Looking back at Austin’s big names

Published 6:39 pm Saturday, August 20, 2011

At the suggestion of my brilliant husband, I’m beginning a series on the ‘big names’ of Austin. If you have been wondering about the name behind a school, street or park, please let me know and I’ll investigate.

This week, some history of the Banfield family, from the 1911 History of Mower County:

“Nathan F. Banfield, vice-president and cashier of the First National Bank, of Austin, was born in West Roxbury, Mass., November 15, 1860. He is one of a family of six children. His parents, Everett C. and Anne S. (Fiske) Banfield, both descended from early New England families.

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He received his early education in the schools of his native place, in Adelphia Academy, Brooklyn, N. Y… Later he attended Phillips Academy, at Andover, Mass., and was a member of the class of 1879. He came to Austin to enter the employ of the First National Bank in March, 1879, at the age of eighteen years.

To him promotions came with the passing years: In 1882 he became assistant cashier, a director in January, 1884, in 1885 cashier and in 1903 was elected vice-president. He served for some years as treasurer of the city of Austin and as a member of the board of education.

He was married July 5, 1882, to Nellie Sterling, daughter of James M. Sterling, one of the early settlers of Austin. To them were born seven children: Nathan F. Jr., Helen S., Annie F., Everett C., Richard S., Gertrude S. and Arthur F.

Nathan F. Jr., received his education at the Austin High School and the University of Minnesota. He entered the employ of the First National Bank of Austin in August, 1904, and became a director of that bank in January, 1909.

Helen S. was graduated from Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N. Y., in the class of 1908. Annie F. died in January, 1891, at the age of three years. Everett C. is at Amherst College, Amherst, Mass., a member of the class of 1912. The three younger children are in the Austin schools, Richard graduating in the class of 1911.”

Nathan F. Banfield, Sr. died in 1927. More on the Banfields next week.

Thursday: Mower County Historical Society’s Lunchbox History with Laura Helle presenting “How Cy Thomson Embezzled $1.19 Million from George A. Hormel & Co.” The presentation is free and open the public, a service of the Mower County Historical Society to the community. No registration is required.

Guests should park by the Ag Building, where the presentation will take place and are encouraged to bring their own lunch if they wish. A new book about the Cy Thomson scandal has been written by LeRoy author Eileen Evans. Copies of “Cy Thomson—The Generous Embezzler” will be available for $19.95.

Coming soon

Sept. 1: New fiscal year, membership campaign begins.

Sept. 20: Social Concerns: Impact of Tourism on Mower County by Cheryl Corey of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau at 10 a.m.