[an error occurred while processing this directive]


Banks, Old and New


The Grand River bank was the first in Grand Rapids. It was organized in 1838 and had its office in a small building at the northwest corner of Michigan street and Bond avenue. John Almy was president and William A. Richmond, cashier. It continued in business only three years. About the same time another bank, of the so-called "wild cat" type, was started on Monroe avenue. Louis Campau was its president and Simeon M. Johnson, cashier. This bank's affairs were wound up before it really got a start.

In those days of "wild cat" banks the village was obliged to funish currency of its own, therefore the board September 12, 1838, resolved to issue $300 in bills of $1 and $2 denominations. Those so-called "shinplasters" were in use for seven or eight years.

During the ten years---from 1840 to 1850---the people of Grand Rapids had no real bank. In 1851 William J. Welles opened a banking and exchange office in the old stone building at Monroe and Ottawa avenues, then known as "The Wedge." Mr. Welles continued in business until June, 1861, when serious losses following the outbreak of the Civil War forced him to close his doors.


Daniel Ball & Co., merchants, began to sell bills of exchange on Chicago and eastern cities in 1852. This business in 1853 became known as the Exchange bank. It continued until October, 1861, when it also was forced to close on account of severe losses following failures of individuals and banks of issue in Illinois and Wisconsin. It has always been the proud boast of this community that both these institutions, driven to the wall by untoward circumstances, paid their obligations in full, with interest.

In December, 1861, Martin L. Sweet took the office formerly occupied by Daniel Ball & Co., and as successor to the Exchange bank continued to do the principal banking business of the city. March 10, 1864, the First National Bank was organized, received its charter and began taking over the business of Martin L. Sweet's private bank. The First National had a capital of $50,000, considered large in those days. Martin L. Sweet was the president and Harvey J. Hollister the cashier. When the First National's charter expired February 24, 1883, the stockholders decided to liquidate the business, and the $400,000 capital and $284,000 undivided profits were paid to the stockholders.

The Old National bank, chartered in 1883, succeeded to the business of the First National, whose quarters it occupied. The Old National's capital was $800,000 and its first officers were: Solomon L.Withey, president; James M. Barnett, vice-president; Harvey J. Hollister, cashier.

Since the banking business of this institution was established by Daniel Ball & Co. in 1852, the Old National and its predecessors have been located at the northwest corner of Monroe avenue (the old Canal street) and Pearl street. The present officers of the Old National bank are: Clay H. Hollister, president; William Judson, Carroll F. Sweet, George F. MacKenzie, Eugene Richards, and L. Z. Caukin, vice-presidents; J. C. Bishop, cashier; Philip L. Hollway, assistant cashier; Henry E. Ford, auditor.


Late in 1861 or early in 1862, W. B. Ledyard and Moses V. Aldrich opened a discount and exchange business in the office formerly occupied by William J. Welles, at Ottawa and Monroe avenues. The name of this private banking firm later became Ledyard & Fralick. This business was sold to the City National in 1865.

In 1868 E. P. and S. L. Fuller opened a private bank on Canal street (Monroe avenue), which they operated until 1876, after which Peter Graff and H. H. Dennis continued it until 1879.

In January, 1869, E. G. D. Holden and Marcus W. Bates, then in the insurance business, opened a savings department. This afterwards was merged in the Grand Rapids Savings bank.

In 1873 L.H. Randall and J. C. Darragh opened a private bank and continued in the business until 1879, when the Fuller and the Randall & Dennis banks were merged in the Farmersand Mechanics.

The Farmers and Mechanics bank was organized under act of the state legislature February 1, 1879, with a capital of $100,000. Under the act its business was to terminate January 31, 1909. The first officers were: Leonard H. Randall, president; Henry H. Dennis, vice-president; and James C. Darragh, cashier. Amasa B. Watson succeeded Mr. Randall as president in 1880. January 17, 1882, the board of directors resolved to wind up the buisness and to reorganize under the name of Fourth National bank.

The Fourth National bank was chartered January 9, 1882, with A. B. Watson, president; A. J. Bowne, vice-president; and I. M. Weston, cashier. Its first capital was $300,000 and circulation $100,000. In 1898 William H. Anderson succeeded to the presidency, which office he held until the bank's assets were purchased in 1926 by the Grand Rapids National.

The business men of the west side demanding a bank on that side of the river, the Fifth National was organized March 9, 1886, and opened for business on West Bridge street April 15 following. Its first officers were William Dunham, president; J. D. Robinson, vice-president; and William H. Fowler, cashier. The capital was $100,000. In 1902 its office was moved to Canal and Erie, on the east side. In 1908 this bank was merged with the Commercial Savings.

The Kent County Savings bank was organized under state law December 24, 1884, with a capital of $50,000. It opened for business January 26, 1885, with these officers: Joseph Heald, president; J. C. Bonnell, vice, president; J. A. S. Verdier, cashier. Henry Idema became president in 1891. Seventeen years afterwards the bank was reorganized and became the Kent State.

The People's Savings bank opened for buisness in February, 1891, in the building then occupying the site of the new structure of the Grand Rapids Trust company, southwest corner Monroe and Ionia avenues. Its capital was $100,000, and its first officers were: Thomas Hefferan, president; Charles B. Kelsey, cashier. In 1915 William H. Gay was elected president, and on his death Eugene D. Conger succeeded to that office. In 1917 the capital was increased to $200,000 by payment of a 100 per cent stock dividend. The People's Savings was absorbed by the Kent State December 1, 1924.

The State Bank of Michigan was established in May, 1892, with a capital of $200,000. Its first president was Daniel McCoy and Charles F. Pike was cashier. In 1903 this bank took quarters in the Aldrich block, Ionia avenue and Fountain street. In 1908, along with the Kent County Savings, it was merged into the Kent State.

The Commercial Savings bank was organized May 4, 1903, with a capital of $200,000. Charles B. Kelsey, its organizer, became first president. Other officers were: Charles F. Young, Robert E. Shanahan and Lyman W. Welch, vice-presidents; Herbert N. Morrill, cashier. It opened for business in the fall of 1903 at Lyon street and Monroe avenue. In 1908 it absorbed the Fifth National. The business of Commercial Savings was purchased December 1, 1924, by the Kent State.


The Grand Rapids National bank is a result of the consolidation of two of the city's early banks, the City National, incorporated February 17, 1865, and the Grand Rapids National, incorporated January 20, 1880.

The City National took over the private banking business of Ledyard and Fralick, (organized in 1860), the original capital being $100,000. Thomas D. Gilbert was the first president, William B. Ledyard vice-president, and J. Frederick Baars, cashier. At the expiration of its first charter period in 1885, the name was changed to the National City bank, and the capital increased to $500,000.

The Grand Rapids National bank was founded with an original capital of $200,000, as a successor to the banking house of M. V. Aldrich. The first officers were C. H. Bennett, president; Freeman Godfrey, vice-president; and T. C. Sherwood, cashier. It merged with the National City in 1910, the name being changed to the Grand Rapids National City bank. Its capital was increased to $1,000,000, with a surplus of $200,000. In 1922, it took its original name, Grand Rapids National. In 1926 it purchased the assets of the Fourth National, which was then placed in liquidation.

Present officers are: Dudley E. Waters, president; Charles H. Bender, vice-president; A. D. Crimmins, vice-president and cashier. There are nine branches.


The Grand Rapids Savings bank was organized March 23, 1870, with a capital stock of $100,000, of which $50,000 was paid in. Its first officers were: A. X. Cary, president; George W. Allen, vice-president; and Marcus W. Bates, treasurer. In 1917 it purchased the Michigan Exchange bank and in 1924 bought the South Grand Rapids State bank. In 1917 it occupied its present home in the splendid building it erected at the northeast corner of Monroe and Ionia avenues. It now has fifteen branches inside the city and two outside. Its present officers are: William Alden Smith, chairman of the board; Charles W. Garfield, chairman of the board ex-com; Gilbert L. Daane, president; Arthur M. Godwin and Earl C. Johnson, vice-presidents, and Earl D. Albertson, vice-president and cashier.


The Kent State bank was a consolidation of the State Bank of Michigan and the Kent County Savings bank, June 1, 1908. Its capital was $500,000 and the first officers were: Henry Idema, president; John Covode, vice-president; Daniel McCoy, vice-president; A. W. Hompe, vice-president; and J. A. S. Verdier, cashier. The institution was located at Ottawa avenue and Fountain street until September 1, 1923, when it moved into its new home in the Morton hotel building on the northwest corner of Monroe and Ionia avenues. December 1, 1924, the Kent State absorbed the Commercial Savings and People's State banks. In 1925 the capital was increased to $1,000,000.

Present officers are: Henry Idema, president; A. W. Hompe, Heber W. Curtis, T. W. Hefferan, and Caspar Baarman, vice-presidents; Eugene Conger, cashier.


The Industrial bank grew out of an organization promoted by Carroll F. Sweet, Henry J. Bennett, John E. Frey and others, opening in 1918 at 68 Monroe avenue. In 1924 Mr. Sweet resigned as president and upon reorganization Mr. Frey succeeded him, Henry J. Bennett continuing as vice-president, Rudolph Bremer being made secretary and treasurer. In September, 1923, the bank removed to the Aldrich block, Ottawa avenue and Fountain street.


The Home State Bank for Savings was opened June 1, 1922, at the southeast corner of Monroe and Ionia avenues, with $250,000 capital. It was organized by Charles B. Kelsey, who became its president, with Martin D. Verdier as cashier. Mr. Verdier has since been promoted to executive vice-president and Neal Van Ostenburg is now cashier.


The Michigan Trust company, the first trust company in Michigan, was organized July 15, 1889, with $200,000 capital. Its original officers were: Lewis H. Withey, president; Willard Barnhart, vice-president; Darwin D. Cody, second vice president; Anton G. Hodenpyl, secretary. According to reliable information, it was the first trust company in the United States to be appointed receiver or gaurdian. In 1900 it absorbed the Peninsular Trust company, which had been organized in 1893. Mr. Withey served as president until December 11, 1923, when he retired to become chairman of the board of directors. He was succeeded by Frederick W. Stevens, president at this time. Other officers are: Henry Idema, Frederick A. Gorham, John H. Schouten and Noyes L. Avery, vice-presidents; Arthur C. Sharpe, treasurer; Guy C. Lillie, secretary. The capital is now $1,000,000 and resources nearly $4,000,000.


The Grand Rapids Trust company was incorporated April 2, 1913, with $300,000 capital and $150,000 surplus. The officers were: Robert D. Graham, president; Joseph H. Brewer, Lee M.Hutchins and William C. Grobhiser, vice-presidents; Hugh E. Wilson, secretary; A. H. Brandt, treasurer. Owing to ill health, Mr. Graham retired in 1925 and was succeeded as president by Mr. Brewer. The company had temporary quarters at 143 Ottawa avenue, but soon moved to the Peninsular club building. In the fall of 1926 it occupied its splendid new home at the southwest corner of Monroe and Ionia avenues.

Present capital is $600,000 stock issued and $600,000 surplus. Officers are: Joseph H. Brewer, president; Lee M. Hutchins, Alexander W. Hompe, Paul F. Steketee, James R. Hooper, Frank G. Deane, and Elmer F. Birdsall, vice-presidents; Arthur E. Wells, secretary; Henry C. Worfel, treasurer.


The Grand Rapids Clearing House association was organized December 30, 1885. Its charter members were the Old National, National City, Grand Rapids National, Fourth National, Grand Rapids Savings and Kent County Savings banks.


Let it be recorded; No incorporated bank in the City of Grand Rapids has ever been forced to close its doors.


Transcriber: Ronnie Aungst
Created: 16 January 2000
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net//etten1926/banks.html