Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Land Run Bankers Operated within Carnival Atmosphere

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Land Run Bankers Operated within Carnival Atmosphere

Article excerpt

carnival atmosphere pervading the Land Run of April 22, 1889, starting their operations in tents, in the backs of wagons, making deals across flimsy folding tables.

These men were not bankers, per se, but merchants in money, who offered settlers security for their deposits.

There were respectable businessmen-bankers intent upon building, and becoming part of, a city on the windswept red earth.

And, there were unscrupulous opportunists, faro bankers, who lent money only for stakes in a card game, or who promised security in a cast-iron safe, then left town with its contents within a year.

Of the banks that sprung up that first day in the Oklahoma City area, only one is known by name: The Oklahoma Bank, forerunner of the First National Bank and Trust Co., which was replaced in 1986 by the First Interstate Bank of Oklahoma NA.

The Oklahoma Bank was formed by T.M. Richardson, J.P. Boyle and George T. Reynolds. Richardson, a vice president of the M.T. Jones Lumber Co. of Texas, came to Oklahoma to establish lumber yards along the Santa Fe Railroad line. He set up the Oklahoma Bank in a tent on Main St., just east of Broadway.

Bunky, the pen name for the author of "The First Eight Months of Oklahoma City," said 52 days after the land run, Oklahoma City had four banks with $2 million in capital and deposits of $120,000. One of those four, Merchants Bank, lasted only until 1890, then disappeared.

Citizens Bank was formed five days after the land run on the southeast corner of Main and Broadway by James Geary, Fox Winnie and L.A. Gilbert. By May 30, the bank and its $50,000 in capital were installed in its building.

The Bank of Oklahoma City, also capitalized with $50,000, was established June 15, 1889, at the corner of Grand Ave. and Robinson St. by Robert Kincaid, Eugene Wallace and James H. Wheeler.

A national bank panic in 1893 caused runs on several Oklahoma banks, including Citizens, which had changed its name to Oklahoma National Bank, and the Bank of Oklahoma City, causing the two banks to close their doors and liquidate on April 23, 1893.

Richardson's bank changed its name to the First National Bank of Oklahoma City on Aug. 20, 1890, when a national charter was acquired.

The bank survived a run on deposits on July 19, 1893, by using money sacks full of iron washers to alleviate depositors' concerns. Customers waiting to withdraw their accounts from the bank, in which reserves were almost depleted by the all-day run, were told by Richardson that he would pay all in full. …

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