California Genealogy and History Archives
San Bernardino County and Riverside County
WILMOT T. SMITH — Although he has been a resident of San Bernardino for a comparatively short period, Wilmot T. Smith has already won a high position among its most representative business men and financiers, and as president of the Farmers Exchange National Bank, for five years he has occupied a commanding place in the affairs of the Gate City. Under his administration the resources of his institution have increased from $600,000 to $2,000,000. It is safe to say that no movement of real value to the city or county is inaugurated and carried to a successful completion without Mr. Smith's co-operation, for his connection with any project is a sufficient guarantee of its soundness and worth to his fellow citizens, and his refusal to countenance it is accepted as proof that it will not stand the acid test.
Wilmot T. Smith was born at Lake City, Iowa, October 29, 1876, a son of the late W. T. Smith, a native of Pennsylvania:, an extensive landowner and operator, who was one of the pioneers of Calhoun County, to which he migrated when that country was a wilderness and a swamp. During the war of the '60s he served as a soldier in the Union army, belonging to the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and saw considerable active service. After going to Iowa he became prominent in the affairs of Rockwell City, serving several terms as county treasurer, and also as county auditor and county recorder. The Smith family to which he belonged is one of the old ones in America history, and of Revolutionary stock and Scotch-Irish descent. His wife was Amelia Jack before her marriage, was born in Pennsylvania, and connected, through her grandmother, with the famous Pennsylvania family of Negley of Scotch-Irish descent, and Revolutionary stock. Mrs. Smith is also deceased.
After attending the public schools of Iowa, Wilmot T. Smith took a course in Epworth Seminary, and then, with his parents, left Iowa for Texas, where they arrived in 1891, and he became a student of the Daniel Baker College at Brownwood, Texas, and later of the Fort Worth University, from which he was graduated in 1900, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
For three years following his graduation Mr. Smith was profitably engaged in merchandising at Blanket, Texas, during that period so firmly established himself in public confidence that when he organized the Continental State Bank, he had the full co-operation of the best people, and was made its manager and cashier. He was also connected, as a director, with the Continental Bank & Trust Company of Fort Worth, which owned the Blanket Bank, and maintained these connections from 1904 to 1917, when he disposed of his interests and came to San Bernardino to accept the presidency of the Farmers Exchange National Bank of this city, which office he still holds
In 1920 Mr. Smith was connected with the organization of the Citizens National Bank of Rialto, of which he is now president. It was capitalized at $25,000, and now has resources of about $200,000. Mr. Smith is a director of the San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce, a director of the National Orange Show, which office he has held during his entire residence in this city, a director of the Young Men's Christian Association, treasurer of the local Lions Club and president of the Citrus Belt Gas Company.
Always willing to do his part to preserve the peace, and prepare for a proper defense in time of war, he served as a member of the National Guard while a resident of Texas, and during the late war he served on all of the bond committees and took a very effective part in all of the bond drives.
While he has always voted the republican ticket, aside from exerting his right of suffrage he has never been active in politics. He is a member of the board of trustees of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of San Bernardino, and is chairman of the finance committee. Active in church work and in the Sunday school, he has always endeavored, as a matter of personal conviction, to live up on the right side of every moral question affecting the welfare of the community.
In addition to all of his other interests Mr. Smith owns a small apple and pear ranch at Devore, in Cajon Canyon, San Bernardino County, where he and his family maintain a delightful summer home
On May 20, 1903, Mr. Smith was married at Abilene, Texas, to Miss Mabel Humphreys, a native of that state, and a daughter of T. J. Humphreys, now deceased, who was formerly a cattleman and early settler of Western Texas. He belonged to one of the old families of Mississippi. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have five children, namely : Amelia, who is a student of the San Bernardino High School, Class 1922; and Wilniot, Merle Roy and Clifford, all of whom are attending the grammar grades.
The Farmers Exchange National Bank was organized in 1881, and has had a long and prosperous career. According to the statement issued by this bank under date of March 10, 1922, its condition is as follows:
The banking house is conveniently located at the northwest comer of Third and E streets. The present officials are as follows: A. G. Kendall, chairman of the board; Wilmot T. Smith, president; J. Dale Gentry, vice president; S. E. Bagley, cashier; and Fred C. Drew, assistant cashier. The following compose the board of directors: A. G. Kendall, M. E. Dimock, F. E. Page, Wilmot T. Smith, John Anderson, Jr., C. A. Puffer, J. Dale Gentry, S. E. Bagley, and Dr. Edwin Wyte.
The bank moved into its present quarters December 10, 1919, and the description of its opening by the Index that afternoon, is well worthy of preservation as historical data. It is given in full as follows :
"Hundreds of the city's people are this afternoon attending the formal opening of the Farmers Exchange National Bank's new home at the comer of E and Third streets, extending congratulations to the officers and directors on giving the bank of the city so modern and handsome a banking home.
"The foyer has been handsomely decorated for the occasion with palms, plants and flowers while several handsome floral remembrances from friends grace the desks of the officials.
"During the afternoon and this evening until 8:30 o'clock the officers and directors and their wives will serve as a reception committee greeting each visitor personally and showing them through the new banking house, explaining its facilities for serving its patrons.
"A generous bunch of violets is being presented to each lady as she enters the bank while each gentleman receives a key purse as souvenirs of the occasion. The first 100 persons to enter the bank this afternoon after two o'clock were presented with a $1 savings deposit "with the bank as a starter.
"During the afternoon an orchestra stationed at the back of the room dispensed sweet music and will continue to do so all evening.
Another entertainment feature will be vocal numbers by a company of colored jubilee singers.
“Punch is being served all the afternoon and evening and it is expected that several thousand San Bernardino people will visit the bank and admire its facilities.
"The public is invited to visit the new home of the bank which has been 'Al’ since ‘81, sometime during the afternoon or evening. It will be open until 8:30 tonight."
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011