The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 19.


Valparaiso Had a Private Bank In 1855; First National Opened In 1863, Farmers Nat'l In 1874

Porter county at the present time is served by five banks, two building and loan savings associations and one postal savings bank. The present institutions successfully weathered the bank crisis of 1932, when many institutions crashed and others went into liquidation.

Credit for the establishment of the first bank in Porter county is given to Hubbard and Franklin W. Hunt, who came to Porter county in 1849 and established a dry goods and general merchandise business. In 1856 they disposed of their business and opened a banking house. They following year Hubbard Hunt withdrew, but Franklin W. continued in the business for some years. The bank was finally liquidated by Franklin Hunt after a number of years.

Shortly after the commencement of the Civil war, congress passed an act authorizing the establishment of national banks. Under the provisions of this law articles of association were signed on May 20, 1863, for the formation of the First National Bank of Valparaiso. The capital stock was fixed at $50,000, which was held by twenty-one stockholders.

Later in the year the bank was fully organized with Levi A. Cass as president and M. L. McClelland cashier. The first board of directors consisted of the president, Thomas S. Stanfield, Joseph Pierce, W. C. Talcott, S. W. Smith, B. F. Schenck and A. V. Bartholomew. The first deposit in this bank was made by Mrs. Mary F. Brown on November 30, 1863. In 1882 -- the original charter for twenty years being about to expire -- the bank was reorganized as the First National Bank of Porter county, which occupied the same building, and was composed of the same stockholders, though the capital stock was increased to $100,000. The charter of the reorganized bank was dated May 4, 1882, to run for twenty years.

In March, 1902, William Johnston, Charles W. Benton and other filed an application with the United State government for authority to organize the Valparaiso National bank, to take the place of the old First National Bank of Porter county. In response to the petition a charter was granted and again the bank was reorganized.

In 1909, Charles W. Benton, who was vice-president, was chosen as president. In 1924, the bank sold its home, built in 1871, and erected a $100,000 banking house just south of the old bank. A section of the bank was devoted to the business of the First Trust Company of Valparaiso, which was organized in 1906 and is affiliated with the Valparaiso National bank. In 1930 A. J. Louderback, cashier of the bank, retired after forty-two years in the banking business. He is now living in Texas.

In 1929 Mr. Benton resigned and Dr. Horace M. Evans was elected president of the Valparaiso National and First Trust company. In the banking crisis of January, 1932, both institutions were forced to close. H. Clay Hammond is receiver for the bank, and J. W. Whitaker for the trust company. The bank has paid depositors 100 percent of their claims and the trust company twenty-five percent.

In November, 1874, Joseph Gardner started a saving bank which in the fall of 1976 was incorporated as the Farmers' National bank. It began business on February 1, 1879, with a capital stock of $50,000. Joseph Gardner was the first president. The first stockholders were Joseph Gardner, A. V. Bartholomew, H. B. Brown, J. M. Felton, W. P. Wilcox, J. C. Flint, John Wark, Joseph R. Hill, N. J. Bozrath and George A. Dodge.

On the death of Joseph Gardner in 1907, his son, W. H. Gardner, was elected to the office. He retired in 1918 and was succeeded by Charles L. Jeffrey, of the Chesterton bank. Shortly after Mr. Jeffrey became connected with the bank it was decided to convert it into a state bank, which was carried into effect March 2, 1918, since which time the institution has been known as the Farmers' State bank.

In February, 1926, the bank's quarters in the old Academy of Music block was destroyed when fire razed that structure. The next day the bank was able to resume business in the Brown building at the corner of Lincolnway and Washington.

The same year officials of the bank closed the deal for the purchase of the west-half of the Specht-Finney building at the corner of Lincolnway and Franklin, and began at once to remodel it for a new home. In May, 1927, the bank moved into the newly-remodeled building.

Mr. Jeffrey resigned as president in 1929 and was succeeded by Arthur A. Hughart. He served until 1932, when he was succeeded by P. W. Clifford. During the banking crisis in January, 1932, the bank closed for a time, but soon reopened on a sound basis. It carries federal insurance up to $5,000 for each depositor.

The State Bank of Valparaiso was organized in 1889 under the laws of Indiana. It occupies a handsome and well appointed building on Indiana avenue, opposite the court house. The need of a Porter county bank, authorized to loan money on Porter county farms, caused William E. Pinney and some associates to organize the State Bank of Valparaiso, with a capital stock of $35,000. Mr. Pinney served as president of the bank from 1889 to 1912, when he was succeeded by Hannibal H. Loring, who is still head of the institution.

In 1903, when the bank erects its building, neither a state bank nor a national bank was authorized to act as trustee, administrator, executor, guardian or receiver in a court proceedings and thrift was not encouraged among young people by paying interest on savings accounts. To furnish this service, Mr. Pinney and his associates in 1908 organized the Thrift Trust company with a capital stock of $25,000. On December 1, 1926, the capital and surplus of the bank was $138,000 and of the Thrift Trust company, $62,000.

During the banking crisis in January, 1932, the State Bank of Valparaiso did not close its doors, nor suspend operations. At the present time the bank is known as the First State Bank of Valparaiso. In 1934, the Thrift Trust company was discontinued by the bank and its assets are now being liquidated.

The Chesterton State bank at Chesterton was organized on April 3, 1890, by Joseph Gardner, of Valparaiso, and George C. Morgan of Chesterton. Mr. Morgan died in 1894, and Mr. Gardner continued in the business until January 7, 1902, when he sold his interest to Charles L. Jeffrey, who had been cashier of the bank since its organization. A complete reorganization of the bank took place on July 25, 1910, when the capital stock was increased from $10,000 to $25,000. Mr. Jeffrey died on February 27, 1933, and Edward L. Morgan was elected president.

The Citizens' Bank of Hebron was first organized in 1890 with Robert J. Dwiggins, president; Jay Dwiggins, vice-president, and J. W. Moss, cashier. Through a combination of unfortunate circumstances the bank closed and M. J. Stinchfield was appointed receiver. A total of ninety-five percent was paid depositors, and later Mr. Dwiggins mailed each depositor a check for the remaining five percent.

In the meantime, the Citizens' Bank of Hebron had been organized in 1894, with a capital stock of $25,000. During the banking crisis in January, 1932, the bank closed for a few days and then reopened. C. J. Hobbs is president of the bank. He succeeded George C. Gregg, who died on April 28, 1934. Robert McGinley is cashier and Mary Bryant, assistant cashier.

On January 8, 1909, the Bank of Kouts, of which Robert Parker, of Remington, Jasper county, was president, closed its doors and a representative of the state auditor took charge. Parker was subsequently sent to prison on a charge of bank wrecking.

Citizens of Kouts purchased the old building and organized the Porter County bank, which opened its doors on July 31, 1900. In April, 1927, the bank was again closed by the state banking department after an alleged shortage of $77,000 was found in the accounts of Cashier Charles Cannon. Cannon was later sentenced to prison. The affairs of the bank were liquidated. At the present time Kouts has no bank.

A postal savings bank was opened on July 31, 1911, in connection with the Valparaiso postoffice, the first deposit being made by A. L. Brown. A postal savings bank was also started at Chesterton in 1912.

In December, 1887, a number of Valparaiso citizens established the Valparaiso Building, Loan-Fund & Savings Association. Through the operations of the association many people of Valparaiso have been aided in securing homes of their own. In July, 1935, the association was merged with the First Federal Savings & Loan Association of Valparaiso. Accounts of all investors and borrowers were transferred to the new association. Mark L. Dickover is president of the First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Valparaiso, and Earl V. Smith is secretary.

In 1919 the Citizens Savings and Trust Company bank was organized in Valparaiso with a capital of $50,000, and opened for business on January 1, 1920. Its founders and directors were: W. J. Henry, president; C. E. Fifield, vice-president; H. L. Arnold, vice-president; G. A. Shauer, secretary; J. B. Dilley, Isaac Dillingham, F. W. Alpen, directors, and E. J. Gardner, cashier. In 1927 the bank had total resources of $602,171.06. Officers were: F. W. Alpen, president; William, Urschel, vice-president; Morgan Porch, treasurer; J. W. Whitaker, secretary; E. J. Gardner, cashier; Dr. A. O. Dobbins, J. O. Shauer and J. W. Kuehl, directors. Several years later the bank was merged with the Valparaiso National.

In 1921 a Rural Loan and Savings Association was formed at Chesterton for the purpose of making loans on farms and real estate. From a humble beginning the association has grown by leaps and bounds. A year ago the capital sock was increased from $100,000 to $500,000. During the depression years the association has paid three percent annually on its common stock. The association also has a surplus of $15,000. Present officers are: Joseph H. Ameling, president; Harry R. Smith, vice-president; Charles W. Jensen, secretary; Miss Irene E. Kreiger, assistant secretary. Directors in addition to the officers are Marion P. Brummitt, John G. Johnson and H. A. Flynn.

The First State Bank of Porter was organized in 1920 with a capital stock of $25,000 with E. A. Wilson, president; John E. Kemp, vice-president; C. W. Wright, cashier, and H. L. Arnold, chairman of the board of directors. It is engaged in general banking and insurance business and is authorized to act as administrator, guardian and trustee and maintains a savings department. The bank occupies a modern brick structure equipped with fire and burglar-proof system and modern fire and burglar-proof vaults.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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