Celebrating 150 Years and Counting

Big Flag

It isn’t every day that a bank celebrates a big milestone anniversary like the big 1-5-0 so we threw ourselves a big party earlier this month. If you attended the festivities, we thank you for being part of our celebration. We can’t tell you what it meant to have so many of our customers and friends come out to support us.

When we started planning our festivities, we knew we didn’t want it to be all about us. We’re a community bank so we wanted to do something for the community that gave us our start. Since we’re an all American company, we chose to partner with the folks who stage our July 4th celebration and to give their event a little boost.

The results were fantastic.

Wills with flag

Members of the Will Family are pictured outside the Bank during the 150th Anniversary Open House.  Photo Courtesy The Vinton County Courier

Working with the Vinton County High School Athletic Boosters to enhance and support their event was a great experience. They were open to letting us add some things to their schedule that we might not ordinarily have. They also were kind enough to name the bank and the Will family grand marshals of their parade.

It was a real thrill to have the Will family come home from places both near and far to ride in John Hutchinson’s horse drawn wagon while our employees passed out what else, but American flags! This parade is always fun because it includes all the student/youth athletes, classic cars, queens and clubs that are willing to walk, ride or march the route through downtown McArthur.

The next day we had an open house that brought together so many familiar faces – it felt like a family reunion! The ladies of the McArthur United Methodist Church served some of the most delicious homemade pie you’ll ever taste and the Adelphi Band (which has been around for over 130 years) was kind enough to provide a lively soundtrack for the day. The speeches were short and the smiles were big as we officially opened the Bank’s new museum and asked our guests to vote for their favorite photo contest entry (more to come on that next week).

Special thanks to our friends Vinton County Juvenile/Probate Judge Bob Grillo and Pastor Carl Radcliff for joining President Ron Collins, McArthur Branch Manager Jane Nickels and VCNB Board Chairman Tom Will in speaking to the open house attendees in a brief ceremony.

That night we sponsored a concert by Jason Michael Carroll, a country artist who has enjoyed some commercial success and who put on a first rate show. The crowd loves this guy and we think he loved Vinton County.

The next day we set up shop at the Vinton County High School where we hosted something a little different – we hosted a Civil War themed day for the family! Since the bank was born in the years following the war, we thought it would be fun to play some nineteenth century baseball and invite some special guests including President Lincoln, General George Armstrong Custer, Steve and Lisa Ball who provided beautiful music for the day, and a gentleman who taught us about the life of an Ohio soldier during the war.

The Ohio Village Diamonds womens’ team played a rousing round of softball that ended in a tie with our local team of alumni softball players. The Ohio Village Muffins mens’ team eeked out a win over our team of bankers and local school employees. In the nineteenth century, they played ball by different rules (think no mitts and you can’t run past a base) so there was a learning curve for our local players. But at the end of the day, they were happy, if not a little worn out from playing baseball in the hot sun in old fashioned uniforms.

The weather forecast was questionable but turned out to be perfect at all the right times throughout the weekend. We’re grateful for that. We’re also grateful that so many people came out to our events and had a good time. That’s what it’s all about. We think 150 years is pretty important but for this weekend, what was more important was knowing that our guests and all the folks who participated in the festivities had a great time.

In the grand scheme of things, the weekend was short but the memories will last a lifetime. We expect this anniversary to live on in our bank’s history for a long time to come and we were honored to take our place in history as the employees who got to be there for it.

See below for a few pictures from the festivities!

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Tom Will is a fifth generation banker whose ancestor Daniel Will founded the bank. Here’s the complete text of his speech from the open house:

In 1867, shortly after the Civil War had ended, two union officers Captains McDowell and James W. Delay opened the Vinton County Bank. Within in a few months my three great uncle Daniel Will opened his own bank. The next year the banks combined with Dan becoming the President of the bank. Uncle Dan was President of the Vinton County National bank until 1924. He died at his desk in the bank at the age of 92. I will tell you right now, I do not plan on working at the bank that long.

My dad, Bob Will stated that the main reason why Dan became a banker was that he first started in business with a general store. His store had a safe and it was a secure place to keep money.   So, Dan would keep some customers cash in his safe, and he made loans to customers to buy merchandise.   Safe keeping customer’s deposits and making loans is the core of community banking. 150 years later we are still performing the same service.

Dan did not marry or have any children, so he left the care of the bank to his two nephews. Aaron Will, my great grandfather and John L Will, Christyne’s grandfather. Since Dan, the bank has had eight other presidents. I have had the pleasure of knowing six of them.

150 years is a long time to remain in business for any company. According to Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, their scientists state that the average business will last about ten years. Our bank started before there were light bulbs, cars, telephones, and radios.

I compared the largest 25 banks currently chartered in Ohio and only 6 banks of those banks were older than VCNB. Of those six, only two were more than four years older than us. The oldest bank now chartered in Ohio is Chase bank in 1824. Chase was started in New York with the help Aaron Burr under the name of the Manhattan Company. Yes, that Aaron Burr who that the famous duel with Alexander Hamilton.

The second oldest bank is Key bank which also started in New York state in 1849.

The other four large Ohio banks that were started after 1863 in order were U.S. Bank (the former First Cincinnati), 1st Financial of Hamilton, Fifth Third, and Huntington.  

Currently we are the 24th largest bank in Ohio out of 191 banks. The number of banks in Ohio and nationally, continues to decrease as a result of more government regulation and automation.

I sometimes wonder what Uncle Dan would have thought about what has happened to his bank after 150 years. I hope he would be pleased, as the bank grown and remained strong and profitable. Some things have changed, like computers, cards and mobile banking. But others have not, people still want loans for homes and to start a business. They want a safe place to keep their money. And we still have a safe or vault.

They want to speak with a knowledgeable person with the bank if they have a financial problem.

I think we have done pretty well with adapting to change over the last 150 years.   But a lot more change still needs to occur.

Today, we are investing more capital into trying to provide our customers with better service. By the end of the year we hope to allow customers to apply for credit cards and auto loans at home via the internet. We have stream lined our home loan process by allowing electronic signatures for disclosures.

I am excited about our new Jackson County Banking center which will offer full branch services later on this year.

Uncle Dan started a good business 150 years ago and I look forward to seeing that it is ready for the next 150 years.

 

 

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