Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, September 19, 1993, pg. 4
The local branch of City Bank & Trust Company in Albion is 100 years old this month. On September 30, 1893, the Commercial & Savings Bank was organized, with a starting capital of $35,000. Initial officers were: John G. Brown, president; S. B. Allen, vice-president. Directors: Dr. Samuel Dickie, Washington Gardner, L. J. Wolcott, Fred F. Hoaglin, Edward Sutton, F. E. Marsh and Robert Frost. The bank’s first cashier was Palmer Montgomery Dearing, who twenty years later was sent to prison as part of the forgery scheme involving the Albion National Bank and the Cook Manufacturing Company.
The bank was first located in the Irwin Block, named after Frank L. Irwin who served as Albion City Treasurer and a postmaster. The Irwin Block is located on the southeast corner of Superior and Erie Streets, andis the location of the Dairy Bar/Franzoni’s Pizza today. When workmen were constructing the building during the summer of 1893, they broke open one of the foundation stones and found hundreds of diamonds, so they thought. The workers hurriedly scooped up the gems and stuffed them in their pockets, with visions of riches and a leisure life ahead. The expresssion of human greed was quite apparent. Their hopes were dashed however, when it was readily discovered tha the “gem stones” were just ordinary worthless pyrite.
John G. Brown served as president of the bank from 1893 until his death in 1909. He was followed by Dr. Frank E. Palmer who served as the second president of the bank for two years until his death in 1912. Homer C. Blair became the bank’s third president in 1912, and served in that position for nearly 40 years. Born in Leslie in 1874, Blair came to Albion in 1894 and operated a drugstore at the corner of Cass and Superior for several years, and was a prominent Albion citizen. Blair retired as president in 1951, and remained on the board of directors until 1955. He died at the age of 100 in 1972.
Blair was one of the owners of the A-B-C-D Land Company (Albion-Blair-Cooley-Darrow), which purchased the land the Stone Mill of Jesse Crowell and vicinity in 1915, and developed it into the bank’s new headquarters. Work on the new bank building began in February 1916, and the Stone Mill was reconstructed. The bank opened in its new quarters on New Year’s day, 1917, with a picture of Jesse Crowell being displayed as part of an open house.
When the Albion State Bank closed in December 1931, the Commercial & Savings Bank became the only bank in town until the Bank of Albion opened in 1956. The Commercial & Savings Bank was merged with the Jackson City Bank & Trust Company on March 1, 1955, and the local facilities became a branch of the new bank, headquartered in Jackson. The last president of the Commercial & Savings Bank was Herschel C. Fox.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a couple of photographs. The first is of the bank’s first president, John G. Brown (1850-1909). The second is of the first check issued by the bank, featuring an artistic stylized design. Congratulations to the local branch of City Bank on its 100th anniversary in Albion.
John G. Brown, First President of Commercial & Savings Bank
Next: THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic