1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Kansas Banks and Banking Part 2

"The bank of Clark, Gruber & Company maintained a branch in Denver and at one time M. E. Clark, who was in charge from 1860 to 1863, established a private mint for coining gold, which was the nucleus of the present mint in that city.

"There is much interesting detail that must be passed over. Burke's History of Leavenworth made the following summing up to the year 1880: 'As a money center and a base of supplies for the West and the Southwest, the financial importance of Leavenworth during the War and for years after excelled that of most cities five times its population. Between the close of the Civil War and the panic of 1873 there were eight banks, representing a total capital of about $800,000. In 1880 only three banks had survived that panic, the drought and failure of crops and the grasshopper scourge. They were the First National, the German Bank and Insley, Shire & Company (now all absorbed in the First National), and the total capital was $350,000.'

"The banking interests at Atchison had a commencement under equally interesting circumstances as had those of Leavenworth, because of the character of those engaged and the great enterprises associated with banking. The Atchison branch of the Kansas Valley Bank, the first one to be formed under the legislative act, being authorized February 19, 1857, with a capital stock of $300,000 and securities of $100,000. In the act, John H. Stringfellow, Joseph Plean and Samuel Dickson were named to open subscription books. An organization was effected in the spring of 1858, and the capital stock fixed at $52,000. The Board of Directors included S. C. Pomeroy (president), W. H. Russell, L. R. Smoot, W. B. Waddell, F. G. Adams, S. Dickson and W. E. Gaylord. In denial of the statement made by rival towns of Sumner and Doniphan that the bank was about to suspend, the directors published a statement of its condition soon after starting, showing that the assets were $36,638 and liabilities $20,118. The archives department of the Historical Society possesses three documents, dated July 14 and August 3, 1857, concerning the appointment of L. S. Boling, of Lecompton, to examine and report on the affairs of the Atchison branch of the Kansas Valley Bank - the first proceeding of the kind in Kansas.

"S. C. Pomeroy resigned as president before the year 1858 was ended. He was United States senator from 1861 to 1873, and worked for and secured the passage of every land grant made to a Kansas railroad during his first term. In 1860-61 he was agent of the Kansas Relief Committee for the receiving and distribution of funds and supplies furnished by eastern states. G. H. Fairchild was the treasurer of the committee, and the cash receipts from October 1, 1860, to March 15, 1861, were $83,869.52. Mr. Pomeroy was succeeded as president of the Atchison branch of the Kansas Valley Bank by William H. Russell, of the contracting firms of A. Majors & Company and Smoot, Russell & Company. In 1861 this bank, then called the Kansas Valley Bank, had its name changed by the Legislature to the Bank of the State of Kansas. William H. Russell resided at Leavenworth, and was in 1856 the treasurer of the executive committee to raise funds to make Kansas a slave state. The Bank of the State of Kansas continued until 1866, when the stockholders wound up its affairs. Mr. Russell lost heavily in his Overland Pony Express Company and the California Pike's Peak Stage Company, Ben Holliday, of Missouri and New York, securing control of the latter. It was said that he received $500,000 a year for carrying the United States mail between Atchison and Salt Lake, and sold the stage line to WellsFargo for $1,800,000. Atchison had an enormous business in those days derived from the trade of the West, being the starting point of the stage line, the Butterfield Overland Dispatch, and the parallel road to the Kansas gold mines near Pike's Peak.

"I have always believed that Samuel C. Pomeroy was a greatly wronged man. George W. Glick, a Democrat, was a very warm friend to Pomeroy, and he always expressed great indignation when he heard 'Old Pom,' as we all called him, abused about the aid business. He witnessed Pomeroy, several times, divide out aid as it came, and made mention of the abuse heaped on him by the beggars when he could not meet their demands for a wagonload in all to divide. Pomeroy's fall was the result of a conspiracy, and not because of general bribery. Dave Butterfield was a sawmill hand at Junction City. He left his wife there to hustle for herself, which she did by sewing. She made some shirts for me. After a year or so, Butterfield turned up on Wall Street, where he raised $6,000,000 to stock the Butterfield Overland Dispatch, to the amazement of all his old associates. The coaches, mules and equipment were the most extravagant. He was killed at Fort Smith by a streetcar employee with whom he had quarreled.

"The Exchange National Bank of Atchison, the oldest banking institution of Atchison, was established in 1859 as Hetherington's Exchange Bank. Its founder was William Hetherington. Save for one year during the war, its doors have been open daily. Repeated attempts to plunder it at that time induced Mr. Hetherington to close out his business and wait for better days. In 1869 it was removed to the fine building on the corner of Fourth and Commercial, erected by Mr. Hetherington for the express use of his banking business. In 1876 Mr. Hetherington admitted his son, Webster W. Hetherington, who had been for a long time a clerk in the bank, to a partnership, and in 1881 another son, Clifford S. Hetherington, became associated in the business. The Exchange Bank of William Hetherington & Co. was changed to the Exchange National Bank of Atchison, August 1, 1882. The formal change was made July 21st, when the incorporators deposited with the comptroller of the currency $100,000 in government bonds, and completed the steps required by law, but the bank did not commence business until August 13th. The directors were William Hetherington, Webster W. Hetherington, B. P. Waggener, Frank Bier and J. S. Galbraith. Ex-Governor W. J. Bailey is now vice president of this bank.

"Luther Challis appears as a banker in directories of 1859-61, corner of Second and Commercial streets. In 1855 he had a big trade with Mormon emigrants and various Indian tribes. He was a member of the Territorial Council, 1858, of the Free State Council, 1859-60, and later state senator. He framed the bill that authorized the construction of the Central Branch of the Missouri Pacific, being a president of that road and also a director and stockholder in the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. In 1862 he began to operate in Wall Street, and in 1864 removed to New York, where it is said he had $960,000 on deposit. He returned to Atchison in 1878 to save the remnants of his fortune. He fought more than the bulls and bears in New York, where he successfully defeated a blackmailing scheme of the notorious Woodhull and Clafflin, Train and others. He died a poor man.

"Of the banks of Topeka, Guilford Dudley, in 1857, advertised a brokerage business, and again in 1859 he made a showing as a broker. In May, 1864, F. W. Giles obtained a government license to do a banking business, In 1872 the Topeka National was organized. On August 23, 1866, the Kansas Valley National Bank was organized, failing in 1873. It was known as Dan Adams' Bank. The Leavenworth Commercial once said: 'The state funds are in Dan Adams' keeping, and are now invested in cattle.' It was the same kind of a cattle story that forced the impeachment and resignation of State Treasurer Hayes. On January 1, 1869, John R. Mulvane began his wonderful career as a banker in Topeka, as cashier of the Topeka Bank and Savings Institution. To follow these details down to date would make a book; the only purpose of this paper must be to save the beginnings.

"In the spring of 1859, there was a bank organized at Lawrence under the territorial laws, after the Free State party had control, and was called the Lawrence Bank. Its circulation was redeemed in coin. S. W. Eldridge, James Blood, Governor Robinson and Robert Morrow were the owners and directors. After a time Mr. Stevens bought the interests of Governor Robinson and Robert Morrow, and thus became the sole owner. Morrow remained nominally the president, and S. C. Smith was the cashier. Mr. Stevens became extensively engaged in government contracts, building Indian houses and other matters, and concluded to close the bank. He took up and deposited it with the auditor to redeem the circulation, and withdrew the bonds. Mr. Smith remained in the bank doing an exchange business, and this was the condition when Quantrill burned Lawrence and robbed the safe. In it there was a small package of bills that had been redeemed by Mr. Smith and not taken to Topeka, and these were carried by Quantrill's men to Missouri. We have a two-dollar bill of this bank presented by Mr. G. Grovenor, which passed through the Quantrill raid, being in Mr. Grovenor's safe. Morrow had several thousand dollars in coin of his own money in the safe that was also taken during the raid. It was when silver and gold dollars were worth two dollars and a half in greenbacks. There were three other banks in Lawrence opened about this time, viz., Babcock & Lykins, Simpson Brothers and E. D. Thompson. These were not banks of issue.

"Back in the '60s an attempt was made to start a bank at Lecompton. E. W. Wynkoop, later very prominent in the founding of the city of Denver and as an Indian agent, was interested in the attempt, but the sight of much gold and its security, I suppose, greatly discouraged them. Ely Moore, in his delightful story of Lecompton, tells how western people at that time disliked paper money, and he gives a dialogue he heard between a Missouri steamboat captain and a woodyard man. The boat pulled up to the bank and the captain called out, 'Is your wood dry?' 'Yep,' was the answer. 'What is your wood worth?' shouted the captain. 'What kind of money do yer tote, Cap.?' asked the wood merchant. 'The best on earth - the new Platte Valley Bank,' replied the captain. 'If that be so, Cap.,' was the rejoinder, 'I'll trade cord for cord.' How would we do business today with the old-fashioned detector always in hand?"

The following interesting footnote is thrown in at this point: "This use of scrip was fraught with worry and aggravation, and it is no wonder that the banker and the business man of ante-bellum days spent most of their time studying the detector. An article, published a short time since in the New York Sun, and republished in the Kansas City Journal of May 6, 1912, tells something of the money of that time. Spanish coins were largely in circulation then, and the 'fips' and 'levies' were the common small change of the day. A 'fip' represented one-sixteenth of a dollar, and a 'levy' one-eighth. The discount on state bank notes was constantly varying. This fluctuation, with the bank failures and the circulation of counterfeit notes - for many men printed their own money, and circulated it, too, in that day - caused a certain instability in money circles, and made the business life of the small banker and merchant a precarious one."

The consecutive narrative then continues: "Under the act of 1857 creating the Kansas Valley Bank, with branches, Fort Scott organized a branch in May of that year. Governor Robert J. Walker refused to approve. The parties interested sued the Governor, but there is no record of what became of the suit. The law provided that stockholders had to put up one-half their subscription in gold or silver, and give the bank a bond for the other half. Two Lecompton men were quite prominent in the Fort Scott move - James G. Bailey and David Bailey, brothers.

"Kansas in those days had her Wall Street, and it is a singular circumstance that the antipathy which later prevailed did not obtain then. The first United States land office was opened for business at Lecompton in May, 1856. It was located on Elmore street. The remainder of the same block, both sides of the street, was lined by a pretty fair assortment of wood shanties, used by land lawyers and land sharks. The only currency then recognized by the United States in the payment for land was gold and land warrants. Settlers had to have gold with which to pay the government, but they could make some saving by purchasing a land warrant. There are no very damaging stories of the rapacity of those doing business on the Wall Street of Lecompton, but as lofty as five percent a month was common talk for the fellow who had neither land warrant nor gold, and who desired a quarter section of the public land. The land office was removed to Topeka in September, 1861. The greater portion of the time it was at Lecompton there was a heavy business. Besides the ordinary entries, there was much contesting, making business for attorneys and bringing many witnesses. There was a bright lot of young men in those days other than the financial skinners. The first settlers in Kansas were not chumps by any means, Some came here with the conceit that they were sharper than others, and they sometimes found in the end that there were those who were still sharper. I remember an instance of a gentleman from Ohio, who came to Lecompton with a few thousand dollars and who intimated that he was going to cut something of a swath. One morning, about 1858, I was standing in front of the old National Hotel as the stage was loading for the East. The gentleman from Ohio had concluded to return, with every feather plucked. As he stood with one foot on the step of the coach, holding to the post and swinging the other foot, he remarked: 'When I get back to Ohio, I will tell them there is nothing but a sheet of brown paper between this place and hell.'

"The first bank in Junction City was opened by Hale & Kirkendall about May 1, 1866. The name was soon changed to Hale & Rice. It came to an end in a very peculiar way. In March, 1868, a contractor named Rawalle, at work on the construction of the Kansas Pacific, came in on the train after banking hours with $15,000 on his person. He desired to leave it with the bank. The time lock on the inside of the safe had been closed for the night, and it was concluded to put the money inside the outer door. In the morning the outer door of the safe was open and the $15,000 gone. The banker's residence, it was alleged, was entered in the night and the key taken from the banker's pantaloons. It spread suspicion and ruin, and was a mystery which worried the community for years, and is still unsettled.

"The firm of Streeter & Strickler, at Junction City, were very heavy contractors with the Government for freighting and such supplies as hay and corn. Hundreds of men living on the plains were in the employ of this firm. It was on the eve of the winter of 1863, or the winter of 1864, that Streeter & Strickler had accumulated about $200,000 of government vouchers. Strickler went to Leavenworth to get the money - government greenbacks now. A combine had been formed to squeeze him out of a very respectable shave. After several days' resistance he returned to Junction City without the money. This spread consternation along the border, as all had some interest in the matter and needed their pay badly. About seventy-five gathered one day in front of the Streeter & Strickler store. Strickler appeared on the steps to make them a talk. He told them the story of the combine at Leavenworth, and begged them to give him time to beat it, assuring them that, in addition to the squeeze at Leavenworth, a squeeze at home would ruin them all. He invited them all in to examine the paper he held against the government. After being satisfied that the firm had the stuff, the crowd proposed that if they could have some winter clothing they would wait. The next morning Strickler was on the stage for Leavenworth. He shipped $10,000 worth of clothing to Junction City and handed it over the counter as fast as it could be carried away.

"In a few weeks the trouble at Leavenworth was over, and everybody got his pay. The firm of Streeter & Strickler was a great one, covering about all the plains. They were not very prudent, but quite useful, exhibiting the general utility demanded of all successful business men at that time. They are supposed to be the first to use the word 'everything.' The Democrats made three failures in establishing a newspaper in the town. This firm asked the Democrats to stand aside and let the Republicans try it. The Democrats did so, and were always afterward fair and loyal to the enterprise, and I was carried on the pay roll as a clerk in the store while setting type and making a newspaper. Another Republican merchant in town likewise furnished a second printer. This lasted two years when the paper was placed on its own feet. A joker from the East settled near Solomon, and struck with the advertisement 'everything,' in a very formal manner ordered a $1,000 bull. The firm very seriously reported that they were out of that line of bulls, but expected to have one any day. They telegraphed to Illinois for such a bull, and in a few days it was delivered at Solomon. The man who attempted the joke was equal to the occasion, took the bull and paid for it. The firm occasionally differed on local matters, and in one city election both took money from the same till to spend against each other. The man who settled their business told me that their books showed over $3,000 a year was charged to charity. Streeter & Strickler, in the early days of the war, issued a great quantity of scrip, which the soldiers would use for lighting their pipes, which I suppose entitles them to this mention in a banking paper."

Thus the pioneer banks of Kansas, which so often were but side issues to great business enterprises - a means by which they were conducted and developed - progressed through bold experiments and sore trials. When laws and regulations became necessary, they were passed and, within comparatively recent years, strictly enforced, so that the state has now a real system, which will not suffer in comparison with any other in the Union. The first call for a statement from the banks under the Supervision of the Banking department was made October 13, 1891, and the report indicated that at the date named there were 414 state and private banks subject to the law. In 1916, there were doing business, within the borders of the State of Kansas, 225 national banks, 1,010 state banks and trust companies, and three private banks subject to state supervision. The total number of banking institutions was therefore 1,238.

The Bankers Directory for that year, which is standard authority, reports the following in the cities of the state having a population of more than 5,000 people each, with the amounts of paid-up capital:

Arkansas City
     Home National ............................... $ 50,000
     Security ..................................... 100,000
     Traders ......................................  25,000
     Union ........................................  50,000

Atchison
     Savings ..................................... $125,000
     Commerce Trust Co ............................ 100,000
     Exchange National ............................ 200,000
     Exchange State ...............................  50,000
     German-American State ........................  50,000
Coffeyville
     American State ............................... $50,000
     Condon National .............................. 100,000
     First National ............................... 100,000
     Peoples State ................................  25,000
Concordia
     Cloud County ................................ $100,000
     State ........................................  25,000
     Farmers & Merchants State ....................  25,000
     First National ............................... 100,000
Emporia
     Citizens National ........................... $150,000
     Commercial State ............................. 100,000
     National ..................................... 200,000
     State ........................................  50,000
     Lyon County State ............................  50,000
     Warren Mortgage Co ........................... 100,000
Fort Scott
     Citizens National ........................... $100,000
     State ........................................ 100,000
     Kansas State .................................  25,000
     Peoples State ................................  25,000
Galena
     Citizens ..................................... $25,000
     National .....................................  50,000
Hutchinson
     Central State ............................... $100,000
     Citizens ..................................... 100,000
     Commercial National .......................... 100,000
     Farmers National ............................. 100,000
     First National ............................... 250,000
     Fontron Loan & Trust Co ...................... 100,000
     Reno State ...................................  50,000
     State Exchange ............................... 100,000
Independence
     Citizens National ........................... $150,000
     Commercial National .......................... 100,000
     First National ............................... 100,000
     State ........................................  50,000
Iola
     Allen County State ........................... $30,000
     State ........................................  25,000
     Northrup National ............................  50,000
     State Savings ................................  25,000

Junction City
     Central National ............................ $100,000
     First National ...............................  75,000
     Home State ...................................  25,000
     Union State ..................................  40,000
Kansas City
     Argentine State .............................. $10,000
     Armourdale State .............................  50,000
     Banking Trust Co ............................. 200,000
     Central State ................................  10,000
     Citizens State Savings .......................  25,000
     Commercial National .......................... 300,000
     Exchange State ............................... 100,000
     Fidelity State ...............................  25,000
     First State ..................................  30,000
     Home State ...................................  25,000
     Kansas State .................................  10,000
     Kansas Trust ................................. 125,000
     Minnesota Avenue State .......................  10,000
     Peoples National ............................. 200,000
     Riverview State ..............................  50,000
     Security State ...............................  10,000
Lawrence
     Citizens State ............................... $25,000
     Farmers State Savings, Banking & Trust Co .... 125,000
     National ..................................... 100,000
     Merchants Loan & Savings .....................  25,000
     Merchants National ........................... 100,000
     Peoples State ................................  50,000
     Perkins Trust Co ............................. 100,000
     Watkins National ............................. 100,000
Leavenworth     
     First National .............................. $300,000
     National ..................................... 150,000
     Savings & Trust Co ........................... 100,000
     Manufacturers National ....................... 100,000
     State Savings ................................  25,000
     Wulfekuhler State ............................ 150,000
Manhattan
     Citizens State ............................... $50,000
     First National ............................... 100,000
     State ........................................  50,000
     Union National ...............................  50,000
Newton
     First National ............................... $50,000
     Kansas State .................................  60,000
     Midland National .............................  50,000

Ottawa
     First National .............................. $100,000
     Peoples National .............................  50,000
     Security State ...............................  25,000
     State Bank of Ottawa .........................  50,000
Parsons
     Exchange State ............................... $50,000
     First National ...............................  50,000
     Commercial ...................................  50,000
     State Bank of Parsons ........................  35,000
Pittsburg
     First National .............................. $100,000
     First State ..................................  50,000
     National Bank of Commerce .................... 100,000
     National Bank of Pittsburg ................... 100,000
     State ........................................  50,000
Salina
     Farmers National ............................ $200,000
     National Bank of America ..................... 100,000
     Peoples State ................................ 100,000
     Planters State ............................... 100,000
     Traders State ................................  50,000
Topeka
     Bank of Topeka .............................. $310,000
     Central National ............................. 200,000
     Central Trust Co ............................. 200,000
     Citizens State ...............................  50,000
     Farmers National ............................. 100,000
     German-American State ........................  25,000
     Kansas Reserve State ......................... 200,000
     Merchants National ........................... 100,000
     Prudential Trust Co .......................... 100,000
     Shawnee State ................................  60,000
     State Savings ................................ 100,000
     State ........................................  50,000
     Farm Mortgage Co., Inc ....................... 100,000
     The Shawnee Investment Co .................... 100,000
Wellington
     Farmers State ................................ $50,000
     National Bank of Commerce ....................  50,000
     Security State ...............................  75,000
     National .....................................  50,000

Wichita
     American State .............................. $150,000
     Citizens State ...............................  50,000
     Commercial ...................................  10,000
     First Trust Co ............................... 100,000
     Fourth National .............................. 400,000
     Guarantee Title & Trust Co ................... 250,000
     Kansas National .............................. 200,000
     Merchants Reserve State ...................... 100,000
     National Bank of Commerce .................... 100,000
     Security State ...............................  50,000
     Southwest State .............................. 100,000
     State Savings ................................  50,000
     Stockyards State .............................  10,000
     Union State ..................................  25,000
     Union Stockyards National .................... 100,000
     State ........................................  25,000
     Vernon H. Branch .............................  10,000
Winfield
     Cowley County National ...................... $100,000
     First National ............................... 100,000
     Progressive State ............................  25,000
     The State ....................................  50,000
     National .....................................  50,000

There are Clearing House associations at Atchison, Emporia, Kansas City, Lawrence, Pittsburg, Topeka and Wichita.

The bankers of the state have two co-operative organizations, known as the Kansas Bankers' Association and the Kansas State Bankers' Association. The former is the oldest and the strongest, having a memberhip of about 1,000. The Kansas Bankers' Association was organized on February 22, 1887, at Topeka, which is still its permanent headquarters. The membership is made up of both state and national banks. Its officers are: President, T. B. Kennedy, president of the First National Bank, Junction City; vice president, F. H. Foster, vice president Fort Scott State Bank, Fort Scott; secretary, W. W. Bowman, Topeka; treasurer, George T. Hall, cashier First National Bank, Fowler.

Officers (1916-17) of the Kansas State Bankers Association: President, J. L. Raines, president of the Bank of Perry; vice president, T. J. Sweeney, vice president of the State Bank of Girard; treasurer, R. J. Grover, vice president Union State Bank, Arkansas City.

1918 Kansas and Kansans Previous Section Next Section


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, 2000.

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