History Banks and Banking in Lincoln, Nebraska
From: Lincoln the Capitol City and
Lancaster County, Nebraska
BY: Andrew J. Sawyer
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago, Illinois 1916


The city has made a marvelous growth in financial strength and prestige since the late '7os. Her present position of prominence is all the more honorable in consideration of the financial depression through which the banks of Lincoln passed in the '90s.

The first bank in the city was established in June, 1868, by James Sweet and N. C. Brock. Mention has been made of this before. It was organized in the southwest corner room of the Sweet Block, the first block built on the plat of Lincoln, and continued until 1871, when it was reorganized as the State Bank of Nebraska, by Samuel G. Owen, James Sweet and Nelson C. Brock. The 'State National Bank was authorized to do business November 16, 1871, with a capital stock of $100,000.00, S. G. Owen was president and N. C. Brock cashier.

The First National Bank of Lincoln received its first charter to do business on February 24, 1871. The bank was the successor of a private bank which had been founded by Judge Amasa Cobb and J. F. Sudduth, the former president and the latter cashier. Among the early stockholders of the bank were: R. D. Silver, E. E. Brown, A. L. Palmer, John Cadman, J. N. Eckman, W. R. Field, Chester Schoolcraft, J. G. Miller, G. W. Cobb and W. P. Phillips. The first statement of the bank shows that the capital stock on April 22, 1871. was $35,000.00. At that time the deposits were $71,330.00 and the circulation of bank notes amounted to $22,500.00 Three years after its founding John Fitzgerald and John R. Clark bought an interest in the bank. Mr. Fitzgerald became the president of the institution and Mr. Clark the cashier. J. F. Sudduth died in 1880, but no other change was made until 1889, when John R. Clark became president: D. D. Muir, cashier and C. S. Lippincott. assistant cashier. Mr. Clark was the leading spirit in the bank until his death in 1890. J. D. MacFarland assumed the presidency at that time. In 1891 the bank increased its capital stock from $200,000.00 to $300,000.00 and a year later it consolidated with the Lincoln National Bank. N. S. Harwood became president: C A. Hanna. vice president: and F. M. Cook, cashier. The first two mentioned had been officers of the Lincoln National. In 1896, after four years of hard times, with much strain for bank officials, Mr. Cook resigned as cashier and D. D. Muir returned to the place he had formerly held. J. L. Carson became president, but he died shortly and Muir stepped into the presidency in January, 1897. with H. S. Freeman cashier. In 1899 a consolidation was effected with the American Exchange National Bank, which brought S. H. Burnham to the presidency of the First National. The latter bank was at this time almost entirely owned by President Perkins of the Burlington Railroad and it was practically sold outright to the American Exchange Bank. In 1907 the bank formed a combination with the Columbia National, whereby the latter merged with the former. In 1907 the First Trust Company and in 1911 the First Savings Bank were organized by the stockholders of the First National. The present officers of the bank are: S. H. Burnham, president; A. J. Sawyer and H. S. Freeman, vice presidents; P. R. Easterly, cashier; W. B. Ryons and Leo. J. Schmittel, assistant cashiers. The statement of the bank at the close of business March 7, 1916, places the capital stock at $500,000.00; the surplus, $300,000.00; the undivided profits, $49,518.83; the circulation, $200,000.00; and the deposits at $3,815,593.00. The capital of the First Savings Bank, at the same date, was $100,000.00; surplus, $20,000.00; and deposits, $1,150,570.91. The capital stock of the First Trust Company is $50,000.00 and the surplus $20,000.00. The total liabilities of the three amounts to $5,069,591.18. The directors of the three institutions are: S. H. Burnham, E. J. Hainer, George W. Holmes, H. S. Freeman, A. J. Sawyer, Charles Stuart, J. E. Miller, F. M. Hall, C. B. Towle, E. B. Sawyer, E. J. Burkett, C. J. Bills, J. C. Seacrest, W. E. Sharp and F. H. Woods.

The present First National Bank Building was the pioneer of the modem twentieth century office buildings in Lincoln. The bank has always occupied this corner. The building replaced by the new eight story structure was erected in 1873 and was three stories in height. Work upon the new building was begun September 20, 1910 by the Selden Breck Construction Company of St. Louis. Hyland & Green of Chicago were the architects. The building was completed and formally opened to the public on June to, 1911.

The First National Bank has weathered all the storms and vicissitudes which have come upon the business world in the last forty five years. The great panic of 1873, which wrecked scores of banks throughout the country, left the First National unscathed. Then came the panic of 1893, the crop failures of 1894 and 1895, the panic of 1907 and the near panic, or business depression of 1914, caused by the European war, but from each ordeal the bank emerged in safety. In 1892 the City of Lincoln boasted a total of thirteen banks and of that number the only one in existence today is the First National. All the others have since failed, or consolidated, or liquidated. The First National has itself absorbed four of the banks which were competitors in the '9os, the State National, the Lincoln National, the American Exchange National and lastly the Columbia National

The State National Bank was founded in 1872 by the Richards Brothers and was purchased by E. E. Brown, K. K. Hayden and others in 1885 and reorganized. It was afterwards consolidated with the American Exchange Bank in 1892, which in turn consolidated with the First National in 1899. The American Exchange was incorporated on December 1, 1888, and began business at the southeast corner of N and Eleventh streets, with a capital stock of $100,000.00. I. M. Raymond was president: Lewis Gregory, vice president; S. H. Burnham, cashier; and D. E. Wing, assistant cashier.

The Lincoln National Bank, which was located in the Richards Block at the corner of Eleventh and O streets, was organized in August, 1882, and ten years later went in with the First NationaL

C. W. Mosher was president and R. C. Outcalt, cashier, of the financial establishment of Marsh Brothers & Mother, a house which later incorporated as the Capital National Bank, whose failure in 1893 created a profound sensation in banking circles and practically ruined many depositors, and landed President Mosher in the Sioux City federal prison for a term of five years, and was a leading factor in the defalcation of State Treasurer Joseph Bartley, for which he was sentenced to the state penitentiary. This bank was located in the old Journal Building at the southwest corner of Ninth and 0, later moving to Eleventh and O streets.

The Lancaster County Bank was incorporated in June, 1877, by Walter J. Lamb, Thomas Lowell, John Fawell, George C. Newman, J. C. McBride and Joseph W. Hartley, with a capital stock of $50,000.00. The bank did business on the west side of Tenth Street, adjoining the alley between 0 and N. This bank afterwards liquidated.

The Union Savings Bank, which operated at 111 South Tenth Street, was incorporated April 26, 1886, prominent among the men who started it being John Fitzgerald, C. E. Yates, R. E. Moore, E. E. Brown, T. E. Calvert, J. J. Imhoff, John R. Clark, K. K. Hayden and J. McConnif. This bank afterwards went out of business in 1895, paying depositors in full.

The Nebraska Savings Bank, at the southeast corner of O and Thirteenth, was organized on July 20, 1886, among the organizers being C. C. White, J. G. Southwick, James Kilburn, J. L. Miles, George E. Bigelow, D. L. Brace, L. G. M. Baldwin, C. T. Brown and L. C. Humphrey. This bank went out of business about 1893. Other institutions of the city were on the ragged edge at this time, but no more failed until 1895, when the Merchants went under. This latter bank had been incorporated July 111, 1891, by C. E. Shaw, P. A. Wells, Charles White, J. A. Wells, G. R. Brown, J. Z. Briscoe, W. H. Walker, L. C. Burr, A. L. Shrader, Henry H. Dean, S. B. Pound, D. L. Brace, A. D. Kitchen, A. Reuber and R. S. Young, with a capital of $100,000.00. The German National soon followed suit. This bank, located in the old Burr Block at the corner of Twelfth and O streets, was established December to, 1886. Some men prominent in the affairs of this bank were: Herman H. Schaberg, C. C. Munson, Joseph Boehmer, C. E. Montgomery, Alex Halter, F. A. Boehmer, B. J. Brotherton, Walter J. Harris and J. A. Hudelson.

The Industrial Savings Bank was incorporated December 23, 1891, by William Stull, Louis Stull, George A. Mohrenstecher, D. E. Thompson and A. H. Weir. Fearing that the fate of the Union Savings would be theirs the Industrial went out of business in 1896. The Lincoln Savings and Safe Deposit Company, which had been established January 1, 1889, not long afterwards became insolvent. The Lancaster County Bank, mentioned above, brought up the rear very soon.

The City National Bank was organized in 1899 with Thomas Auld as president and J. H. Auld as cashier, and with a capital of $100,000.00. L. J. Dunn became cashier in 1907, after the death of J. H. Auld_ In September, 1907, just before the panic the bank increased its capital stock to $250,000.00. In January, 1912, Thomas Auld sold his interest to L. B. Howey of Beatrice, who became president. The vice president now is L. J. Dunn, the cashier, E H Mullowney, and the assistant cashier, W. Van Riper. The capital remains at $250,000.00; the surplus, $90,000.00; and the deposits amount to $2,000,000.00.

The National Bank of Commerce was established in Lincoln in 1902. K Weil is the president, S. A. Foster the vice president, and James A. Cline, cashier. The capital stock of this growing institution is $200,000.00; the surplus, $120,000.00; and the deposits, $1,500,000.00. The American Savings Bank was organized in 1900. Following are the officers: J. C. Seacrest, president; C. B. Gregory, vice president; Charles B. Gregory, cashier; H. A. Easterday, assistant cashier. The capital stock is $3o,000.00; the surplus, $6,000.00; and the deposits over $400,000.00. The German-American State Bank, which was organized in Lincoln in 1909, has a capital stock of $50,000.00, a surplus of $16,000.00, and deposits avenging $460,000,000. H. E. Sidles is the president, C. Klose the vice president, and William Seelenfreund cashier. The Central National Bank was organized in 1907. P. L. Hall is the president of this institution; Samuel Patterson, cashier; and Henry Mathieson, assistant cashier. F. E. Johnson is vice president. The Nebraska State Bank was organized in 1911, with $50,000.00 capital. The capital stock has been increased to $100,000.00, with a surplus of $5,000.00 and deposits amounting to $400,000.00. The Lincoln State Bank was organized in 1913. Frank Parks is the president, D. L. Love is vice president, John Forrest is cashier, and J. E. Whitney is assistant cashier. The capital stock is $100,000.00; the surplus, $14,000.00; and the deposits have increased to $400,000.00.

A meeting was held at the Columbia National Bank in Lincoln on March 1, 1906, for the purpose of organizing the Lincoln Clearing House; the representatives from the different banks being present. A constitution was presented and adopted. Dr. P. L. Hall was elected president; L. J. Dunn, vice president; and L. E. Wettling, secretary. All the banks represented at the meeting were duly elected members of the clearing house.

Bank clearings for the year 1915 show an increase of nearly $400,000.00 over 1914, to be precise, $9,776,437.00. This year the total was $119,043,782.00, a year ago it was $109,267,345.00. This is considered a remarkable increase in view of the war and general trade conditions over the country and one indication of the general prosperous condition prevailing in the country adjacent to Lincoln. Bank clearings are taken to indicate the amount of money that is spent each year in the conduct of business in sections of the country and with that in view Lincoln's place among the cities may be advanced a notch or two.

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