Albion Interactive History / Library / Albion’s Banks and Bankers (1985)

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / Research Documents

Frank Passic, Albion’s Banks and Bankers, 1985

1. Hannahs’ Exchange and Banking Office, p1
2. Albion Exchange Bank, p6
3. Albion State Bank, p9
4. Peabody Exchange and Deposit Bank, p16
5. Mayhew & Irwin Exchange Office, p20
6. National Exchange Bank of Albion, p29
7. First National Bank of Albion, p37
8. Albion National Bank, p44
9. Commercial & Savings Bank, p75
10. City Bank & Trust Company N.A., p80
11. The Bank of Albion/Chemical Bank – Albion, p80
12. Michigan Bank Mid-South, p80

Provides descriptions of all the banks in Albion from the 19th century to the 1980s. Biographical information is combined with newspaper articles and other secondary literature on Albion’s history. Connections between industry and banking can be inferred, as well as the loss of local control of capital.

Authors Preface
The subject of banking is one which touches everyone. It is a subject which reaches people, institutions, businesses, and includes local, state, and national government. In the 19th century, the condition of the local bank in any particular community was perhaps a reflection of the state of affairs of the community itself. Albion, Michigan, was no exception.

Albion was settled in the 1830s by immigrants from New York, as were numerous other communities in southern Michigan. They built at “the forks” of the Kalamazoo River; the availability of water power and other natural resources in the area provided an attractive atmosphere in which to locate. As the village population grew and more and more commercial enterprises came to the area, there naturally arose the need for a financial institution to handle the monetary affairs of the local residents.

During these early years, Albion’s “greatest benefactor” was Jesse Crowell (1797-1872), who was responsible for establishing a post office in Albion, and for donating land for Albion College. Crowell also handled the funds of some local citizens as a personal favor. As time progressed, however, local merchants found it inconvenient to travel to Homer or Marshall to make banking transactions. Albion was relatively late in establishing its own bank, compared with other are communities, such as Homer, Marshall, Jacksonburgh, and others. The problem was met in 1853 with the establishment of the Hannahs’ Exchange and Banking Office, by father and son, Marvin and George Hannahs. Other banks appeared, and soon were in competition with one another.

The history of Albion’s banks is perhaps representative of 19th century banking in Michigan, and can also be studied in that context. Banks established in the 1840s and 1850s were private banks, under private control. In the 1860s, the national banking era began, and many of these private banks obtained Federal charters, placing them under Federal rules and regulations. Others chose to remain private, but later obtained State charters, placing them under State rules and regulations. The progression of private to national, or private to State holds true in the history of Albion banks. The chapters in this book are arranged chronologically so that the progression of Albion’s banking history from one type to another can be easily followed.

The story of Albion’s banks and bankers is presented as part of Albion’s 1985 sesquicentennial. In the course of over five years of research it became obvious that very little was known about many of the bankers who had figured so prominently in the development of their establishments. Therefore, whenever information was available, special attention has been given to the personal histories of those who have played leading roles in Albion’s banking institutions.

Particular emphasis has also been given to the incredible Albion National Bank failure, an incident which became known as “Albion’s darkest hour.” Photocopies of original bank correspondence and documents were obtained from the U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C., covering the National Exchange Bank of Albion, the First National Bank of Albion and the Albion National Bank. These documents included organization papers and personal letters written by the bank officers, providing a wealth of new facts concerning these banks. Also included was a copy of the petition sent to Washington, D.C. in December 1912 by angry depositors of the wrecked Albion National Bank. The petition contains the names of many prominent Albion families; the names are listed here in alphabetical order.

Furthermore, this book also contains a listing of the various banknotes issued by the three Albion national banks, and can be used as a source when studying Albion numismatics. They are amply described in the text, although this author has yet to locate and obtain one for his Albion numismatic collection. Other numismatic related items are also covered in the text.

This book focuses on the Albion banking institutions only. It does not cover savings and loans, finance companies, or credit unions.

Special thanks go to M. John Fox, local genealogist, for providing this writer with important biographical data, and for help in locating several special items of interest which are included in this book. Special thanks also goes to Dr. John Hart, Professor Emeritus of English Literature at Albion College, for reading the manuscript.

Frank Passic