"HISTORY OF WABASHA COUNTY"
Compiled by Dr. L. H. Bunnell
Published Chicago by H. H. Hill, Publishers, 1884
Republished Currently by Higginson Books
This association, having for its object the saving and loaning of moneys, to enable its members thereby to purchase lands and erect buildings for themselves, was duly incorporated under the provisions of the statute of the state, in such cases provided, May 5, 1883, and the articles of incorporation filed with the secretary of state four days thereafter. The incorporators were thirteen in number: Malcolm Kennedy, C. Jellison, H. B. Jewell, John Stewart, John Schwirtz, E. J. Dugan, F. J. Luger, Andrew Campbell, Peter Monroe, C. L. Chamnberlain, J. H. Evans, John Gardner and John Lakey. The incorporators composed the official board and the directory. Malcolm Kennedy was chosen president; C. Jellison, secretary; H. R. Jewell, treasurer; John Stewart, attorney. The rest of the incorporators formed the board of managers for the first three years from date of incorporation, and were divided into classes of three each, Messrs. Schurtz, Dugan and Luger serving for one year, Messrs. Campbell, Monroe and Chamberlain for two years, Messrs. Gardner, Evans and Lakey for three years. The legal existence of the association was fixed at thirty years, commencing May 24, 1883; Wabasha was made the principal place of business, and the maximum liability of the corporation fixed at one thousand dollars.
The capital stock of the association was fixed at five hundred thousand dollars, to be issued as called for in shares of two hundred dollars each, each share taken to be paid for in monthly installments of one dollar each. The first series issued was one thousand shares, no new issues to be made within six months of the date of first series. Of this thousand composing the first series, seven hundred shares were taken within sixty days of issue, and the stock rose to a premium of four per cent. The first loan of six hundred and twenty-five dollars brought seventy-five per cent, bid, the second loan of four hundred and ninety-five dollars brought one hundred and one, and the third loan of six hundred dollars was taken and one hundred and twenty-five.
The meetings of the association are held in the rear room of the bank building, and its benefits seem fully appreciated by the members. The tax for incidental expenses is fixed at thirty cents per annum per share.
Wabasha Mill Company was organized in September, 1882, with a capital stock of seventy-five thousand dollars. The incorporators were James G. Lawrence (president), Lucas Kuehn, W. P. Dugan, H. P. Krick, L. F. Hubbard, P. A. Richards (secretary and treasurer), and J. E. Young (head miller). The business of the company is the manufacture of flour, at this point. This industry was started as a partnership concern, in 1872, by Downer & Lowth, who erected the mill and conducted the business about five years, when they sold out to Messrs J. G. Lawrence, W. H. Campbell and A. G. Foster. Mr. J. G. Lawrence became the sole owner by purchase in 1878, and managed its affairs successfully until the formation of the joint-stock company as above stated. The mill property is on the east half of block seventeen, corner of Second and Arch streets, and connected by spur track with the main line of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railway. The mill is a solid stone structure three stories high, 36 x 40 feet, and having an addition on the west 26 x 60 feet, one story in height, containing the boilers and engine, rated at seventy-five horsepower. The mill, erected in 1872, was originally a burr mill with six run of stones, and had a capacity of nearly eighty barrels a day. Various improvements were introduced from time to time until 1881, when the whole mill was remodeled and made a full roller mill. By this change the capacity was increased to two hundred and twenty-five barrels a day, and their average daily product raised to one hundred and seventy-five barrels. The supply of wheat is largely local and is supplied by the company's elevators at Lake City and Wabasha. Market for flour is a home one, the reputation of their brands being such that the demand exceeds the supply, orders being principally from the river towns in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa and up the Chippewa valley. The whole force of the mill is eighteen hands.
Early in August, 1883, the mill company broke ground for their new elevator, which adjoins the mill on the south. This is a solid stone structure, 36 x 46 feet, with side walls rising 45 feet, and the whole surmounted by a cupola 24 x 12 feet. The storage capacity of the elevator will be twenty-five thousand bushels, and in it will be placed the machinery for cleaning grain heretofore occupying needed space in the mill building. This will materially increase the room for handling flour and conducting milling operations generally, and add much to the comfort of the millers and their assistants who have been confined to quite cramped quarters hitherto. The mill has been most successfully run, and during the past twelve months there has been scarcely an hour's intermission of the actual running time of the mill for changes or repairs.
The true inwardness of the early history of banking operations in the city of Wabasha is by no means easy to determine. The attempts made by early financiers were not particularly fortunate in results to themselves, and in some cases equally disastrous to the community. Whether this condition of things arose from lack of capital, business capacity, or other causes over which the bankers who attempted to established business had no control, we cannot now say; the facts alone remain, that prior to 1872 no really successful banking house was established in Wabasha. The first attempt in this direction was made in May, 1857, at which time H. Rogers & Son opened a banking office on the corner of Pembroke street and the Levee. Mr. Rogers was a prominent business man of Zanesville, Ohio, who came west in the flush times of 1856, and had made some investments in St. Paul before coming to this city, in the spring of 1857. He purchased quite freely of real estate here, paying wild-cat prices for lots to which he could subsequently gain no title, on account of the vexed question of half-breed scrip, and being squeezed in the financial crises of 1858-9 closed his banking house, abandoned all his property here and departed for St. Paul, having permanently invested about seventeen thousand dollars in this city, from which he never realized a dollar.
For several years after the withdrawal of Rogers & Son from the business circles of Wabasha, no attempt was made to do a banking business here, although the mercantile firm of Kepler & Jackson sold exchange on the eastern banks when such paper was demanded. Matters were in this condition until the spring of 1864, when W. W. Prindle (county treasurer) and N. F. Webb (clerk of the district court) former a partnership under the firm names of Prindle & Webb, and opened a banking office in a wooden building on the corner of Main and Alleghany streets, where Lucas Huehn's drygoods house now is. The bank location was subsequently changed to the south side of Main street, where they fitted up the small building now occupied by James G. Lawrence as an office (between Alleghany and Walnut streets), and in this they conducted business several years. The firm as it originally stood was subsequently changed to Webb, Prindle & Chase, and finally became Webb & Co. The amount of capital invested in this business cannot now be ascertained. It is the impression among those best fitted to form a correct opinion, that while the individual members of the house had a limited capital available for banking purposes, they were able to command unitedly a considerable sum, but this of necessity was only conjecture. The business was strictly private, and there was no means of knowing, then or now, the amount of capital employed. Webb & Co. continued in business until April 12, 1872, when the bank suspended payment, too thoroughly crippled to even attempt a settlement. An assignment was made to E. M. Birdsey, who, when the bank was declared bankrupt, was appointed assignee in bankruptcy for the settlement of the estate. The creditors subsequently received fifteen cents on the dollar, the liabilities aggregating thirty three thousand eight-one dollars and thirty-one cents; and thus closed the second chapter of banking history in Wabasha.
About two months after the failure of Webb & Co., a banking house was opened in the Campbell block (on Main, a few doors west of Pembroke), by A. D. Southworth and W. J. Florer, under the firm name of A. D. Southworth & Co.; capital, ten thousand dollars. This banking establishment soon gained the confidence of the mercantile community, did a successful business, was subsequently removed to the north side of Main street, just east of Pembroke, and continued in business until the fall of 1881. W. J. Florer having died in August of that year, and A. D. Southworth being unable to attend to business through ill health, the banking house of A. D. Southworth& Co. dissolved, and the bank of Wabasha was organized as its successor, September 1, 1881. This was the first bank organized in this city under the state law. The incorporators of the bank of Wabasha were C. F. Rogers, C. F. Young, L. S. Van Vliet, A. D. Southworth, James G. Lawrence, W. S. Jackson, Knud Johnson, Dr. J. J. Stone, J. H. Evans, H. P. Krick, Samuel Huschy, Henry Funk, Mrs. C. E. Krick, Mrs. M. A. Florer, Mrs. A. L. Hills, Mrs. M. E. Wetherbee, Loring Ginthner, H. J. Whitmore and Lucas Kuehn. The capital stock was placed at fifty thousand dollars, of which one-half was paid in. W. S. Jackson was elected president, and held that office until his death in February, 1882, when he was succeeded by Lucas Kuehn, the present president. Mr. Bruce Florer, who had been for some time cashier of the bank of A. D. Southworth & Co., was elected cashier for the bank of Wabasha at its organization, and still retains that position. The present board of directors are Messrs. Lawrence, Van Vliet, Young, Krick and Johnson. The annual deposits aggregate one hundred thousand dollars; the bank has a surplus of three thousand five hundred dollars, and the semi-annual dividend is six per cent. October 1, 1882, the bank removed to its present central location on the north side Main street, midway between Pembroke and Alleghany streets, in the new building which the Oddfellows had just completed at that time. The bank occupies the main floor 24 x 90, the banking office being in the front with directors' rooms in the rear. The office is well provided with all the conveniences, and safeguards against fire and violence, having a good fireproof vault and safes, with Hall's improved time-locks. At a meeting of the stockholders of the bank held June 30, 1883, it was decided to make a change in the condition and character of the bank, making it a bank of issue as well as of deposit and exchange. An application for a charter as a national bank, under the general banking law of the United States, was applied for and granted.