The First State Bank of Humboldt
Mark Baldwin, Jr.
Since the first man walked upon the earth he
had depended upon other people to fulfill his needs. At first, all he had to
"pay” for needed goods was something he had in multitude, like
venison, furs, etc. Then, a few hundred years before the time of Christ,
someone found that he could use something that was of value to all. At first it
may have been just pebbles or pretty rocks, but it finally lead to a coin made out
of metal. (Paper money was used at a very early time in
The banks were often the "key" to settling a given area. It helped the farmers with financial problems until their farms began to show some profit. The First State Bank of Humboldt was no exception. Edward Florance, (widely known as Ted) can be considered the founder of” Our" bank.
In 1880, Ted's father came down from
Well, the great day came at last. The day
that the First State Bank at Humboldt opened its doors. The date,
The bank, - well for that matter, everyone was busy on Saturday night. This was the one time that people of the locality came into town to trade and socialize. They visited in the stores, on the streets, the lumber yard, filling stations, cafe, and blacksmith shop. There was usually a dance going on somewhere where they could go for enjoyment. It was on Saturday night that many farmers brought their cream to town and cashed their checks. These checks amounted anywhere from $1.50 to $5.00.Imagine, if you will, Humboldt on Saturday night, everyone having a” Gay Ole Time."
Ted Florance's biggest test was about to
befall him: THEDEPRESSION. During the depression many banks failed, but with
some goodluck and because of his great money mind he was able to save the First
State Bank of Humboldt from closing its doors to the public. The depression brought
hard times to all, but having a stable financial establishment at hand eased
some of the hardship. By the end of the depression the First State Bank of
Humboldt was the only one out of seventeen in
During the early 30's, the prices of farm products fell so low that many farmers had mortgages on their land and equipment foreclosed and were forced out of business. A great deal of the land was taken over by mortgage and investment companies. In many instances, the original owner was kept on the land as a renter and after prices and conditions generally improved bought his land back.
At harvest time, one of those years the prices of barley was 25 cents a bushel,-- other grains comparably low: Some of the farmers who could, decided to keep their grain and feed it to pigs, cattle and sheep, hoping to get better prices for their grain through feeding it to livestock and found that after selling their animals they not only got no more for their grain but lost their work besides. There were few granaries in the country in those days and most farmers had to sell at harvest time or during the interval that the elevator could hold it. The bank helped many of them out.
During the early 1930's, Maurice, oldest son of Ted Florance, was mostly in charge of the bank and seemed to have most to do with its management. He then lived in what was known as the Jim Florance house across the tracks on the site where the Virgil Bockwitz house now stands. When Maurice bought the Hill farm at Northcote and moved there it was his home until he sold his interests here and left this locality.
Meantime, Mrs. Stella Moore had joined the staff in the bank. She was a sister of Mrs. John Easter who still lives in Humboldt next to the Methodist church. Stella was employed by the bank until her death not too many years ago.
While in the banking business, Maurice acquired a great amount of farm land and while he lived in Humboldt kept his equipment on what is now the Bockwitz farm. The old barn, now expanded and converted to an elevator was large enough to hold 125 horses. Various other buildings have been torn down and moved away.
The large blue house next to the railroad tracks on the west was built by Ted Florance and occupied by his family for a number of years, then sold it to Tom Brown who was also a director of the bank. He operated a large lumber yard on the spot where the Warren Isley's now have their home. After Tom's death his son Don, and his family lived in it. Don ran the filling station and had the oil and gas business until he accidentally shot himself some years ago. Since that time Dennis Diamond and his family are living there.
Like most banks during the depression the Humboldt bank had some robberies,-- really, we had just two robberies,- one of which was fruitless for the robbers.
The first robbery took place in 1929. Some campers, not far from the bank woke up in the middle of the night because of some strange noises. The next morning they found out that there had been an attempted robbery. Supposedly, the robbers weren't able to even get into the bank.
The next robbery has more meaning to me for
my grandfather, Phil Baldwin, then officer in charge of the U.S. Immigration
Service and Border Patrol aided in the chase to catch the robbers. This robbery
took place in 1930. As it turned out, the same three men who attempted the first
robbery tried again. They walked into the bank with their guns where they
forced Ted Florance, Clifford Easton, Cashier and Sam Johnson, a local farmer
to hand over the money, $800.00, and forced them into the vault and made a
hasty get-away. As soon as the news of the robbery was out, my grandpa and
Maurice Florance set out after them. Unfortunately, their attempt was fruitless.
Later it was found that the robbers were Canadians. The get-away car was
noticed a few days after the robbery outside a cafe in
The Humboldt Bank continued to do business here until 1932when it was moved to Hallock under the name of the Northwestern State Bank with Maurice Florance (Ted's oldest son) in charge. The bank was housed in the building where Ole Sjostrand now has his jewelry store.
The bank building at Humboldt was used as a restaurant
and cream buying station for some time after the bank moved to Hallock. Edith
Blodgett, now of
The First State Bank of Humboldt can be considered as one of the vast number of pillars that helped to form our country.