San Bernardino Banking History

The Bank of San Bernardino

The custom of commerce has made the banks the recognized depositories of the coin and currency of the company, and hence their deposits indicate the working cash capital in the community where they are situated; the daily transactions over their counter are the truest index to the state of business in that community and the safest criterion by which to measure its prosperity. Reckoning upon this basis San Bernardino occupies a proud position among the sisterhood of counties in Southern California, for her banks are among the most solid and prosperous of the financial institutions in this part of the State. Of the four banks in the city, the Bank of San Bernardino is the oldest in the county and the one most closely allied with its history and progress. This bank was established as a private banking house, and opened its doors for business in the early part of 1875, with a capital stock of $50,000. Mr. Lewis Jacobs was its founder, and has since been its president and sole manager; throughout its entire existence, the method of management has been conservative and safe, and the Bank of San Bernardino has been the friend and encourager of every worthy enterprise of a public character, thus greatly benefiting and enhancing the prosperity of the county.
The bank has increased its capital stock to $200,000; has paid $30,000 dividends, and has an undivided surplus of $11,000. It does a general commercial banking business, and from the day it opened to the present, although it has passed through a financial crisis that closed the doors of many of the large banks in the State, it has been ready to meet every obligation when due and presented for payment. The bank building is situated on the south side of Third Street between D and E streets, and was built and fitted up with all the requirements of a first-class banking house.

The Farmers’ Exchange Bank

The Farmers’ Exchange Bank, of San Bernardino, one of the most important and substantial financial institutions of Southern California, was organized as a State bank in May, 1881, and opened its doors for business September 1 of that year, with $20,000 capital stock paid in. The officers were Byron Waters, President, and E. H. Morse, Cashier. The bank was situated next door to its present location on the north side of Third street between D and E streets. The career of the bank has been progressive and prosperous, and it has played a prominent part in the rapid growth and development of San Bernardino County to its present proud position. January 1, 1884, Mr. Waters resigned and H. L. Drew succeeded him to the presidency, which office he ably fills. January 1, 1888, Mr. Morse retired from the position of cashier and S. F. Zombro took his place. In 1888 the bank erected the elegant building it now occupies, which is one of the finest and most commodious banking houses on the Pacific coast. It is a three-story structure, 45 x 110 feet, built of brick, with brownstone trimmings and massive, arched doorways of polished Slover Mountain marble. It was erected at a cost of $43,000, and the banking offices, which occupy the first floor, are models of convenience in arrangement and artistic beauty of finish. The best indications of the judicious management and steady growth of the business of the bank is furnished in the statements published January 1 of each year, and is here reproduced: January 1, 1883, capital paid up, $21,900; deposits, $152,725. January 1, 1884, capital paid up, $30,000; surplus fund, $8,797.72; deposits, $163,037.80, January 1, 1885, capital paid up, $50,000; surplus, $12,916.63; deposits, $147,796. January 1, 1886, capital paid in, $50,000; surplus, $10,-410; deposits $271,351.63; January 1, 1887, capital paid up, $50,000; reserve, $55,544.62; deposits, $357,000. January 1, 1888, capital paid up, $50,000; surplus, $87,047; deposits, $688,697. January 1, 1889, capital paid up, $50,000; surplus, $96,000; deposits, $328,587. July 1, 1889, capital paid up, $50,000; surplus, $110,000; deposits, $301,142.50.
The shrinkage in the business showing in 1889 as compared with the previous year is due to two causes, namely: the depreciation in value and consequent depression in business resulting from the collapse in the speculative boom of 1887-’88, and the establishing of two new banks in San Bernardino.

The First National Bank

The First National Bank of San Bernardino was organized in June, 1886, with a capital stock of $100,000; and there being no suitable rooms accessible for its occupancy in the city, the corporation purchased the building on the northwest corner of Third and D streets, and had it fitted up expressly for the use of the bank. A large fireproof vault was built in which was placed the elegant new burglarproof safe manufactured to order by the Hall Safe &, Lock Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. The bank opened its doors for business on September 10, 1886, with J. H. Smith as president and W. N. Crandall as cashier. A year after the hank opened Mr. Crandall retired and Joseph Brown, the present cashier, was elected as his successor. The career of the First National Bank has been one of continuous prosperity from the day of its opening, and it is now making as much money for its stockholders, notwithstanding the general depression ill business consequent upon – the speculative boom of two years ago, as at any time in its history. The bank has regularly paid semi-annual dividends, and has an accumulated surplus of $15,000. It does a large domestic and foreign exchange business, drawing direct on banks in the principal cities of the United States and Europe. The stockholders are mostly residents of the county, and are among the shrewdest and most successful businessmen in this part of the State. The bank receives rentals on offices and stores in their building sufficient to pay a liberal interest on the purchase price.

San Bernardino National Bank

The San Bernardino National Bank was established in 1888, with a capital of $200,000. The president at organization was J. G. Burt, the vice-president A. H. Hart, and the cashier E. H. Morse. At present the capital is $100,000, the surplus $13,000, undivided profits $22,000, and deposits $170,000. John W. Davis is president, S. E. A. Palmer, vice president, and W. S. Hooper, cashier. This bank does a general banking business and has exchange on all commercial centers.

Savings Bank of San Bernardino

The Savings Bank of San Bernardino was established in February 1890. It is under the same management as the Farmers’ Exchange Bank. Its president is Frank Hinckley, vice-president H. L. Drew, secretary and treasurer, S. F. Zombro. Its capital is a $100.000.
The banks report business to be steadily improving, and they consider the financial conditions as more promising and more satisfactory than during boom times.”

Source: An Illustrated History of Southern California: embracing the counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the peninsula of lower California.

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