Column sent to Frederick Leader and Frederick Press
November 2, 2010
|The 1915 postcard shows members of an early Frederick auto club with their cars lined up in front of the Bank of Commerce (later called the Dillingham Building, location of Hughes Jewelry Store)|
Early Frederick Banks Important to Community
Strong banks are essential for the growth of any community. That was as true in Tillman County’s earliest years as it is now.
In 1916, J.A. Mathis, assistant cashier of the First National Bank, wrote an article for the Frederick Leader about the history of Frederick banks. It was not a long history, because at that time Frederick had only existed for 14 years!
Mathis’ 1916 article follows:
“When southwest Oklahoma was opened for settlement and men from every state in the union came to this section, the only sign of commerce was immense herds of cattle, owned and grazed by large cattle owners of Texas, and the now prosperous section which includes Tillman County was one immense pasture.
“Since that time there have been many changes, the once wide expanse of prairie land has been settled and many prosperous homes, as well as cities, towns and villages, have driven the ‘cow puncher’ and his herds to a less populated area.
“Out of this wide expanse of country was hewn the garden spot of Oklahoma, Tillman County.
“Frederick, with no assistance save the energy and hustling of her citizenship, has been head and shoulders above every town in this section, and has the reputation all over the state of furnishing the keenest competition in every line of business.
“One of the first businesses to be established in Frederick was the Bank of Commerce, organized by J.L. Lair, W.T. Waggoner and others, opening with a capital of $5,000. The rapid increase in population and the amount of money being invested soon convinced the financial leaders of the then small and growing town that they needed more banking facilities, and later J.L. Lair organized the First State Bank with a capital of $10,000. This bank was afterward merged into the City National, then into the State Guaranty and finally absorbed by the First National.
“In 1907 W.E. Weathers and his associates organized the First National Bank, with a capital of $25,000, which they felt was demanded by the ever growing town and country.
“The Oklahoma State Bank was organized in 1910 by J.A. Carr and associates, with a capital of $25,000, at that time making a total of four banks, with a combined capital of $135,000, with surpluses of $15,000.
“Bank deposits from the earliest days of the opening of the town of Frederick have been on the increase and have grown from a mere pittance to within a small amount less than $1,000,000.
“The banking business, as in other countries being developed, has played a great part in the development of the country, and Frederick today stands in the forefront in this, as well as in other lines of business. You will find nowhere a more progressive banking fraternity with more business acumen and progressiveness.
“The combined capital and surplus of Frederick banks is above $200,000, with deposits in round figures of $1,000,000.
“The deposits are owned, in the greater part, by the substantial farmers of Tillman County, whose thrift and energy, coupled with their good business judgment, have played no small part in making Frederick and Tillman County one of the best in the state.
“The demand for money in this section has up to the present time been very strong and the banks have always been able to meet this demand, even to the extent of using their credit that the ability of the farmer and business man might not be impaired.
“There is a new factor in commerce today, which took hold upon the country like lightning, and many prophesies of pessimism were made concerning the effects upon business and country in general, namely, the automobile.
“The question has, as others, solved itself, and we are today in the midst of a great change, which has been brought about by the automobile.
“The use of the motor car has brought us closer together as a community and has a tendency to centralization of business and those who had bad dreads as to the outcome of the motor car upon business have found that it has increased business and made rural life more tolerable, enabling the farmer to enjoy life in a much greater measure.”
Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society Board. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.