Friday, May 22, 2020

First National Bank of Lawrenceville 1900-1920

The History Center is located in what was once the First National Bank of Lawrenceville.  

The First National Bank of Lawrenceville rounded out twenty years as an incorporated institution and entered upon its 21st year, May 4, 1920.  The record of Lawrenceville’s then oldest bank was one equaled by few banks in this section of country.

Started as a private bank by P. W. Barnes and John Will McCleave, the business increased until Mr. McCleave was unable to give it proper attention and the Lawrenceville Bank passed into the hands of F. W. Keller & Co. in 1897.

In 1900, the bank was changed to a national bank and the first board of directors was composed of Geo. W. Whittaker, Philip W. Barnes, Chas. J. Borden, Chas. F. Breen, and F. W. Keller.  The board organized by electing P. W. Barnes, president; Geo. M. Whittaker, vice president; F. W. Keller cashier; and W. S. Titus, assistant cashier.  This organization had charge during the change from a private to a national bank with the understanding that a new board would be elected as soon as things were running smoothly. 

This was done on January 1, 1901, when Geo. M. Whittaker was elected president and C. F. Breen, Vice President.  In December of the same year, Mr. Breen retired from the vice presidency to organize another bank and A. L. Maxwell was elected to fill the vacancy.

This organization continued until Mr. Whittaker was forced to resign on account of the weight of advancing years, and on October 7, 1905, F. W. Keller was elected president; A. L. Maxwell, vice-president, and W. S. Titus, cashier.   

It is interesting to note the increase in business during the twenty years.  In 1900, the resources of the bank were $108,000 and the loans $40,500.  In 1920, the resources are $825,000 and the loans $475,000. And it might be mentioned in passing, that the First National Bank never ceased to loan money in reasonable amounts regardless of the financial condition of the country due to panics or other causes.  So far as known, it was the only bank in this section of Illinois or Indiana that had such a record.

The cash dividends declared by the bank during those twenty years, amounted to $120,000.  The officers of the bank in 1920 were F. W. Keller, president; A. L. Maxwell, vice president; Edna E. Thorn, Cashier; R. M. Rainwater, assistant cashier; Florence Sutfin, bookkeeper; and Karl Glover, clerk.

During that time, the board of directors purchased the building adjoining the bank on the north side and contemplated a more modern banking building, one in keeping with the age and stability of the institution. (Those of you who have taken a tour of the upstairs at the Center can see where the two buildings have been joined.)