits in the Postal Savings Bank.

The Adams County Bank which was organized in the latter part of 1873 by J. S. McIntyre was located in a small frame building in Hastings. It fronted east on Hastings Avenue at about the location of the present First National Bank Building. In the early days two men were able to attend to the business of the bank. Mr. McIntyre sold the bank to George Hazzard and in 1877 it was converted into a stock company. The principal stockholders were George Wilkins, Samuel Alexander and Oswald Oliver. Soon afterward it was purchased by A. L. Clarke and George H. Pratt and in 1881 it was reincorporated as the First National Bank with a capital of $25,000. In 1879 the frame building was supplanted by a two story building built of red brick and erected at a cost of about eight thousand dollars. The red brick building was torn down in 1903 and the present building was erected at a cost of $40,000.

It was in 1902 that the First National Bank purchased the Adams County Bank which had been opened April 2, 1886, with William Kerr, president; J. M. Sewell, vice president and O. G. Smith, cashier. This bank was located at the southeast corner of Lincoln Avenue and Second Street, the present location of the Bank of Commerce. While bearing the same name as the bank preceding the First National and out of which the latter grew, Mr. Kerr's bank was an entirely different organization. The capital stock of the Adams County Bank was 860,000.

The capital stock of the First National Bank is now 8200,000. Its officers are A. L. Clarke, president; W. A. Taylor, vice president; Fred Pease, cashier; W. B. Reiner and O. A. Riley, assistant cashiers. The directors are A. L. Clarke, G. J. Evans, Ernest Hoeppner, W. M. Lowman, C. J. Miles, Fred Pease, G. H. Pratt and W. A. Taylor.

The Exchange National Bank has existed as a national bank since January 8, 1884. The beginning of the institution, however, dates back to October 14, 1877, when I. M. Raymond, A. S. Raymond and A. Yeazel opened the Exchange Bank, a private institution with a paid up capital of $10,000. These men were residents, of Lincoln, in which city the Raymonds were wholesale grocers. I. M. Raymond was the president of the institution, and Mr. Yeazel came to Hastings to manage the business, and was a resident of the city for many years. Mr. Yeazel died early in the nineties.

In 1884 the Exchange Bank was reorganized as the Exchange National Bank and its capital stock increased to $100,000, at which figure it now stands. In 1891 W. H. Lanning became president of the bank, Charles G. Lane becoming cashier at the same time. Mr. Lanning continued as president until 1909 when he retired and Mr. Lane became the president and David P. Jones the cashier. The Raymonds still continue their interest in the institution.

This bank began its business in a frame building near the site of its present location. It continued in the frame building until 1883 when the Cameron Block was built. Upon the completion of that block the bank moved into the location which it now occupies. The present officers of the bank are: president, C. G. Lane; vice president, V. B. Trimble; cashier, D. P. Jones.

The Bank of Commerce is a state bank. It was opened for business August 1, 1905, with a capital stock of $50,000. This bank is located at the southeast corner of Hastings Avenue and Second Street, and began business in the rooms occupied by the Adams County Bank of which William Kerr was the president. At the time of organization the officers of this bank were: president, William Lowman; vice president, O. C. Zinn; cashier, F. E. Garratt. In April, 1915, the management changed and the controlling interest of the bank was purchased by J. S. Marvel and J. W. Marvel, who came to Hastings from Hamilton County. The capital stock at present remains as it was originally, $50,000. The building occupied by the Bank of Commerce was remodeled during 1914 and 1915 at a cost of about $10,000. At this time a safety deposit vault was installed and modern conveniences for bank customers.

The officers of this bank are: president, J. S. Marvel; vice president, Emil Poleuske; cashier, J. W. Marvel. The directors are J. S. Marvel, C. B. Wahlquist, Emil Polenske and J. W. Marvel.

The German National Bank was organized June 24, 1887, with a capital stock of $50,000. Senator Charles H. Dietrich was president, W. M. Lowman, vice president; W. H Fuller, cashier, and John Slaker, assistant cashier. A number of years after organization Mr. Lowman sold his interest in the bank to Jacob Bernhardt, who became vice president. Mr. Bernhardt disposed of his interest to William Madgett who in turn sold to J. P. A. Black. Henry Siekmann succeeded Mr. Bernhardt as vice president. A few years afterward Mr. Bernhardt died at Depue, Illinois. In July, 1905, Senator Dietrich retired from the bank and was succeeded in the presidency by J. P. A. Black who still retains the position. In October 1911, Mr. Slaker, the cashier, who had been with the bank for twenty four years retired. A. R. Thompson became vice president and J. H. Lohmann cashier. The present officers are: J. P. A. Black, president; A. R. Thompson, vice president; L. J. Sickmann, vice president; J. H. Lohmann, cashier and H. Welch, assistant cashier. In 1906 the deposits in this bank were $385,760 while in the statement of May 1, 1916, they aggregate $797,117.83.

The German National Bank first opened its doors at 108 North Hastings Avenue, where it remained until 1889 when it removed to the present location in the building owned by Mr. Dietrich. At that time the building was a store building and before the installation of the bank was occupied by the dry goods store of Pickens & Hanna. In 1905 the building was completely remodeled and new fixtures costing $5,500 installed. In 1912 the furniture was further improved at a cost of about $4,000.

The Postal Savings Bank was opened in the Hastings Post Office July 13, 1911. Mrs. J. S. Spriggle and C. Harrison Fergus, R. F. D. carrier No. 3, tossed a coin to determine who should be the first depositor. Mr. Fergus won and opened his account with a deposit of $1.25. By the end of the month the savings bank had thirteen depositors aggregating $235. When the bank was opened each depositor was limited to $500 per year and not to exceed $100 in one month. In July 1916 the limit was raised to $1,000 with no restriction as to the amount per month, provided the yearly aggregate does not exceed one thousand dollars. By January 1, 1912, the deposits amounted to $1,400; in 1914 at the same period they had climbed to about four thousand eight hundred dollars. During 1914 there were many withdrawals for honiebuilding so that January 1, 1915, the deposits amounted to about two thousand dollars. At the beginning of 1916 about three thousand one hundred dollars was on deposit in the postoffice. At this time the number of depositors are about forty five. Several of the depositors have converted their deposits into bonds which pay them interest at the rate of 2 1/2% per annum. Regular deposits draw 2%.

In November 1881 two banks were established which were later consolidated, and the consolidated institution resulted in the only failure in the banking annals of Adams County. The Farmers & Merchants Bank was organized by A. H. Cramer and Harrison Bostwick. The firm erected a building at the southwest corner of Denver Avenue and Second Street. About the same time the City Bank was organized and was located in the stone block. L. H. Tower was the president and E. S. Fowler the cashier of the City Bank. Its capital stock was $20,000. In October, 1883, the City Bank was reorganized as a national bank and became the City National Bank. Its capital stock was raised to $50,000. A. H. Cramer disposed of his interest in the Farmers & Merchants Bank to his partner, Harrison Bostwick in 1884 and the following year Mr. Bostwick and Walter G. Clark of Omaha secured a controlling interest in the City National Bank by purchasing the interests of L. H. Tower and E. S. Fowler. After the consolidation which came as a surprise to the remaining stockholders of the City National Bank, the institution continued under the latter name. Its officers were: president, Harrison Bostwick; vice president, C. J. Dilworth; cashier, W. G. Clark; assistant cashier, J. M. Ferguson. The directors were Harrison Bostwick, J. M. Ferguson, W. G. Clark, C. J. Dilworth, John Slaker, John M. Lyman and G. J. Evans.

Harrison Bostwick was prominently identified with politics and is said to have been a dispenser of railroad patronage. Rumors of indiscreet loans became rife, particularly regarding a brick manufacturing plant which was being developed at Brickton, and these resulted in a run on the bank August 12, 1890. Its doors were closed, but upon the recommendation of Bank Examiner Griffith the bank was reopened in the latter part of September after an assessment of 13 per cent had been levied on the capital stock. By the reorganization effected at this time E. M. Morseman of Omaha became president; G. J. Evans, vice president and A. W. Jones, cashier. Among the directors of this organization was William Neville of North Platte, father of the present democratic candidate for governor. Before the year was over, however, Doctor Lamer of Iowa was appointed receiver to wind up the affairs of the institution. The deposits in the City National Bank were in excess of $350,000 and the failure resulted in much litigation. Some loss was entailed by depositors and the stockholders were heavy losers. Harrison Bostwick, the president, was a lawyer. At present he resides in Seattle, Wash., and is reported to have amassed a fortune.

In August, 1879, C. R. Jones and J. M. Sewell opened a bank in Juniata. This was a private bank and after a number of years it was bought by George T. Brown now a resident of California. This bank became the Bank of Juniata in 1900 with A. L. Clarke president, George T. Brown, vice president, and C. J. Van Houten, cashier. These remain the officers of the bank except that the present cashier is Mr. W. A. Taylor. The frame building in which the bank operated for many years was destroyed by fire in the winter of 1908. The present brick building was erected soon afterwards and was occupied by the bank in September, 1909. In June, 1915, the Bank of Juniata had on deposit $95,000.

The remaining banks may be summarized as follows, the officers named being those serving in 1916:

The First State Bank of Highland was established in 1913, M. Moritz cashier; J. F. Ernstmeyer, president.

The Hansen State Bank was established in 1912, H. A. Redman, president; C. M. Redman, vice president; J. J. Mohiman, cashier.

The Prosser State Bank was established in 1904, Charles K. Hart, president; C. J. Hart, vice president; R. A. Walker, cashier.

The First State Bank of Kenesaw was established in 1908, B. J. Hilsaback, president; William Bernhard, vice president.

The Kenesaw Exchange Bank was established in 1884, A. L. Clarke, president; S. A. Westing, vice president; H. R. Coplin, cashier.

The Farmers State Bank of Ayr was established in 1912, M. Bonham, president; C. S. Woodworth, vice president; C. L. Bonham, cashier.

The Roseland State Bank was established in 1904, W. F. Duncan, president; Erick Johnson, vice president; Ed Hall, cashier.

The First State Bank of Holstein was established in 1902, A. L. Clarke, president; W. B. Hargleroad, cashier.

The Bank of Pauline was established in 1906, A. L. Clarke, president; W. A. Taylor, vice president; F. N. Ferry, cashier.

The Hastings Building and Loan Association was organized in 1896 and incorporated May 2 of that year by Henry Siekmann, A. L. Clarke, E. C. Webster, David B. L. Breede, J. H. Fleming, S. C. Heacox, G. H. Pratt, John Rees, S. E. Howard, H. C. Haverty and J. M. Tennant. Before the organization of the present association another similar organization was carried on for a time. The first organization was called the Hastings Land, Loan and Building Association. It had no connection at any time with the present association.

The association has an authorized capital stock of $1,000,000 divided into shares of $100 each. The assets on October 1. 1896, were $1,662.50; at the present time they have increased to $225,000; while in 1906 they were $95,000. The present officers are H. C. Haverly, president; F. L. Pease, vice president; John Snider, attorney; J. O. Rohrer, treasurer and secretary.

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