History of Banking in Penn Yan, NY
From: History of Yates County, N. Y.
Edited by: Lewis Cass Aldrich
Published by: D. Mason & Co.
Syracuse, N. Y. 1892

Banking Houses of Penn Yan. - There was no banking house in this village prior to 1831. In fact there was but little need of such an institution, for currency and coin were scarce commodities, and produce of various kind was a recognized medium of exchange between the debtor and creditor. During the first twenty five or thirty years of village history there were but few business houses in the place, while the country roundabout was likewise comparatively undeveloped. However, the village had its usual contingent of money lenders; men of capital who conducted a quasi banking business whenever and where ever occasion presented.

The first steps taken in the matter of organizing a bank under authority of the law occurred during the year 1831, when on the 2d of April the Yates County Bank was chartered and incorporated. Its original capital stock was $100,000, which, as shown by the books of the concern upon its organization in September following, was subscribed for and owned by these persons: William M. Oliver, Andrew F. Oliver, Abraham H. Bennett, George Young, Mordacai Ogden, Alanson Douglass, Thomas W. Olcott, Alexander Marvin, James Harris, Samuel Stevens, Green C. Bronson, Ira G. Smith, Lot Clark, Eben Smith, Elias Patterson, William B. Welles, Henry B. Gibson, Olivia Hochstrasser, Grattan H. Wheeler, William W. McCay, Hervey Wheeler, Samuel S. Ellsworth, Asa Cole, and John Spicer.

The old Yates County Bank appears to have been a politico-financial institution, as it procured its charter through the influence, and was afterward managed and conducted in the interest of the so called Hunker element of the Democratic party. In fact so radical in this respect became its controlling officers as to work disastrously to the welfare of the institution and contributed to its early downfall. It was organized under the then existing safety fund system, but was managed under unsafe business principles. William M. Oliver was its president and active financial officer, while John A. Welles acted in the capacity of cashier. The first place of business of the bank was in Mr. Oliver's office near his residence, but was afterward removed to the building standing where is now located Lown & Co.'s store. Here the bank ended its business career by a disastrous failure in 1848, by which failure many of the depositors lost to the extent of their credit accounts for a considerable time. Under the law as it then stood the directors could vote to pay, in liquidation of their debts, whatever per cent. they saw fit, and taking the benefits of this power the Yates County Bank voted to pay fifteen cents on the dollar. But there were persons who understood the inside workings of the bank who would not be satisfied with this meagre payment, and by speaking out at the proper time succeeded in realizing nearly the full amount of their claims. However, the safety fund system, under which the bank was chartered, brought to the other creditors a fair proportion of their deposits, but not until after several years of anxious suspense.

The Farmers' Bank of Penn Yan was brought into existence by a charter dated August 20, 1839, and was closed on account of unprofitable business in 1843. The active spirits in the organization of this bank, and in the conduct of its affairs, were Judge Samuel S. Ellsworth, Alvah Clark, and E. H. Huntington. The State issued currency to the concern, taking as security bonds, mortgages, and other collateral. The place of business was in the store now occupied by Frank Quackenbush as a drug store, and the old deposit vault still occupies a part of the ground floor. Originally and for a short time the bank did business on Main street, just north of Jacob, but was soon afterward moved to the store above mentioned. The Farmers' Bank was commonly known to the people as the "Red Dog Bank," and so called from the fact of its bills having red colored backs. The house eventually failed, upon Which the State sold the securities and used the avails to pay depositors and creditors. The capital stock of the Farmers' Bank was $100,000.

The Bank of Bainbridge was chartered by the State in April, 1847, and became a local institution two years later. In 1849 Nathan B. Kidder, formerly of Geneva, caused to be erected the bank building now occupied by the First National Bank, and about the same time purchased the Bainbridge concern and moved it to Penn Yan. He was its virtual owner, though its management was entrusted to Henry B. Bennett, afterward assisted by James Tims. By the former the bank was run about two years and then closed, although the reports state that Mr. Bennett continued to redeem its currency until 1863.

At that time, in the early fifties, Oliver Stark was an insurance agent of the village, a man of prominence and some means. He occupied the bank building in connection with his former business, and soon afterward determined to do general banking in connection therewith. For a number of years he was highly successful, but eventually he became involved by embarking in too extensive enterprises, and final disaster and failure was the natural result. Many residents of the locality were heavy losers by this failure, and but little was realized on settlement of the bank's affairs. The name under which the proprietor did business was "Oliver Stark, Banker." Mr. Stark operated as a banker for a period of about fifteen years.

J. T. Raplee's Bank is well remembered as one of the financial institutions of Penn Yang; and remembered by some persons with feelings of deep sorrow and regret. It is understood that Mr. Raplee commenced business soon after 1860, although a State work gives the time as July 15, 1858. He occupied the old Yates County Bank building, and for some time did a successful business; but, unfortunately for him, Mr. Raplee was a rabid Democrat, and so thoroughly impregnated his business with his political sentiments as to bring himself into disfavor with the majority of the people, and finally worked the ruin of his bank.

Following the downfall of the Stark and Raplee banks there appears to have been no banking concern in the village for some time. But merchants and dealers of the locality found temporary accommodation in this direction through the malting firm of George R. Youngs & Co., which was at that time one of the largest and safest business houses in in the county.

In October, 1869, Mason L. Baldwin, of Benton, established a private banking house in Penn Yang, and under the name of "M. L. Baldwin, Banker," continued a successful business until 1881. In the year last named, and the month of May, "Baldwin's Bank of Penn Yan" was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York. Its capital stock, all paid in, was $50,000. Its first board of directors comprised W. H. Fox, John T. Andrews, 2d, A. W. Franklin, Silas Kinne, and Mason L. Baldwin. The president chosen on the organization of the bank was Mr. Baldwin, and the cashiership was voted to Mr. Kinne, both of whom are still serving in their respective offices. This bank has been and now is a successful institution, having an accumulated surplus of more than $50,000; a sum in excess of its capital. The present directors of Baldwin's Bank are as follows: Oliver G. Shearman, John P. Plaisted, W. H. Fox, Silas Kinne, and Mason L. Baldwin. Assistant cashier, Fred S. Plaisted.

The First National Bank of Penn Yang was organized by the purchase of the charter of the First National Bank of Watkins, and the removal thereof to this village, in pursuance of an act of Congress passed in 1873. The re-organized bank had and still has a capital stock of $50,000. Its first board of directors was Ezekiel Castner, John C. Sheetz, James Forbes, William S. Briggs, John Southerland, George H. Lapham, and Fred S. Armstrong. At the opening of its doors for business, April I, 1873, the officers in charge of the bank's affairs were John C. Sheetz, president; William S. Briggs, vice president; George H. Lapham, cashier. Mr. Sheetz retired from the presidency in 1885, and was succeeded by Mr. Lapham, the latter being now the chief managing officer of the bank. H. K. Armstrong became cashier on Mr. Lapham's advancement, and in 1889 A. W. Kendall was appointed assistant cashier: Also in 1889 Judge Briggs retired from the vice-presidency and Theodore F. Wheeler was elected to the vacancy. In 1890 Mr. Armstrong resigned the cashiership, and Mr. Kendall was elected to that position. Since 1889 there has been no change in the direction, which is as follows: John C. Sheetz, John Southerland, Clarence W. Perkins, John T. Knox, Theodore F. Wheeler, George H. Lapham, and James H, Gabby. At the commencement of business in 1873 the First National Bank had a surplus of $7,000, an amount that has since increased to more than $25,000. The reports of the first fifteen years of the bank's business show net profits of $103,731.56, of which $75,5oo was paid in dividends to stockholders; $23,000 carried to surplus; and $5,231.56 to undivided profit account. For the period named the bank has shown a net profit of fourteen per cent. per annum, with bad debts and losses all charged off.

The Yates County National Bank was incorporated December 30, 1878, under the national banking laws, with a capital stock of $50,000. About the same time the bank opened its doors for business. Its first board of directors was as follows: Andrew Oliver, Charles C. Sheppard, Nelson Thompson, John Lewis, Morris F. Sheppard, Theodore Bogart, George R. Cornwell, George S. Sheppard, and Ralph T. Wood. The officers were Andrew Oliver, president; Morris F. Sheppard, vice president; Frank R. Durry, cashier. In 1881 Mr. Oliver retired from the presidency and was succeeded by Morris F. Sheppard, the latter having been the chief managing and executive office from that until the present time. The vacancy created by Mr. Sheppard's advancement was filled by the election of Theodore Bogart. The latter was afterward superceded by John L. Dinturfl, and he still later by the present vice-president, Daniel Lanning. The Yates County Bank is and ever since its incorporation has been a safe, strong, and well managed financial institution, and one, too, that enjoys a full share of the public confidence and support. During its thirteen years of business the bank has accumulated a surplus of more than $15,000. Its place of business is at No. 34 Main street. The officers and directors of the bank are as follows: Morris F. Sheppard, president; Daniel Lanning, vice-president; Oliver H. Stark, cashier. Directors, Morris F. Sheppard, Daniel Lanning, S. W. Van Deventer, John H. Butler, S. H. Sheppard, William T. Morris, Oliver H. Stark.

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