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.

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.

Banking Together For Generations: The McGlaughlin Family’s Rich History

After 148 years in business, you might expect VCNB to have a few longtime customers. But would you expect to see one family bank with us since the year we opened our doors? That’s the case with Laura McGlaughlin’s family.

Laura recently turned 95 years young and has a host of stories about local history, our bank and the family farm.

Laura McGlaughlin is pictured with her grandsons Devry McGlaughlin and Scott McGlaughlin. The family has banked with Vinton County National Bank since the bank opened in 1867.

The first McGlaughlin to come to Vinton County settled on forty acres while the Civil War was still raging in other parts of the country. Andrew Jackson McGlaughlin found forested land near Zaleski, constructed a log cabin and began a new life in 1863.

When Daniel Will opened the doors of the Vinton County National Bank in 1867, McGlaughlin was among our first customers – and the family has been loyal to VCNB ever since.

Laura moved to the McGlaughlin family farm in 1938 when she was an 18 year old newlywed and moving in with her husband Beryl’s family. The home she still lives in is the 1863 log cabin but with some additions and improvements. “I came here when I was 18 and I’ve never lived anywhere else since then,” she said. “It is beautiful and peaceful out here. I think God made me special for this place.”

Over those 77 years, she has witnessed much of the area’s rich history and has recorded many stories in notebooks – handwritten stories in a stack of notebooks that her grandson Devry called a “treasure trove.” There are numerous tales that remain unwritten, including that of one McGlaughlin ancestor who was an aide to General George Washington.

She has a number of her own stories. The sweet natured woman was a popular Sunday School teacher for fifty years. She learned to drive in 1984, proving to everyone that 64 is still a good age to learn a new skill. Laura is the type of lady who knows everyone in the community and who everyone knows and loves.

Generations of the Will family have remained hands-on at the bank and Laura remembers doing businesses with many of them. She specifically remembers Bob Will, Sr. and his son Bob Will, Jr. We were thrilled to stop in for a visit at her home this summer so Laura could meet the next generation of Wills involved in the bank. Retail Banking Officer Tom Oyer is the grandson of Bob Will, Jr. and he enjoyed meeting this customer who could share some stories about his family.

Today the farm is 450 acres and her grandsons Scott and Devry help her care for the property and are even helping her look to the future. She is the Secretary for their new business Lookout Ridge Resources. They are working to obtain tree farm certification for the first time in more than thirty years and hope to bring back the farm’s once successful apple orchard.

Like most doting grandmothers, she makes no attempt to hide her affection for her grandsons. “I’m proud of them. They take good care of me,” she said of Scott and Devry. The pair are also enamored with farm and area history, happily sharing newspaper clippings and other documents from Vinton County history and even giving a guided walk to see an old one-room school house and a magnificent ridgetop view of Vinton County. “It’s beautiful and peaceful up here,” Laura said.

What’s more important than the beauty of this rural farm or stories from the past? According to Laura, the answer is love. “I try to be kind to people. The McGlaughlins have always been about helping people and I always try to be kind and helpful,” she said. “Love is the most important thing.”

Retail Accounts Officer Brenda Brooks has been serving Laura and her family since she came to work at the bank 36 years ago. “Laura is such a sweetheart. She’s been my customer for years and years and I just love her,” Brooks said. “And now I get to work with her grandsons! Imagine having that many generations of one family bank with you,” she said.

Through the last 148 years the McGlaughlins have remained loyal customers, seeing the bank through three different centuries, economic change and several wars. As the bank has grown from one office to seventeen and as modern advancements have replaced pen and paper with typewriters and typewriters with computers, the McGlaughlin family has been with us for the entire journey.

Banking has changed much over the years since Daniel Will hung out his shingle in McArthur in 1867 but as a community bank, some things never change. We love our communities and value the people in them. Knowing our customers and being their bankers for not just a lifetime but for generations is what it’s all about.

We thank Laura McGlaughlin, her grandsons and all those who came before them for banking with us then and now. Here’s to another 148 great years!