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.

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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.

 

 

A Presidential Portrait: Remembering Robert B. Will

In honor of our 150th anniversary in 2017 we are taking a look back at bank history and the people who have helped to shape our bank into the successful, secure institution that it is today. Read on to learn about one of our former presidents!

Robert B. Will Sr.A lifelong McArthur resident, Robert Sr. was a prominent citizen of the community whose personal history was closely entwined with the bank’s history like many other members of the Will family both before and since.

He was born to Aaron Will Jr. and Blanche Buskirk Will on June 15, 1906. He married Helen Burson Will with whom he had two children, Robert B. Will Jr. and Sara Will Crow.

Robert Sr. graduated from McArthur High School and attended Ohio University. He was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in McArthur, various sportsmens’ organization, the Ohio Bankers Association, the Square and Compass Club of Ohio University and was an Advanced Conservationist.

He also was prominent in Republican political circles in Vinton County and in the region, serving as Secretary of the Republican Executive Committee of Vinton County and serving as Vinton County Commissioner.

In addition, he was prominently identified with the Masonic bodies of two counties. He was a member of Delta Lodge No. 207, F. & A.M. of McArthur, McArthur Chapter, Royal Arch Masons of McArthur, Wellston Council No. 120, R. & S.M. of Wellston and Jackson Commandery 53, Knights Templar of Jackson and Scioto Consistory, Scottish Rite.

Robert Sr. served as bank President from 1951 until his death in November 1965. An avid sportsman, Robert Sr. suffered a fatal heart attack while hunting with close friend John Gill, owner of Gill’s Chevrolet in McArthur.

During his tenure, the bank building was remodeled and enlarged in 1952 and again in 1964. This second renovation brought about the back lobby known as a Quick-Service Lobby, a one-window drive-in and the present brick frontage. The drive-in window was cutting edge for its time and provided customers a convenient, fast way to conduct simple bank transactions without exiting the car.

He also acquired the former Gill’s Chevrolet lot which he turned into a customer parking lot, providing customers ample opportunity to park and bank in addition to the on-the-go service offered at the drive-in.

Another contribution that Robert Sr. made to the bank, which is still felt today, is the creation of the bank’s Management Trainee Program. A student at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Banking, Robert Sr. wrote his graduate paper on how to recruit talented college graduates at community banks. His idea was to recruit the best and brightest young people and to give them challenging work. This program has produced a number of the bank’s finest leaders over the decades and the program continues to leave its mark on the bank more than sixty years since its inception.

Learn more about our 150th year here and about Bank Presidents Daniel Will , Aaron Will and John L. Will.  Find details on our 150th Anniversary Bash in McArthur here.

VCNB Announces Photo Contest

Vinton County National Bank is asking local history buffs to dig through their old photographs for their best images of Vinton County! A contest will be held to choose the best antique/vintage pictures and prizes will be awarded. This contest is being held in conjunction with the bank’s 150th anniversary celebration.

Pictures of local life from Vinton County’s past are welcomed including streetscapes, landscapes, architecture, people, industry, nature and all other aspects of local life during our bank’s history. Pictures should be at least 40 years old.

This competition is meant to give the owners of historic photos a way to bring their pictures out of the attic and into the public eye. All of the photos entered in the contest are subject to be included in a compilation presented on CD to local schools, historical society and the library for generations of future researchers to enjoy and learn from.

Pictures may be submitted digitally either on a disc or by emailing brandi.betts@vintoncountybank.com. Pictures submitted in person should not be matted or framed and can be submitted to Vinton County National Bank at 112 W. Main St., McArthur, OH 45651, ATTN: Brandi Betts. All submitted pictures will be carefully scanned and returned to the owners. Originals will not be kept. However, if the owner wishes to relinquish ownership we will help facilitate a donation to the historical society.

The very best pictures will be printed for use in a display in the bank’s McArthur office during our 150th celebration in July. Entries are due by June 2 and the contest winners will be announced during an Open House at the bank on July 1. There is no limit on the number pictures one person can submit however every picture must be accompanied by an entry form. Complete rules and entry forms can be picked up at the bank or found below. See below for complete rules, categories and prizes.

The bank is celebrating 150 years in business with events, specials and activities throughout 2017. The public is encouraged and invited to take part in the celebrations. For more information on the 150th, the bank’s history or the contest, visit http://www.vintoncountybank.com/150/.

 

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CBI Celebrates 150 Years of VCNB

Shareholders 2017 Group Shot (with Joe)

VCNB employees who have been with the company for 25 years or more were honored at the CBI annual Shareholders meeting Tuesday.  From left are Donna Kopis (31), Brenda Fee (36), Dan Donahue (29), Darlene Merkle (47), Cheryle Lange (30), Barb Clemons (28), Kim Ward (38), Sandy Bates (32), Joe Griffith (25), Julia Bolen (33), Mark Erslan (25), Cathy Rutter (26), Jane Nickels (37), Brenda Brooks (37), Chris Gill (25), and Tom Will (36). Not pictured are Ben Crow (32), Brenda Winegardner (31), Greg Westenhouser (30), Suellen Nice (29), Stacey Buckalew (27), Rita Teeters (32), Jaime Lines (29), Melanie Powell (31), Doris Courtright (33), Beth Patterson (27), and Bonnie Craiglow (27).

 

Lancaster, Ohio – Community Bancshares, Inc. (CBI) held its annual meeting Tuesday evening, celebrating 150 years of banking with nearly 200 guests in attendance. CBI is the holding company for Vinton County National Bank (VCNB), a community bank that opened in 1867.

Chairman Thomas D. Will, welcomed shareholders and their guests and reflected on the bank’s long, storied past as well as its promising future. He noted that VCNB is the seventh oldest bank chartered in Ohio and the 22nd largest bank in the state.

Will is a fifth generation banker whose ancestor Daniel Will founded the bank in McArthur, Ohio. He discussed some of the values and the people that have helped the bank evolve and grow over time to not only survive the decades but to thrive through the ages. “I sometimes wonder what Uncle Dan would have thought about the bank today but I hope he would be pleased that we have stayed strong and profitable,” Will said.

He then turned the gavel over to CBI Secretary/Treasurer Ben Crow who informed shareholders that total assets grew 1.7 percent in 2016 to $883.5 million. The book value of CBI stocks is $76.65 per share, an increase of 3.12 percent.

Vinton County National Bank President, Ronald Collins presented the state of the bank and introduced three major goals for the bank in 2017. Those goals are to embrace change, to take advantage of technology and to listen to the customer. “The bank of the future will not be decided in the board room, it will be decided by our customers,” Collins said.

Collins also recognized the bank’s second president, Aaron Will, for hiring the bank’s first female employee in 1925, years before most other banks were employing women. Belle Jenkins went on to become Vice President, to serve on the Board of Directors and to be employed by the bank for 55 years. He noted that Jenkins had paved the way for countless women at VCNB and said that among 221 employees at VCNB, 167 are women.

He noted that there were countless people over the decades who helped make the bank the strong institution that it is today and led a moment of silence for all those who came before and who could not attend that night.

He went on to debut a brief video about the bank’s history and to recognize employees who have 25 years or more of experience with the bank. Those employees are: Darlene Merckle, Kim Ward, Brenda Brooks, Brenda Barber Fee, Julia Bolen, Ben Crow, Sandy Bates, Brenda Winegardner, Cheryle Lange, Greg Westenhouser, Dan Donahue, Suellen Nice, Barb Clemons, Stacey Buckalew, Cathy Rutter, Joe Griffith, Chris Gill, Mark Erslan, Donna Kopis, Jane Nickels, Rita Teeters, Tom Will, Jaime Lines, Melanie Powell, Doris Courtright, Beth Ann Patterson and Bonnie Craiglow.

Vinton County National Bank is celebrating their 150 year anniversary throughout 2017 with special events, a new museum in their McArthur office and other activities. Learn more here or follow the bank on Facebook.

Honoring Our First Female Employee: Belle Jenkins

 

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Women who worked for the bank in 1967 are pictured above. In front, from left, are Belle Jenkins, Kathy Caudill, Rita Teeters, Leona Eberts and Ruth Molihan. In back are Rosemary Reynolds, Gerry Rodgers, Anna Mae Graves, Evelyn Swingle and Alice Ogle.

March 8 is International Women’s Day and we thought this would be a good time to talk about the first woman hired at Vinton County National Bank. Read on to learn about an inspiring woman who blazed a trail for generations of women to follow.

belle-jenkinsWhen Belle Jenkins began working at Vinton County National Bank, women had won the right to vote only five years before. It was uncommon to find a woman working in a bank and it was considered unlikely that a woman would rise through the ranks of a bank to establish a career and eventually hold the title of Vice President. Yet, Belle did just that. In fact she served the bank for 55 years, became Senior Vice President, was appointed to the bank’s Board of Directors in 1967 and commanded the respect of everyone around her.

Belle began working for the bank in 1925, long before most banks had recognized the value and importance of women in business. Belle did not apply for the job. Instead, Bank President Aaron Will actually sought out Belle, a McArthur area native and 1925 graduate of Campbell Commercial School in Cincinnati.

Many people in Vinton County remember Belle as the most distinguished woman in the bank. By all accounts, Belle was a true lady but she was demanding, a perfectionist who expected only the best from her coworkers and herself. In fact, many people who worked with Belle admit that they found her intimidating.

Kathy Caudill retired from the bank in 2014 after nearly 48 years of service. She worked with Belle from 1966 until Belle’s death in 1980. “Belle was a woman who held her own in what was a man’s world of banking. She paved the way for women to take on more than the secretarial or clerical roles of banking. She was always the lady, stern faced, beautifully coifed, impeccably dressed, and kept her business and personal lives separate. Those things were plenty to garner the respect of coworkers and bank customers. But we were still scared of her,” Kathy explained.

Bank retiree Christyne Calvin and daughter of former bank president John G. Will admitted that she and other young employees were daunted by her presence. “She was pretty imposing with her silver-white hair in its signature French twist and stern, professional manner. We were all afraid of her, except my Dad who could get away with teasingly calling her ‘Belly’ to her face,” Calvin recalled.

She did work to maintain a separation of personal and work and believed that a professional front should always be maintained at the bank. That’s why many coworkers did not realize the extent of the rich hobbies and interests she had outside work. Belle loved gardening and often brought flowers from the backyard garden of her McArthur home. She took ballroom dancing and traveled extensively, served many years as volunteer Savings Bond Chairman, was a member of the McArthur Church of Christ and McArthur Business and Professional Women’s Club. Belle also enjoyed amateur photography, putting this hobby to work recording her travel and other experiences.

In 1967, the Athens Messenger interviewed Belle for their Speaking of Women column. Here is a portion of their profile: She describes herself as a “look and shoot” camera fan and says she gets a lot of enjoyment from the color slides which she shoots on vacation trips as well as locally. Her camera also comes in handy to record the garden which she finds time to cultivate each season.

Coworkers did know that she drove to Columbus when the bank closed on Thursday afternoons to shop and to have her hair done. This was evident as she was one of the best dressed women in town with beautiful accessories and stylish hair. She valued professionalism and was known to send home young employees who pushed the envelope with their attire.

Kathy Caudill talked about that too. “Belle expected bank employees to present themselves in a professional manner. When anyone came to work dressed ‘inappropriately,’ he or she could expect to be sent home to change. It happened,” Kathy recalled. “And then pant suits became the fashion for women! It took a while but a memo was issued permitting us to wear them. And Belle looked fantastic in hers! Belle’s influence within the bank was greatly missed.”

Kathy also told a humorous story that illustrates the human side of Belle Jenkins. “I was in my first week of working at VCNB, in bookkeeping in the basement.Just as Belle came down the steps and around the corner, I dropped a large drawer of checks, sending them all over. Having had the fear instilled in me, I was sure my first week would also be my last. I was greatly relieved when she actually laughed and said “We all have those days!” and helped me pick them up. I learned early on that there was a human side there,” Kathy recalled.

Belle Slagle Jenkins was born in Jackson Township to C. Slagle and Margaret Ann Miller Slagel Allison. She was married to Elmer (Zeke) Jenkins until his death in 1950. The pair had attended the Vinton County Centennial Celebration that night, reveling with friends, before he passed away at home of an apparent heart attack.

She was found dead in her home on November 24, 1980. Belle had died in her sleep of an apparent heart attack at the age of 75. This bank rarely closes for unexpected reasons but both the McArthur and Wilkesville offices closed for her funeral.

Vinton County Courier columnist Gerry Frye noted Belle’s death in her popular column. “She has been a major part of the institution (the bank) since 1925 – an attractive lady who never lost her class and stayed forever young. I will miss her as a friend and advisor.”

While Belle has been gone for almost 37 years, her presence is still felt within the bank. She was truly a pioneer who paved the way for women in the VCNB Family and hundreds of women have enjoyed positions with the bank because of her.

A Presidential Portrait: Remembering Aaron Will

a-will-jrIn honor of our 150th anniversary in 2017 we are taking a look back at bank history and the people who have helped to shape our bank into the successful, secure institution that it is today. Read on to learn about one of our former presidents!

Aaron Will Jr. served as the second president of Vinton County National Bank, taking the reigns after the death of his uncle Daniel in 1924. While Aaron’s leadership of the bank lasted just fourteen years, his legacy is extraordinary.

Aaron Will ushered in a period of rebirth and progress, while strengthening his bank’s reputation as one of the most secure in the state. He boldly tore down the original bank building, replacing it with a beautiful new brick and marble building meant to impress the customer and to stand out in downtown McArthur. He launched the first organized marketing campaign for the bank, aggressively and consistently informing the public of the strength of his bank, the experience of his employees and the variety of the products offered.

Aaron is also remembered for hiring the bank’s first female employee, years before many of his competitors made room for women in banking. Perhaps most importantly, he navigated the bank safely through the Great Depression, exiting the Depression years stronger and more effective than ever.

Born in McArthur on May 22, 1872, Aaron was the son of Jacob S. and Rebecca Davis Will. He graduated from McArthur High School at the age of eighteen in 1890 and soon began working for the bank. Aaron was elected cashier of the bank the following year and worked as a banker for the next 48 years.

Aaron was one of the organizers of the McArthur Brick Company and was chairman of its first meeting in 1905. He was elected Treasurer and Director of this company, serving in this capacity until his death.

He is said to have taken much interest in civic affairs, supporting anything that would better the community. He was a founding member of the McArthur Rotary Club, belonged to the McArthur Episcopal Church and belonged to the Knights of Pythias. He was selected as alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1928 and Delegate in 1932 but was unable to attend because of ill health. He was again selected alternate in 1936.

Aaron died of Chronic Myocarditis on Apr. 13, 1938 at the age of 65. He left behind his wife Mary B. Will and children Mary Will Pilcher, Jean Will and Robert B. Will. His son Robert and grandson Bob Will would later follow in his footsteps to lead the bank.

Aaron’s impact continues to be felt in our 150th year as we continue to strive for the same strength and stability that Aaron insisted on throughout his career.

Learn more about our 150th year here or about our founding president here.

Remembering Our Founder

dan-will-portraitVinton County National Bank founder Daniel Will is remembered for building the bank and presiding over the institution for more than one-third of the bank’s history. He was a colorful character and a self-made man who spent a lifetime pursuing his own version of the American Dream.

Born in Hocking County, Ohio in 1832, Daniel Will came from a family of ten children. He did not come from a wealthy background. Instead, he is said to have started life with no capital, but an abundance of energy and industry. His formal education was confined to the “Three R’s” which allowed him to educate himself through observation and reading. He soon proved himself to be skilled in the areas of business and finance, expertise that proved useful in his early career owning general stores in Zaleski and McArthur.

daniel-will-2In 1850, he assisted in driving stock to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for an $11 monthly salary. He returned home just as he went to Pennsylvania – on foot – and taught a term of school that fall. By spring 1851, Daniel was employed as a clerk in his uncle Joseph K. Will’s store in McArthur. He remained with his uncle for three years, earning an annual salary of $125. He then entered a partnership with his uncle, remaining in this position until 1858. At that time, he withdrew from the partnership with his uncle and opened a store in the neighboring town of Zaleski. He soon took on another partner, his father Jacob G. Will.

Daniel eventually opened a general store in McArthur, operating not on credit like his competitors but on a cash system that allowed him to buy at large discounts and then sell lower than the general market price. Before long, he was selling more merchandise than the other three stores in town combined.

His brothers Jacob and Aaron began to clerk for him and became his partners in 1865. Two years later, he established the bank of Will, Brown and Company. When this bank consolidated with Vinton County Bank on September 1, 1868, Daniel was chosen to lead the new Vinton County Bank as president.

Daniel Will was a banker for 57 years, making it difficult to separate his life story from the story of the bank. He never married, devoting himself instead to business and community. He served the bank until his death in 1924 when he died at the bank at the age of 92.

Upon his death, he was memorialized by local newspapers including The McArthur Democrat Enquirer which remembered him as “the oldest and best known banker in the state, if not in the United States.”

Daniel is said to have had many interests outside of banking. He was the owner of the Will Hotel and of 1,600 acres of land in Vinton County as well as other real estate in McArthur. He was not a politician but, by all accounts, labored for the advancement and general welfare of his community.

Throughout his distinguished career, Daniel established a reputation for being steady and conservative in every way. Vinton County Historian Lew Ogan wrote, “Daniel Will informed my father once upon a time that he felt he was doing a favor to his friends and fellow citizens when he established a bank for their convenience so they could conserve their life earnings for a profit. This he did as his bank was known far and wide, a reputation, if you please, as a safe institution. When the hard times came in 1893 and 1894, Mr. Will was prepared to meet the situation.”

Daniel Will started life with few resources other than his own wits and a strong work ethic. He proved that hard work and determination could take a young man places in nineteenth century America and he set out to use his businesses to help his neighbors achieve their own dreams. Daniel Will today is remembered mostly by a framed portrait in our first bank in McArthur but he set into motion a business and a small-town banking mentality that can still be felt today.

VCNB Celebrates 150 Years

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VCNB began life in McArthur, Ohio as Vinton County National Bank. We have been in the same location for 150 years, except for a few months when we moved out to construct a new building in 1925. Today, the VCNB Financial Family has grown to be far larger than our founder Daniel Will probably ever imagined possible.

In 1867, a bank was founded to serve the citizens of Vinton County, providing a safe place to keep deposits and a reliable source for borrowing money. Today that bank is preparing to celebrate a milestone anniversary. Vinton County National Bank is 150 years old!

There aren’t a lot of businesses in this nation that can boast such a long and storied history. We have survived twenty-eight Presidents, recessions and depressions, war and peace. We were here for the construction of the Statue of Liberty, the rise of the automobile and the fall of the Berlin Wall. We are known for being early adopters of technology from the Xerox copier and the earliest computers to the most advanced technology the 21st century offers the world of banking.

Through it all we have worked to be good neighbors, to be a responsible corporate citizen and to always remember where we came from. This year, we’re also going to have some fun while we celebrate our 150th anniversary all year long!

While we haven’t been in some of our communities for 150 years, we want all of our offices to join in the fun by having an anniversary event in 2017. We also will be offering special promotions throughout the year.

Our biggest event though will be at our first office in McArthur. We will partner with the Vinton County Athletic Boosters to help with their 4th of July Celebration. We are still working on the details but we will be bringing a great entry to the parade, will host an open house at the bank, will sponsor entertainment for the festival and host a fun day with the Ohio Village Muffins. If you haven’t heard of the Muffins, check them out here.

They play baseball with mid-nineteenth century rules, uniforms and equipment. We’ll have them here to play baseball and softball games against our bankers and other community members. That day will feature some other nineteenth century fun including old fashioned games for the kids, food, music and more.

To say that we are excited would be an understatement. We are elated for the opportunity to celebrate our anniversary.

Incidentally, our bank building in McArthur was constructed in 1925 and dedicated with an open house on Saturday, July 4, 1925. Our open house to commemorate the 150th will be held on Saturday, July 1, 2017. We promise we didn’t plan it that way but we do think it’s a neat coincidence!

We will have a lot more details about our celebration in McArthur to release in the coming weeks and months. The celebration will begin with the parade on Friday, June 30 and will continue throughout the weekend. We hope you will mark your calendar and come for all the festivities.

We also are working on the events all our other offices are hosting or participating in this year. We will post details here and on Facebook as information becomes available. We also have a page on our website where you can learn about upcoming events, current specials and the bank. Be sure to bookmark the page and check back for new information!

You can also subscribe to this blog so that our stories are delivered straight to your inbox or follow us on Facebook where we have contests, vintage photos and other great content. Have an old photo or story about VCNB you would like to share? Tell us about it in the comments section!

A Chapter From Our Past

The following biographical sketch appears in the book “History of the Hocking Valley,” published by Inter-State Publishing Company of Chicago in 1883. It details the life of Captain J.W. Delay, a Civil War hero and first Cashier of the Vinton County National Bank. The book provides a wealth of information about cities, townships and villages, educational, religious, civil, military and political history and portraits of prominent people in the Hocking Valley. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did.

Captain (Major) J. W. Delay      

First Cashier of the Vinton County National Bank

Captain J. W. Delay, Cashier of the Vinton County National Bank is the son of Ambrose Delay and a a grandson of Rev. Jacob Delay.  The latter was born in Greenbrier County, Virginia, July 18, 1780, and died in Jackson County, Ohio, October 13, 1845.  Ambrose’s wife was Mary Crouch who survived him until December 24, 1854, when she died at Berlin Crossroads, Jackson County, Ohio.

Jacob Delay was extensively known throughout Southern Ohio as one of the pioneer Methodist ministers, and was remarkable for his great decision of character as well as forcible and positive manner of preaching the gospel.  Although he was a native of Virginia, he was of English extraction and became an early settler in Jackson County, Ohio.

Jacob was the father of eleven sons and one daughter, five sons still living.  Ambrose was the seventh and was born in Pickaway County, Ohio in 1810.  Ambrose died in Jackson County, Ohio (Berlin Crossroads) on April 1, 1864.

Ambrose’s wife, Rebecca S. Whitman was born in Greenbrier County, Virginia in 1811.  Rebecca died in Union County Iowa in 1881.  Their family consisted of six sons and four daughters, three sons and one daughter still living.

J.W. Delay is the oldest and was born in Jackson County on January 10, 1839. As his father was a farmer J. W. devoted his summers to the farm and his winters to school. At the age of seventeen years he entered the Ohio University, where he spent two years at which time he was tendered a clerkship in a store and accepted.  Two years later he was engaged at the Latrobe Furnace as a bookkeeper.  In that capacity he served until July, 1861, when enlisted in the United States Army.  On August 10, 1861, he was enrolled in Company K, Thirty-sixth Ohio Infantry, muster and appointed First Sergeant.  June 6, 1862, he was promoted to Second Lieutenant and First Lieutenant on January 16, 1863.

About this time he was placed on detached service on staff duty in the subsistence department, in which capacity he serviced during the war.  He was commissioned on October 24, 1864 by the President of the United States (Abraham Lincoln) as Captain of the United States Volunteers.  Also he was brevetted Major on July 10, 1865, just four years from date of first enlistment.

He participated in the battles of Lewisburg, Virginia, within five miles of the settlement of his grand parents on both sides.  He also fought in the second battle of Bull Run, Virginia and South Mountain in 1862.  During the following winter his regiment was in General Rosecrans’s campaign from Murfreesboro, participating in the battles of Chickamauga, Mission Ride, and many incidental fights of that campaign.

In the winter of 1863 – 64, he returned east and participated in the campaign of Generals Crooks and Hunter In West Virginia; subsequently in all the battles of the Shenandoah Valley under General Phillip Sheridan (Somerset, Ohio), serving until the war was ended.

Upon his return home in July, 1865, he entered the firm of H. F. Austin & Co. at Buckeye Furnace, Jackson County, Ohio.  J. W. Delay was engaged in the manufacturing of pig-iron, where he remained until October, 1866.  After that together with Mr. Austin and others, J. W. came to McArthur and organized the Vinton County Bank.  He did not move his family to McArthur until January, 1867.

When the bank was organized he was elected Cashier, and continued by re-elections to hold the same position until the consolidation with Will, Brown, & Co. in 1868.  The Bank became a “National” bank on October 1, 1872.  The name was changed to the Vinton County National Bank of McArthur with J. W. Delay remaining as Cashier and Daniel Will as President.

During the late war April 11, 1864, he married to Miss Samilda J. Buck.  They have for sons and three daughters, all living.

 

 

Pursuing a Dramatic Passion

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It’s Volunteer Appreciation Week! This is a time to recognize those volunteers who keep the non-profit organizations, churches and civic groups humming across the nation every day. At VCNB we encourage our employees to embrace volunteer projects that they think are important or that they find engaging. While we have a lot of great volunteers in our ranks, there’s one in particular who goes far above and beyond, giving hundreds of hours each year to a project she considers a true labor of love.

Longtime Friendly Bremen Banking Center employee Dee Conrad has spent more than ten years volunteering with the Lancaster High School Drama Department, starting when her middle son became involved with the productions. Her official title is Costume Mistress for major productions at LHS but when she describes her work, she clearly does much, much more than the job title suggests.

Lord Farquaad - Shrek the Musical

Lord Farquaad – Shrek The Musical

The Drama Department puts on two major shows every year: a fall play and a spring musical. Each production requires countless hours of research, searching through the costume storage, Goodwill, Salvation Army, eBay or people’s attics and basements to then manipulate or alter a costume piece or sew something from scratch to make each costume just right for the role and the time period. Dee explained, “We are responsible for every little thing each person needs from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet. That may mean a hat, eyeglasses, jewelry and, of course, the correct shoes in addition to the clothes they wear.”

But first she works with the Director on the production they will do and is involved in the audition process where a committee gives their input to the Director who ultimately decides who gets the roles in the play that may involve anywhere from twenty-five to fifty young people. Each cast member could require as many as five to ten costumes per show. Sometimes the shows are double-cast which allows the less seasoned actors to have a major role for the Thursday night show and also act as understudy for the more senior actors who perform on Friday and Saturday nights. Because these two actors may not be of the same height and build, two separate sets of costumes may be needed.
Once the cast is set, then the real work begins. Along with the help of another long-time volunteer who is the Art/Prop Mistress, each student is measured and their pictures taken. If the show takes place in a time period within the last 100 years, many of the current clothes in stock can be manipulated to fit. If the show is a “fanciful” show like last year’s “Shrek, The Musical” or this year’s “Monty Python’s Spamalot”, Dee takes as many modern pieces as possible and transforms them into period costumes. “For ‘Xanadu’ a few years ago, I used a bridesmaid dress and turned it into the costume of a Greek Goddess. Sometimes it isn’t the actual clothing but the logistics of a show that make it difficult. In “Drowsy Chaperone’, my leading lady had to appear to change into seven different outfits while singing and dancing, all in one musical number. There were many hours of thought and discussion with the Director and Choreographer about how she could accomplish this feat. I was able to finagle and maneuver each piece of clothing just right for her to get this done,” she said.

Donkey (Dakota) & Fiona (Grace)

Donkey and Fiona – Shrek the Musical

Sometimes Dee even sews a costume from scratch, often without a pattern but perhaps working from a picture. She cited one example where a small girl needed a “Madeleine” costume. Working off pictures of this famous literary character, Dee was able to create the collared dress, cape and hat.

Along with research on the right look for a period costume, she may need to learn about period accessories, how to distress a specific type of fabric to make a costume look old or dirty or how to clean and style a wig. Then there is the endless fitting, fixing and adjusting to make each costume look and stay correct. “I assist the actors with their hair and stage make-up, plus I try to look at the actors before they go on stage. Some of the changes the actors must do are so quick that another set of eyes to make sure a collar is down, a shirt is tucked in, a hat is on straight, etc., help to make the production go smoothly.”

The list of responsibilities and the work required for each production seems to be a mile long but Dee takes it all in stride when she says, “It does require a lot of creativity, thought, planning and work. But it always gets done somehow and the results are always spectacular! Our philosophy is that we don’t put on what people might think of as ‘high school’ productions. We do professional work that anyone would pay to see. We strive for excellence in everything we do, from the acting and dancing, to the sets, costumes, lighting and sound quality. Each of our young performers work extremely hard and put in hundreds of hours of their time to memorize their script, learn their blocking, sometimes learn a different accent, perfect their dance moves, etc. I applaud each one!”

Being Costume Mistress is clearly a labor of love for Dee but her efforts don’t stop with clothing and accessorizing the drama students. “I love these kids! I love working with them, seeing them grow from nervous Freshman to confident Seniors! We are family! I do try to be a positive adult role model for them. I try to encourage, teach, laugh and cry with them. I really enjoy seeing them grow and move on to whatever college or career choice they make,” she explained.

She mentioned that this family is looking for a new member as the Drama Department is seeking someone to build sets for future productions. The gentleman who has built spectacular sets for the group for many years is retiring from that position, providing an opportunity for someone else to become involved in the group.

Dee, who was a Theater major at the University of Hawaii, said that she has always loved the theater. She was also good in math at school, so when she needed a job when she moved to Lancaster, she landed a position in banking and has never left. Starting as a bank teller about 38 years ago, she has been with our VCNB family for nearly 18. Dee works as a Retail Banker in our office at W. Fair Ave. in Lancaster. “God puts you where He wants you. I’m a firm believer in that and I believe that I’m here for a reason,” she explained.

She credits her husband Steve for supporting her involvement with Drama all these years. He is also involved with LHS as Asst. Varsity Soccer coach as well as the official photographer for the drama productions. She said, “I’m very grateful to my husband for putting up with so much! A lot of things don’t get done at home when I am in the thick of a show. This time we had a stuffed cow on the dining room table for a few weeks and sequins tracked all over the house. The other day I apologized for all this and he said ‘I just love watching you do the things you love’. And I really appreciate him for that!”

The couple have three sons: Dan and John who both live in Austin, TX and Mike (along with his wife, Mayela) who is stationed with the Air Force in Tucson, AZ. Mike and Mayela are still involved in Community Theater there in AZ. Dee is also a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Lancaster as a Sunday School teacher and in the church choir.

“I really do love working with the kids! They’re a lot of fun and keep me younger!”

We thank Dee for being such a spectacular influence on young people at Lancaster High School and congratulate her for finding a passion that she so clearly loves. We believe the drama students at LHS are very lucky to have her. Great job Dee!