History of Lenawee County, Michigan - Chapter 37, Banking and Finance



CHAPTER XXXVII. BANKING AND FINANCE. ANUPATHY TO BANKS-EARLY BANKING LAWS-"WILD-CAT" BANKING-CITY BANK OF BREST-PANIC OF 1337-REPORT OF BANK COMMISSIONERS-BANKING LAW DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL-COMPLETE FINANCIAL RUIN-ERIE & KALAMAZOO RAILROAD BANK -PHILO C. FULLER-PERIOD OF SANE BAiNKING-WALDBY & CLAY'S STATE BANTK-LENAWEE COUNTY SAVINGS BANK-COMMERCIAL SAVINGS BANK-ADRIAN STATE SAVINGS BANK{ NATIONAL BANK OF COMMERCIS-LILLEY STATE BANK AND THE TECUMSEH STATE SAVINGS BANK, AT TECUMSEH-THE BOLES STATE SAVINGS BANK AND THE THOMPSON SAVINGS BANK, AT HUDSON-OTHER BANKING INSTITUTIONS-A DISHONEST BANKER. Although the bank is an effect rather than the cause of industrial or commercial activity in any city or community, it is generally a good index to the state of industrial or commercial prosperity. In a review of the history and development of Lenawee county it is therefore eminently proper that its banking history should be considered. During the era of settlement, and for some years after the Territory was admitted as a state, the people of Michigan were not friendly to banks. This was chiefly due to the unstable character of the currency then in circulation. Most of the paper money of that day was issued by private banking concerns, and went current only so long as some man of known integrity and business standing said it was good. Nor was this prejudice-if prejudice it can he called-indigenous to the Western frontier. Many of the pioneers had been forced to leave their homes in the older states and begin life anew on the margin of civilization through the fault of some "wild-cat" bank. Hence the empathy to banks whose solvency was liable at any moment to be called into question. And it becomes necessary here to notice a series of events that had an important bearing upon the development of Lenawee county, as well as Michigan in general. Notwithstanding the hostility mentioned, at the beginning of ''1837 there were sixteen chartered banks in the state, nine of which had been chartered by the Territorial Legislative Council and seven by the state legislature of 1836. The following is a list of these banks: Michigan, Detroit; Monroe, Monroe; Pontiac, Pontiac; River Raisin, Monroe; Washtenaw, Ann Arbor; Erie & Kalamazoo, Adrian; Farmers' and Mechanics', Detroit; Michigan State, Detroit; Tecumseh, Tecumseh; Merchants' & Mechanics', Detroit; St. Clair, St. Clair, Clinton, Clinton; Calhoun, Marshall; McComb- Mt. Clemens; Constantine, Constantine, and Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti. It would seem as though these sixteen banks could have done the business of this then new state, but on March 15, 1837, the legislature enacted a law providing for the incorporation of moneyed institutions. This law provided that any number of men might associate together, subscribe $50,000 for a capital stock, and by filing articles of association with the county clerk, become incorporate. One-third of the capital must be owned in the county, ten per cent to be paid in before election of directors, and thirty per cent. before bank notes should be issued. The law_ also contained this restrictive clause: "It shall not be lawful for any such banking association to issue, or have outstanding or in circulation at any time, an amount of notes or bills loaned or put in circulation as money exceeding twice and a' half the amount of its stock then paid in and actually possessed; nor shall its loans and discounts at any time exceed twice and a half the amount of its, capital stock so paid in and possessed." This was bad enough, but a subsequent statute allowed them to deposit, instead of specie, a bond secured on real estate. Under the operation of this law hundreds of banks sprang into existence. Nearly every cross-road had its bank, and it is indeed a wonder that the inhabitants of any community could forego the luxury of a banking association. Every kind of property was quoted at inflated prices, and wild land, valued at three or four times its actual worth, became the security for the bank circulation of Michigan. These hanks, on account of the character of their securities, were called "wild-cat banks," and the old banks were known as "chartered banks." Banks of the wild-cat species sprang up in Lenawee county as follows: Lenawee County Bank, at Palmyra, capital $IOO,ooo; Commonwealth Bank, at Tecumseh, capital $5o,ooo, and the Bank of Adrian, at Adrian, with a capital of $15o,000. The law required a certain amount of specie to be kept in the vaults of the bank, but this provision was evaded. The same specie served for exhibition for a dozen banks, at various intervals. The bonds and mortgages which were deposited were upon city lots in the woods, or on real estate at fictitious values. The notes of one wild-cat bank were held as capital by another wild-cat bank. They clandestinely put out a much larger circulation than the law allowed them. In these and a hundred other ways they evaded the law and practiced outrageous swindles upon the public. Incidents connected with the operations of these banking schemes properly form a part of history, and none will serve as a better illustration than the City Bank of Brest. Brest was a magnificent city (on paper), situated at the mouth of Swan creek, about seven miles from Monroe. An excellently lithographed and beautifully colored map of the city represented it with broad avenues, lined with palatial residences and handsome grounds. The extended river front of the city had continuous lines of docks, above which towered, on either hand, lofty warehouses, filled with the merchandise of the world. The largest steamers were represented as sailing up past the city, whose docks were crowded with vessels of all descriptions, while the streets were thronged with busy life. The ruins of Ninevah or Baalbec are not more desolate now than are the ruins of Brest, and it is little less a wilderness today than it was seventy years ago. But Brest had a bank, with a capital of $1oo,ooo. It was a fair sample of a wild-cat bank, and an illustration of how those affairs were managed. The law compelled the bank commissioners to make an investigation into the affairs of the banks. Spies dogged the footsteps of the commissioners,, and it was generally found out when they were to visit a bank for inspection, whereupon the affairs of that particular bank were put into favorable shape forthwith. On Aug. 2, the commissioners examined the Bank of Brest and found that its principal resources consisted of loans on bonds, $76,ooo; bank stock, $7o,ooo; specie, $12,8oo. It appears that of the specie, $1o,5oo belonged to Lewis Godard, and had been received by the bank the day before examination, and was drawn out the day after examination. The $16,ooo loan on bond and mortgage was a loan to the trustees of the town of Brest, to secure which the bank received an assignment of the bonds executed by Lewis Godard for the sum of $34,ooo, and also of mortgages of 118 city lots in Brest. On the day after the examination the directors assigned the bond and mortgage back to the trustees of Brest, having received nothing for the same. Seven days later an impromptu investigation of the affairs of the bank showed that the amount of specie on hand amounted to $138.89, while the whole amount of bills of the bank which were in circulation was $84,241. A few days after the investigation into the affairs of the Bank of Brest, the commissioners examined the Bank of Clinton, and found specie on hand to the amount of $11,029.36. On the day succeeding the examination $10,500 of this specie was drawn from the bank by the cashier, brought to Detroit and paid over to Lewis Godard, it being precisely the same specie that had done duty a few days before in the Bank of Brest. Thus the specie was carted about the country in advance of the commissioners. An examination into the affairs of the bank at Palmyra showed the requisite specie on hand. Suddenly descending on the bank, a few days later, the total amount of cash in the bank was found to be $34.20. At the same time the circulation of the bills of the bank amounted to more than $20,ooo. Isolated banks; which could not enjoy the benefits of this rotation of specie reserve, resorted to other devices. Some of them, it is said, would buy a small quantity of specie, and nearly filling small kegs with pounded glass, would cover the top with specie and thus pass the examination. Before the bursting of this financial bubble the amount of notes of these banks in circulation is estimated to have been not less than $300 for every man, woman and child in the state. While some bona fide banks were established, it was soon found that the law was taken advantage of by dishonest men to practice the grossest frauds and swindles. The law practically permitted these frauds, and the officers of the state, though striving honestly to do 'their duty, were powerless to prevent them. Banks were established in the most inaccessible places, which it was not likely the holders of the bills could ever find, and hence the bank would not be asked to redeem its currency. In addition to the bank already mentioned, the then promising village of Palmyra was blessed with another wild-cat establishment, known as the Palmyra and Jacksonburgh Bank. About the time these wild-cat banks had got to work, the country experienced one of those financial. panics which so frequently shake commercial communities to their very center. President Andrew Jackson, it will be remembered, was hostile to the United States Bank, which had been in existence since 1816. It had been chartered in December of that year for a period of twenty years, and as its term was about to expire "Old Hickory" fought the movement for renewing the charter with all of his characteristic determination. He conquered, the bank was discontinued, its stock was sold and the money was paid into the United States treasury. The banks in the several states were thereupon designated as banks of deposit, and were used for collecting, transferring and disbursing the public revenues. There was then a surplus in the United States treasury, and after a long and exciting debate in Congress, in the session of 1835-36, it was determined to distribute this surplus among the several states in proportion to their representation in Congress, to be deposited in the various banks for safe keeping. Then ensued one of the wildest eras of speculation. Money was abundant, the coffers of the government Were overflowing, the country was prosperous and everybody seemed bent on making a fortune, regardless of whether the orthodox plan of action was followed or not. The state banks loaned out the money which had been deposited with them to the red-hot speculators who were buying government land, and were laying out and building cities in the wilderness, connecting them by railroads and canals. These loans were given on what was supposed to be good security, it generally being real estate taken at its speculative value, or city lots in cities where scarce a tree had been hewn down or a spade had penetrated the earth. But the reaction came all too soon. Hard times oppressed the country, the government had use for its money, and called upon the banks with which it had been deposited to return it again in coin. The banks did not have it; they had loaned it out on security to speculators. The speculators had been unable to realize even their investments at the fancy prices at which they had been made. The security proved of little or no value, and the banks were sore distressed to meet their obligations to the government, since specie only would be received. In this cramped condition the banks, in order to save their -existence, were compelled to proceed with the utmost caution. Specie payments were suspended. The banks called in their circulation as rapidly as they could, and refused to throw it out again, preferring to await a turn of events, and not endanger their lives by having a large irredeemable circulation out. The consequence was a scarcity of money, and business was greatly cramped thereby. The people were clamorous for relief, and there was an out-cry against the chartered banks as being moneyed corporations which only sought their own selfish ends, and had no regard for the welfare of the people. They were declared to be monopolies, and everything else being free in this country, banking should also be free. About this time a general banking law had been passed in the state of New York, and numerous banks had gone into operation under it. Without waiting to see how the New York idea would work in practice, the Michigan legislators quickly adopted the same plan, and as a result the celebrated "wild-cat banks" came into existence, making a very bad condition of affairs worse. The system of wild-cat banks had just been organized when the crash came, and well would it have been for the. young state of Michigan if all these financial institutions had been immediately swept out of existence. But they were legal banking houses, and were entitled to any measure provided for the rehef of honest bankers. The legislature passed an act to suspend specie payments until June ,16, 1838. An act was also passed curtailing the bank circulation. Banks that had vested interests to protect were careful ,in the extreme, discounted sparingly, and then. only on undoubted paper. But the wild-cats had no vested interests. Their capital existed largely in imagination, and the requirement of the law that thirty-hundredths of the capital should be coin in the vaults was almost wholly disregarded. As their own securities were to a great extent a myth, they ran no risk in accepting almost any security for their nearly worthless promises to pay. Therefore their notes were in everybody's -hands, while those of the chartered banks were almost as scarce as gold. The Bank Commissioners, in their annual report, dated Jan. 18, 1839, gave in detail the policy pursued by them and the results. of their investigations into the condition of affairs of the various banks. They used very strong, language in denouncing the system, and in referring to the General Banking Law asserted that there were no species of fraud and evasion of law which the ingenuity of dishonest corporations had ever devised, that were not practiced under this act. Stock notes were given for subscriptions to stock, and counted as specie, and thus not a cent of real capital existed, beyond the small sums paid in by the upright and unsuspecting farmer and mechanic, whose little savings and honest names were necessary to give confidence and credit. The notes of institutions. thus constituted were spread abroad upon the community in every manner, and through every possible channel; property, produce,. stock, farming utensils, and everything which the people of the country were attempted by advancing prices to dispose of, were purchased and paid for in paper, which was known by the utterers to be absolutely valueless. And thus a law which was established upon principles well digested and approved, and hedged around with so much care, and guarded with so many provisions that few, it was supposed would venture to bank under it, became, by the base dishonesty and gross cupidity of a few, who had control of the specie of the country, nothing less than a machine of fraud. Continuing their report, the commissioners said : "It has been said, with some appearance of plausibility, that these banks have at least had the good effect of liquidating 'a large amount of debt. This may be true, but whose debts have they liquidated? Those of the crafty and the speculative-and by whom? Let every poor man from his little clearing and log hut in the woods make the emphatic response by holding up to view as the rewards of his labor a handful of promises to pay, which, for his purpose, are as valueless as a handful of dry leaves at his feet. Were this the extent of the evil the indomitable energy and spirit of our population, who have so manfully endured it, would redeem the injury. But when it is considered how much injury is inflicted at home by the sacrifice of many valuable farms, and the stain upon the credit of the state abroad, the remedy is neither so easy nor so obvious. When we reflect, too, that the laws are ineffective in punishing the successful swindler, and that the moral tone of society seems so far sunk as to surround and protect the dishonest and fraudulent with countenance and support, it imperatively demands that some legislative action should be had to enable the prompt and rigorous enforcement of the laws, and the making severe examples of the guilty, no matter how protected and countenanced." Upon this report the' legislature promptly suspended the operation of the General Banking Law so far as organizing other banks was concerned. But the evil had been accomplished. Worthless bank notes were in the hands of every one. The chartered banks had at first refused to have anything to do with the bills of the other banks, whereat there was a public clamor raised which compelled them to receive such bills on deposit, and in the way of business. Thus the regular banks, which had been doing an honest and legitimate business, were engulfed in the ruin which followed. When it became apparent that banks were established for fraudulent purposes, many of them were enjoined. Others, -which had been striving to conduct their affairs honestly, struggled along in the hope of being able to redeem their circulation; and the holders of notes, for a long time, had faith that they would be able to realize something on them. But at length the law, and all the banks with it, collapsed fatally and forever. The question of the constitutionality of the law tinder which these banks were organized, was raised in the supreme court, and the law was decided unconstitutional at the January term, 1844, on the ground that the constitution required that each corporation created by the legislature must receive the direct assent of two thirds of the members elected, and that it was not a fait compliance when the assent of two-thirds was given to a general statute establishing a system for the admission of voluntary associations to corporate privileges. The opinion of the court was read by Justice Whipple, who maintained that it was clearly the intention of the framers of the constitution to prohibit the legislature from passing a general law authorizing the erection of corporations. The law being thus declared unconstitutional, of course the personal liability of directors and stockholders under it fell to the ground, and all hope which the holders of bills may have had of realizing anything upon them vanished forever. The bills were only so much waste paper. Already every one of the banks had collapsed, and they had dragged down the chartered banks with them. There was never a more complete financial ruin. When all the banks had been swept out of existence there were hills afloat representing millions of dollars. Many of these were in the hands of bona fide holders, who lost heavily thereby. Many of the bills had never been in use, and were, then given away promiscuously. Children used them to play with, and in the rural districts, where paper hangings were scarce, people used them to paper their rooms. The bills were engraved by Rawdon, Wright & Hatch, in the best style of their art, and. were printed on a good quality of paper, so that they made the walls of a log cabin rather picturesque. They were scattered all over the state, thrown into old garrets, closets and book-cases. While the Civil war was in progress, thousands of dollars of these bills were resurrected and taken South by Federal soldiers, who found that the people of the South preferred them to Confederate money ;. in fact they were quite as valuable and superior in point of typographical appearance. Many of these bills are yet preserved and are shown as curiosities, serving also 'as reminders of those exciting times, which in history are regarded as partaking both of the ludicrous and the mournful. Why the banks were called "wild-cats" is not known. The bills of similar banks in the state of New York were known as "red dogs." Whether the two names had any relation to each other we are unable to say. Very likely the name of "wild-cats" was applied to them on some occasion in jest, and it seemed so peculiarly appropriate that it stuck to them and was generally adopted. One authority says that the name was first given to them by Oliver Newberry, who was at one time a leading merchant in Detroit. Some debtor brought in a parcel of these bills to pay up an account. -Mr. Newberry refused to take them, and said he would have nothing to do with that "wild-cat stuff." Whether or not Mr. Newberry is entitled to the honor of going down to posterity as the stigmatizer of this species of 'bank notes is of small moment, but the characterization of them was certainly a fitting one. And looking over the field now, it is hard to understand how men of ordinary wisdom and prudence were led into this wild scheme of universal banking. But they suffered intensely for it. Lenawee county, which was rapidly filling up with a stirring Eastern population, received a check to her immigration and to her commercial prosperity from which she did not soon recover. But the lesson was not lost on Michigan. Upon the ruins of that utterly prostrated credit she buildt so wisely that now no state enjoys greater prosperity or has a more enviable reputation for financial soundness. The first bank to be established in Lenawee county was the Erie & Kalamazoo Railroad Bank, of Adrian, a chartered institution, established by Philo C. Fuller, of Geneseo, N. Y. Mr. Fuller was born in New Marlborough, Mass., Aug. 13, 1787. By profession he was a lawyer, politically a Whig. He had been a member of the New York assembly, and also state senator, and while residing in Lenawee county was elected a representative in the legislature and was chosen speaker of the house, in 184r. He settled in Adrian in 1837, and had charge of the Erie & Kalamazoo railroad, as well as the bank of that name. He later returned to the state of New York, served as comptroller of that state, and in the administration of William Henry Harrison was assistant postmaster-general. He died at Geneva, N. Y., Aug. 16, 1855. After Mr. Fuller retired from the Erie & Kalamazoo Bank it went into the possession of John B. and F. W. Macy, of New York, who placed Carlisle Norwood in charge of the institution, and it continued in existence for some years, until forced into liquidation by the series of events already narrated. THE PERIOD OF SANE BANKING. In 1850 Ira Bidwell decided to open a banking office in Adrian, and offered William H. Waldby an interest in and management of the same, which offer was-accepted. The bank was opened Dec. 3, 185o, in the old Franklin House block, south room, on Main street, and remained there until the completion, in 1851,' of a new business block and banking house on the south side of Maumee street, between Main and Winter, the location being where the store of Wood, Crane & Wood now is. In that year Ira Bidwell retired from the business, selling his interest to William H. Waldby, and in 1852 E. J. Waldby joined his brother, the firm taking the name of W. H. Waldby & Company, by whom the institution Was successfully continued. In 1855 the business lot on the southeast corner of Maui-ace and Main streets was purchased, and in 1857 the firm erected and occupied the building which still stands and has always been used for banking purposes. W. H. Waldby & Company continued the business until 1872, when it was changed to the First National Bank of Adrian, of which Fernando C. Seaman was president; Abel Whitney, vice-president, and Ebenezer I. Waldby was cashier. On May 1, 1878, E. I. Waldby and Frank W. Clay purchased the business, good-will and building, and continued the banking business under the firm name of Waldby & Clay. Waldby & Clay's State Bank was organized tinder the state banking law, June 24, 1894, and has a paid-in capital stock of $15,ooo. In the Twentieth Annual Report of the Commissioner of the Banking Department of the State of Michigan, issued Dec. 31, 1go8, the resources of this bank amount to nearly $8oo,ooo. Frank W. Clay is president; R. S. Moreland, vice-president; H. B. Waldby, cashier, and J. C. Murphy, assistant cashier, while the board of directors are E. B. Waldby, H. B. Waldby, F. W. Clay, Rial Clay, J. D. DeFoe, R. S. Moreland, A. W. Wood, J. W. Kirk and F. A. Stevenson. The Lenawee County Savings Bank was incorporated Dec. 21, 1869, among the prime movers in the enterprise being the following named gentlemen : Rial Niles, William W. Bruce, George Bruce, Charles M. Walker, Henry Hart, Elihu L. Clark, William Dutton, Nathaniel B. Eldredge, Joseph H. Wood, Alanson Worden, George Bidwell, R. R. Beecher, Joseph R. Bennett and George H. Bruce. The first board of directors was selected from among these gentlemen, and the original capital stock was $50,000. The bank was opened for business Jan. 13, 1870, on East Main street, in the building which is now occupied by Fred Schwartz and Herman Berger. It remained at this location about two years and then, in 1872, was moved to the Masonic Temple, -where it remained for a period of thirty-five years. It is now one of the oldest incorporated state banks in Michigan, and with one exception it is the only strictly savings bank in the state. The first president, elected upon the organization of the bank, was Elihu L. Clark, who served in that capacity until 1874, when he was succeeded by William Dutton. Mr. Dutton was succeeded by Ex Gov. Charles M. Croswell, and in 1887, Joseph R. Bennett was elected to the position. Delos M. Baker succeeded Mr. Bennett, and upon the death of Mr. Baker Herman V. C. Hart was elected president of the bank and is the present incumbent of that position. The first cashier was William W. Bruce, who served from the time of organization until 1876, when he was succeeded by Col. Sylvester B. Smith. In the fall of 1878 Herman V. C. Hart became cashier and served until the early part of 19 o9, when he was promoted to the presidency, and Clinton D. Hardy was elected cashier, which position he now fills. The present Board of Directors are Herman V. C. Hart, Ambrose B. Park, Clinton D. Hardy, Dayton B. Morgan, Harry L. Larwill and Warren J. Parker. The corporate existence of the bank was extended Feb. 1, 1902, and its present capital stock is $100,000. On May 15, 19o6, ground was broken for the commodious building which the bank now occupies on East Maumee street. The site selected for the location of the building was that formerly known as the Dr. P. J. Spalding property, and the lot has an S1-foot frontage, with a depth of 247 feet. The size of the building is 56x72, two stories, and the second floor is divided into conveniently arranged office rooms. The building is both fire and burglar proof, electric lighted and steam heated, and the material used in its. construction is a light colored impervious brick, with Bedford stone, and terra cotta trimmings around the roof. The removal of the bank from its former quarters in the Masonic Temple to the new building was made on June 25, 1907, and on the morning of the following day the place was opened to the, public in the continuance of business. It is no exaggeration to say that the Lenawee County Savings Bank building has few, if any, that equal it, and none that excel it in the points of architectural beauty and convenience of arrangement, in a city of the size of Adrian. In 1849 Langford G. Berry and William H. Stone opened a banking house in Adrian, and for several years did a general banking business under the firm name of L. G. Berry & Company. Mr. Berry finally retired from the firm, and F. J. Remington became an active partner, when the firm name was changed to W. H. Stone & Company. Mr. Remington continued in the business until he removed to California, in 1876, and then Mr. Stone assumed the entire charge, but continued the firm name, and his bank was a prominent financial institution until his death, which occurred Sept. 13, 1878, In November, 1878, Col. Sylvester B. Smith formed a partnership with Thomas J. Tobey, and they engaged in the banking business as successors to W. H. Stone & Company, and this partnership continued until the death of Colonel Smith, in 1883. The firm name was then changed to T. J. Tobey & Company, with Delos M. Baker as the silent partner, and this arrangement continued until December, 1885, when a new firm, consisting of Seymour Howell, Edwin L. Baker and William B. Thompson, succeeded to the business under the firm name of Howell, Baker & Company. In June, 1888, this bank was reorganized as the Commercial Savings Bank of Adrian, Howell, Baker & Company's interest being transferred for stock in the new organization. The officers elected at this time were William J. Cocker, president and William B. Thompson, cashier A. Cocker served as president until his death, which occurred in May, 1go1, and then Charles R. Miller was elected to the position. Mr. Miller retired in January, 1904, and was succeeded by Alanson Bennett, the present incumbent. William B. Thompson served as cashier until in April, 1881, when he resigned and moved to Denver, being succeeded by Seymour Howell. Major Howell officiated as cashier until December, 1897, when he resigned, and Ernest N. Smith was elected to the position, which he has been the incumbent of up to the present time. The first board of directors of this institution consisted of Seymour Howell, Charles Bowerfind, David Metcalf, Alanson Bennett, William J. Cocker, Charles R. Miller, Dr. Abram M. Stephenson, John G. Mason and Norman Geddes, and the present board is Alanson Bennett, Abram M. Stephenson, Edwin C. Sword, Alfred H. Wood, Charles G. Hart, Edwin L. Bake; John E. Bird, Neil B. Hayes and Albertus E. Palmer. The bank has a capital stock of $110,000, and does a commercial and savings business. In June, 1877, Charming Whitney opened to the public in Adrian the doors of a financial institution, tinder the name of Whitney's Commercial Exchange Bank. It was a private bank and Mr. Whitney was the sole owner. It was located at No. 18 West Maumee street. The bank offered to pay five per cent. compound interest on deposits, which was the usual rate at that time, and Charles G. Wesley, now a prominent merchant of Adrian, was the first book keeper. The bank had the usual experience of new institutions, and at first business did not come rapidly, but the young banker kept steadily at it, gaining the confidence of the community step by step, and in the course of a year or two the enterprise was an assured success. In 188o the late William S. Wilcox became associated with Mr. Whitney and the business ran as the Commercial Exchange Bank of Whitney & Wilcox. The institution continued to be one of Adrian's leading banks until June, 1893, when Messrs. Whitney & Wilcox organized under the state law as the Adrian State Savings Bank. Mr. Whitney was elected cashier of the newly organized concern and was its largest individual stockholder. In 1894 he retired from the active management on account of poor health, and in order to give his personal attention to his large real-estate holdings. According to the report of the Commissioner of Banking for the year 19o8, R. A. Watts is president and B. E. Tobias is the cashier of the Adrian State Savings Bank, while the board of directors is constituted as follows R. A. Watts, George A. Wilcox, William E. Jewett, R. A. Kaiser, C. G. Wesley, CWT. 0. Hunt, B. E. Tobias, A. D. Ellis, C. S. Whitney and R. H. Watts. The capital stock is given as $6o,ooo. In 1895 Channing Whitney opened a private bank tinder the name of The Commercial Exchange Bank of Channing Whitney & Company, with a capital of $75,000, starting in handsomely equipped quarters at No. IS West Maumee street, and having his son, Charles S. Whitney, associated with him. The Messrs. Whitney's honorable methods and wide acquaintance in the city and county secured at once for the new bank a generous share of the public patronage, and they were conducting the affairs of this institution with marked success at the time of Channing Whitney's death, Nov. 1.5, 1902. Chas. Whitney, the son, then merged the institution into the Adrian State Savings Bank, and became the auditor and a member of the board of directors of that financial corporation. Adrian had been without a National bank from 1878, when the First National Bank ceased doing business, until the early part of 1909. In May, 1gog, the National Bank of Commerce was organized, and it opened its doors to the public on June 3, following. It has a capital of $1oo,ooo, a surplus of $20,000, and its officers are as follows: David L. Treat, president; Theodore M. Joslin, vice-. president; Rolland C. Rothfuss, cashier. The following gentlemen comprise the board of directors: Willis Chatfield, James 1V. Helme, Smith C. Fairbanks, Webster C. Jipson, Theodore M. Joslin, Samuel 0. Rothfuss, Rolland C. Rothfuss, Charles L. Robertson, William H. Shierson and David L. Treat. The four-story brick building on the north side of Matinee street, between Main and Broad streets, is now being remodeled to become the home of the new National Bank of Commerce. In 1855 Lucius Lilley engaged in the banking business in Tecumseh, where he has remained in the same business and at the same locality up to the present time, a period of fifty-four years. I-re is the president of the Lilley State Bank, of Tecumseh, and is one of the oldest, best known and most conservative bankers in the state. In September, 1855, he accepted the position of teller in the old Tecumseh Bank, with which he remained until the institution wound up its affairs, in 186o, when he organized the savings bank of P. Bills & Company, Mr. Bills being the president and Mr. Lilley the cashier. In 1865 this bank was reorganized as the National Batik of Tecumseh, and Mr. Lilley held the position of cashier, managing its affairs successfully until it-went into voluntary liquidation, in the spring of 1874. As a successor to this institution, the Bank of Bills, Lilley & Company was then organized, and Mr. Lilley was cashier and manager of the same until the death of Mr. Bills, in 188o, when a reorganization took place under the firm name of Lilley, Bidwell & Company. The institution was again reorganized tinder the state banking law, Jan. 26, 1893, as the Lilley State Bank of Tecumseh, with a capital of $40,000, and the officers of the bank, as reported in the State Bank Commissioner's report for 1908, are Lucius Lilley, president; P. W. A. Fitzsimmons, vice-president; F. J. Temple, cashier, and H. S. Temple, assistant cashier. The board of directors is given as follows: Lucius Lilley, L. I. Bidwell, P. AV. A. Fitzsimmons, F. E. Bradley, R. A. Heesen, F. J. Temple and ZIT. D. Reed. The Tecumseh State Savings Bank was organized April 21, 1893, with Joseph II. Smith as cashier, and that gentleman has continued to fill the position up to the present time. The late Capt. Charles R. Miller was president for a number of years prior to his death, but the local conduct of the institution has been largely in the hands of the genial cashier, and John Q. Look, the popular vice-president. The Tecumseh State Savings Bank is regarded as one of the safest and most conservative banks in this section of the state. It owns the building which it occupies, and has a paid-in capital stock of $26,000. The board of directors, as given in the State Bank Commissioners report for 19o8, is as follows: C. R. Miller, Joseph Russell, C. A. Slayton, J. Q. Look, L. G. North, A. C. Aylesworth. The first bank in Hudson was called the Exchange Bank, and it was established by Henry M. Boies, John K. Boies, and Nathan Rude. in 1855. The entire control and management of it for several years was in the hands of Nathan Rude, and later John K. Boies succeeded to the management. Upon the death of Henry M. Boies and Nathan Rude, the old firm was succeeded by that of Boies, Eaton & Company, the members being John K. Boies, Stephen A. Eaton and John H. Boies. John K. Boies died in August, 1891, and the following year the bank was-incorporated as a state institution, and took the name of The Boies State Savings Bank, by which it has since been known. Stephen A. Eaton was elected president under the new organization and has officiated in that capacity since, the other officials at the present time being D. J. Beachboard, president, and Byron J. Foster, cashier. The bank has a paid-in capital stock of $75,000, and the board of directors is composed of the following gentlemen: Stephen A. Eaton, James B. Thorn, D. J. Beachboard, II. V. C. Hart, E. J. Southworth, By Ron J. Foster, and Edward Frensdorf. This banking institution has been a successful one during all the years of its existence, and it continues to enjoy the implicit confidence of the community. Its place of business is upon the same site where the original Exchange Bank was established in 1855. The Thompson Savings Bank, of Hudson, was organized Oct. 22, 1892, and has had a very successful career during all the years of its existence. Its capital is $1oo,ooo, and according to the State Banking Commissioners' report for 19o8 its total resources are more than $850,000. The officers are W. B. Thompson, president; G. I. Thompson, vice-president; C. C. Whitney, cashier, and the board of directors is composed as follows: W. B. Thompson, Fred S. Vedder, R. WV. Thompson, G. I. Thompson and C. C. Whitney. The Thompson Savings Bank is the outgrowth of or successor to a private bank, which was organized by the Thompson brothers in 1867, and for twenty-five years they conducted it as a private bank, until 1892, when a reorganization was made under the state law, as before stated. In the spring of 1868 Charles C. Wakefield purchased a plat of ground in Morenci, erected a suitable building thereon, and established an exchange bank under the firm name of C. C. Wakefield & Company. This institution was conducted as a private bank until its incorporation, Jan. 1o, 1898, since which date it has been known as the Wakefield State Bank of Morenci.- Ever since its inception Charles C. Wakefield has been at the head of the institution, and its success and present standing in the financial world is largely due to his integrity and business judgment. The bank has a capital of $30,000, with total resources reported by the State Bank Commissioner at about $400,000, and it is officered as follows C. C. Wakefield, president; F. E. Cawley, vice-president; C. A. Wilson, cashier. The board of directors is composed of the following: C. C. Wakefield, J. 0. Wakefield, William M. Hamilton, F. E. Cawley and C. A. Wilson. The First National Bank of Morenci was organized in 19oo, as the successor of the Bank of Morenci, a private institution which had been in existence for a number of years. It has a paid-in capital stock of $25,000, and its resources are placed at about $225,000. In 1896 Elias B. Rorick became cashier of the old Bank of Morenci and upon the organization of the First National Bank of Morenci he was elected president, which position he held for a number of years. The officers as given in the last report are C. Rorick, president; Dr. E. H. Rorick, vice-president; A. V. Foster, cashier; l. C. Rorick, auditor, and the members of the board of directors are: C. Rorick, A. V. Foster, A. H. Rorick, L. E. Foster and Dr. E. II. Rorick. The Blissfield State Bank, of Blissfield, is the successor of a private banking institution which was started in Blissfield about 1873, by Arthur D. Gilmore. It was successfully conducted as a private bank Until May 31, 1893, when it was incorporated as a state bank under the laws of Michigan, with a capital of $20,000. It has steadily grown in the confidence of the public and in the amount of business transacted, and in the last report of the State Commissioner of tanking its total resources are placed at about $270,000. Its officers are: A. D. Ellis, president; William Rothfuss, vice-president and L. H. Rothfuss, cashier. Its board of directors is composed of A. D. Ellis, A. D. Gilmore, George F. Ford, II. B. Hathaway, William Rothfuss and George W. Davenport. In 1885 the bank of Jipson, Carter & Company was organized at Blissfield, Webster C. Jipson becoming. the cashier. It met with flattering success from the start, and was conducted as a private institution until March i, 1goo, when it was reorganized as the Jipson-Carter State Bank, with a capital stock of $25,000, and Mr. Jipson continued to fill the position of cashier. Its total resources at the close of 1908 were considerably over $500,000, and its officers are given as follows: W. C. Jipson, president; C. E. Howland and J. J. Walper, vice-presidents; Charles L. King, cashier, and J. G. Bauer, assistant cashier. The board of directors is given as follows W. C. Jipson, C. E. Howland, J. C. Holt, Ğr. F. Rodgers, H. E. Morrow, J. J. Walper, John Ickler, R. M. Eccles, C. L. King and S. C. Fairbanks. The Deerfield State Bank at Deerfield was organized March 27, 19o6, with a capital of $20,000, and its resources at the last report, in 1908, were given as $80,935.86. W. F. Weisinger is the president, Dale Munson officiates as vice-president, and V. B. Cannon occupies the position of cashier, while the board of directors is constituted as follows : W. F. Weisinger, Daniel Diver, Nathan Bragg, George Cannon and Dale Munson. This bank is highly appreciated in the stirring village of Deerfield, and it is constantly increasing in popular favor. The Addison State Savings Bank, of Addison, was organized Oct. 11, 19o5, as the successor of the private bank of O. B. Bowen & Company, which had been in operation at that place for a number of years. Its capital stock is $20,000, while its total resources reach considerably beyond the $100,000 mark. Its officers are 0. B. Bowen, president; Fred B. Kline and L. S. Town; vice-presidents, and Henry F. Davis, cashier. The board of directors is composed of the following citizens: O. B. Bowen, F. B. Kline, Henry F. Davis, D. A. Curtis, R. C. Rothfuss and L. S. Town. There is also a private banking institution at Addison, managed by Azariel Smith, a reliable and substantial citizen, who conducts the business under the name of the Exchange Bank of Addison. The Onsted State Bank, at the thriving village of Onsted, was organized Sept. 20, 1907, with a capital stock of $20,000, and its record has been one-of rapid and substantial growth. Its stockholders are numbered among the representative men of the locality and the business is conducted carefully and on a conservative basis, so that the institution well merits the popular support accorded to it. The personnel of the executive corps of the bank is as here noted: Frank M. Skinner, president; Smith C. Fairbanks, cashier, and Fay E. Ross, assistant cashier, while the directors are: Frank M. Skinner, Leonard S. Mann, Smith C. Fairbanks, Warren G. Shepherd, Charles Kerr, Fred Hardcastle, Dr. G. W. Ross, Charles L. Reynolds and E. B. Rynd. The villages of Britton, Clayton and Clinton have neither National nor State banks in their midst, but each of these villages has one or more private banking institutions that fully meet the requirements of and afford the financial conveniences to the respective localities. At Britton is the Bank of Britton, with Frank Bauer as cashier; the Exchange Bank at Clayton is conducted.by J. M. Lamb as president, W. W. Cooke as vice-president, and Leo Haley as cashier, and Clinton has the private banks of Smith, Richmond & Company, and that of Van Tuyle & Silvers. These form important and convenient additions to the banking interests of Lenawee county, and it may be said that in the matter of banks the needs of the various sections of the county are supplied. Recurring again to the "wild-cat" days in the banking history of Lenawee county, it may be stated that following the bursting of that financial bubble the organization of new banks was not to be expected. Only two banks in Michigan-one at Detroit and one in the Upper Peninsula-were chartered in the twenty years between the repeal of the Act of 1837 and the enactment of the General Law of 1857. These two decades were distinctly the era of private banks. But, notwithstanding the laxity of the early laws and oftimes unfavorable conditions, since the "wild-cat" fiasco of long ago, Lenawee county has been fortunate in escaping the dire effects of bank failures and the misdeeds of dishonest bankers. But few exceptions mar this bright page in her history, perhaps the most serious of which occurred in 1864, at Hudson. Some time prior to 1859, John M. Osborn had established a banking institution at Hudson, under the name of the People's Bank, and William Air. Treadwell, who was the son of a highly respected citizen of that place, was taken in as an employe to assist in the management of the business. At length he became a partner in the bank, and finally, in 1859, Mr. Osborn sold his interest to Urias (the father) and William Treadwell. In 1862 the son became the sole proprietor and by his pleasant ways and obliging disposition he made himself very popular among the farmers and business men. His safe contained large sums of money which had been deposited as a result of such friendship, and in December, 1863, the treasurers of the townships of Hudson and Rollin, and of Pittsford in Hillsdale county, commenced to deposit their collections, which, increasing each day, would be allowed to remain in the bank until the following February. Banker Treadwell also secured loans from various city banks, procuring $4,500 from the banks in Adrian, and on the night of Jan. 20, 1864, every dollar was taken from the well-filled safe-its owner robbed it and decamped. An examination of the books showed he had taken $42,000 in round numbers, from the safe, and in addition to this amount he had the loans which he had procured and had not placed on the books. Money deposited to await investment, the soldiers earnings, and the widow's mite, all were gone. Treadwell was arrested at Mansfield, Ohio, Feb. 17, three weeks after his nocturnal flight from Hudson, and he was immediately brought to Adrian and lodged in jail. Efforts were made to effect a settlement with the creditors of the bank, but without avail, and on Friday, July I, after a trial in the circuit court at Adrian, Treadwell was convicted and remanded for sentence. About 5 o'clock, the same afternoon, he escaped from jail in company with John Cowell, a convicted horse thief. Two weeks later, July 14, his body was found in the woods in Wood county, Ohio, one mile from any road, and about thirty-six miles from Adrian. The body was badly decomposed, but the unfortunate victim had received a series of severe blows on the head, and there was a large fracture of the skull on the right. side. Cowell, the horse thief, was arrested and charged with the murder of Treadwell, and at the trial, which took place in May, 1865, Mrs. Treadwell testified that before her husband left the Adrian jail she managed to give him $800 in $loo bills. Cowell was convicted, and was executed July 7, 1865. As soon as it was found that Treadwell was dead, the creditors of the bank petitioned for probate of his estate, and letters of administration were granted. Suits were brought against Treadwell's father-in-law to recover the money that had been stolen, and after considerable delay a large sum was recovered. In the great panics of 1873 and 1893 not a single one of Lenawee county's banking institutions failed or suspended, and in the panic of 1907 they suffered no loss, either financially or in the confidence of their patrons, though there was some falling off in the deposits. In conclusion it may be said that the banks of no county in the state enjoy a more deserved prosperity or have a more enviable reputation for financial soundness than those of Lenawee county.I



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History of Lenawee County
published by The Western Historical Society in 1909.

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