Archived Story

First National dates to 1868

Published 11:24am Saturday, July 7, 2012

Austin’s First National Bank was founded in 1868 and in 1896 the business remodeled to the present design, recently restored, and seen at 300 N. Main St. — the corner of Main and Second Avenue NE, north of the old courthouse square. The bank eventually merged with Austin National Bank and the newly formed organization built a new building which opened in 1931. The story of that new bank, I’ll save for next week.

First, a few tidbits on the old days of banking in Austin:

“In 1886, an acute problem was faced by N. F. Banfield, the young bank cashier. Mr. Shaw [editor’s note: O. W. Shaw was then-bank president] had gone east on a visit. On Saturday night, June 10, it was learned that the Mower County Bank could not open its doors the following Monday. Banfield took the train to St. Paul, called upon the president of the First National Bank, explained the situation and was assured that $100,000 in currency would be on hand by Monday morning. When worried customers came into the bank on Monday morning, they saw the money piled high behind the bank’s grillwork. Instead of a run on the bank there was an increase in deposits.

In a time of tight money conditions in 1907 the bank issued script. It was accepted by the merchants and workers for several months. Every piece of script was paid through the New York bank.”

—From “Mill on the Willow: A History of Mower County, Minnesota.”

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