(Past & Present of Hardin County, Iowa, 1911 ed.)



With the settlement of every new country, the first thing in order is to produce from soil or mine some commodity which can be turned into money, after first the home demand for breadstuffs and clothing is provided for. The share that is to be sent to other localities must needs to be paid for in money or its equivalent. During the first decade in all these new counties there was but little demand for banks and bankers. It is true that "money lenders" were early in evidence and frequently "shaved" paper at an irreligious rate of discount and loaned money with which the pioneer had to provide himself annually when his taxes were due--otherwise he had his land sold for taxes. But, in a legitimate sense, there was little use for banks in Hardin and adjoining counties until the first settlers had got well organized into settlements and communities and when villages and good sized towns and county seats had sprung into existence. Then it was that trade and commerce needed the bank and the banker, and they came along in their own good time and way. The banking system, however, was not in the perfected state in which it exists in this the opening year of the second decade of the twentieth century, when a dollar is worth a dollar, be it paper, gold or silver. Iowa had its touch of "wild-cat" banks and wilder money.

The first banking institution in Hardin county was the private bank conducted and owned by L.F. Wisner, who began this branch of business at Iowa Falls in 1863. The next bank was the Hardin County Bank, at Eldora, established at 1868.

At an early day in Hardin county money was very scarce and, like the price of wheat, corn, cattle and hogs now, went on the supply and demand principle. In the sixties and seventies (says banker C. McKeen Duren, of Eldora, in a recent newspaper item) two or three per percent, a month was not an uncommon rate of interest for people to pay for the use of cash. We then heard the expression "shaving note," which meant, if one man had a good note drawing ten per cent, for a hundred dollars face, and another man had seventy-five dollars in cash they were often willing to exchange cash for note. One farmer had a sale aggregating one thousand five hundred dollars. Most of the property was sold for notes bearing the names of two or more good men and they drew ten percent per annum. The farmer felt well satisfied to sell the entire bunch of sale notes at fifteen percent discount. The present system of sending personal checks almost anywhere had not developed. It was the custom of banks to charge exchange for cashing checks on almost any town or city, aside from Chicago or New York. One of our churches borrowed money on its note bearing the endorsement of three good men at fifteen percent, and the transaction was considered a sort of benevolence on the part of the bank to loan a church money at four or five percent.

The Hardin County Bank was organized at Eldora December 31, 1868. Its first board of directors was H.P. Liscomb, New York; Thomas Kensett, Baltimore; George Green, Cedar Rapids; F.W.H. Sheffield, Dubuque; H.L. Huff, Eldora; E.W. Eastman, Eldora; C.McKeen Duren, Eldora. Its first officers were F.W.H. Sheffield, president; E.W. Eastman, vice-president; C. McKeen Duren, cashier. November 18, 1872, L.F. Wisner, J.M. Scott, and Doane Young bought four hundred and sixty-seven shares of its stock.

July 1, 1874, Doane Young sold his stock to Deville Hubbard of Marshall, Michigan. Deville Hubbard died in 1883, L.F. Wisner in 1889, George H. Wisner in 1893 and Julia A. Wisner in 1893, so that in June, 1893, two hundred and eighty-six shares of its stock were owned by estates and two hundred and five shares by two women, leaving nine shares which were owned by three men.

C.McKeen Duren was cashier from 1869 to 1893 and president from 1893 to the present time. Ellis D. Robb has been cashier from 1893 to the present time. Its vice-presidents have been E.W. Eastman, J.M. Scott, Deville Hubbard, Thomas G. Alvord, Alice D. Hubbard, J.D. Newcomer.

Although the bank had been a state bank from its organization, its articles were amended August 2, 1904, so as to include the word "State" in its title August 4, 1908, the bank was reorganized as two banks, the Hardin County National Bank and the Hardin County Savings Bank. The national bank commenced to do business September 3, 1908, and the savings bank on the 8th day of September. Its deposits were: March 6, 1869, $7,342.06; March 1, 1870, $22,386.63; March 1, 1880, $62, 102.00; March 1, 1890, $1,101,136.09; March 1, 1900, $207,806.25; March 1, 1910, $480,679.32, for the two banks National and Savings. The City Bank of Eldora was organized in 1877 by C. Hardin & Sons of Monmouth, Illinois. D.S. Hardin was its first manager and was succeeded in 1878 by J.D.K. Smith, who remained with he bank as manager until its in corpora ti ion under the state banking laws in 1890. A.E. Arnold was the first cashier of the City Bank from 1883 to 1890 and with the City State Bank until 1893. In 1896 the City State Bank was merged into the First National Bank, with J.H. Bales, president, D.E. Byam, vice-president, and W.J.Muray, cashier. Mr. Bales retired as president January 1, 1908, and was succeeded by W.J. Murray, the present president, with W.J. Moir, vice-president, and W.E. Rathbone, cashier. The capital of the First National Bank is fifty thousand dollars, with surplus and profits of fifty-five thousand dollars and deposits of four hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars.

In 1902 the Eldora Savings Bank was organized in conjunction with the First National Bank. These two banks, the First National Bank and the Eldora Savings Bank, are owned and controlled by the stockholders of the First National Bank and are managed by the same officers. The two allied institutions have a capital and surplus of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars and total des posits of five hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars.

The Citizens Savings Rank of Eldora was organized as a private bank February 1, 1902, with a paid-up capital of forty thousand dollars, with J.F. Hardin as proprietor and L.W. Harris as cashier. On July 1, 1906, it was incorporated with J.F. Hardin as president, L.W. Harris, cashier, A.W. Mitterer, N.R. Van Avery7, William Schwebke and George P. Kier. It is now enjoying a good business and carries, in connection with its regular banking business, a farm loan and abstract business of much importance.