Union Savings Bank

By dhowell - Posted on 02 January 2008

A. J. Waters and Walter Mack were the two men who spent long hours canvassing prospective subscribers by horse and buggy in their successful efforts to raise money for the foundation of The Union Savings Bank. The bank opened on June 30, 1894, with a paid-in capital of $12,500.

The prospects of starting any new business didn't appear to be very bright. There had been a nationwide panic in 1893 and banks had closed doors, railroads were going into receivership, and business houses were crashing. Coxey's army of unemployed marched on Washington. Money was scarce, although Manchester didn't seem to suffer as some parts of the country.

The first director's meeting was held on the third floor of Arbieter Hall on June 30, 1894. They were: B. G. English, President; George Heimerdinger, 1st Vice President; Dr. C. F. Kapp, 2nd Vice President; Edwin E. Root, Cashier; Arthur J. Waters, John Wuerthner, John M. Horning, Walter C. Mack, Fred Breitenwischer, and Arnold H. Kuhl.

The directors voted to purchase the corner lot on which the bank now stands, for the price of $1,800. The Union Hall was taken down and a new three-story brick building was constructed and open by early winter. Edwin E. Root, cashier, was the only employee.

These were the days of the plank sidewalks, cobblestone gutters, and hitching posts along Main Street. And the bank paid its share for having the dirt streets sprinkled to lay the dust. The fee was 25¢ a week.

This was the beginning of the electric lights on Main Street, for on February 10, 1892, the village council gave J. H. Kingsley the franchise for supplying the village with electric power and street lamps of the kerosene variety were on their way out.

The three-story Southern Washtenaw Mill was doing big business in State Seal flour, across the street from the bank.

Ed Root arrived at 7:30 a.m. at the bank to build the fire in the stove behind the counter, sweep the floor and serve the customers. Banking hours were nine to four and many a night he had to work after supper to keep the books up to date. Elwin English joined the staff a few years later as a part-time employee.

Eben F. Horning peddled his bike eight miles each way to help out at the bank.

Benjamin G. Horning died in 1905 and he was succeeded by John M. Horning. The same year Bennett C. Root graduated from high school and joined the bank.

In 1907 the bank had difficulty in finding enough cash to do business during its second national panic. Farmers were shipping livestock and coming to the bank to cash checks. Correspondent banks refused to part with large sums of cash. Instead of asking for large sums the Union Savings Bank asked for smaller amounts and kept enough money on hand to meet the demand—and the bank remained sound.

Merchants also helped during this panic by using railroad pay checks for currency. The checks were in five and ten dollar amounts. Merchants kept them and used them as money.

In 1920, John M. Horning, the bank's second president, died, and Dr. C. F. Kapp succeeded him. At his death in 1924, Edwin E. Root became president. Bennett Root became cashier in 1925. In 1927, Edward R. Kirk joined the staff and in 1929, LeRoy A. Marx went behind the counter.

More than one bank failed during the depression of 1929-33 but the Union Savings Bank came through with flying colors, stronger than before.

The Union Bank building was a temporary makeshift school facility while the modern new school building was under construction in 1937. Classes were also held in the Village Hall and the Sloat Building.

Also in 1937, the bank and community lost a friend. Arthur J. Waters, who laid the foundation for the bank and influenced its growth, died. But he had taught well and the bank continued to grow.

After 49 years of service to the bank, Edwin E. Root retired as president and became president-emeritus. He had helped the bank grow from assets of $33,000 to nearly $2,000,000. But retirement didn't mean that he didn't keep in daily contact with the institution. He passed on in 1943, at the age of 89, just a year after he retired.

J. C. Hendley was elected to the Board of Directors in January, 1939, and was named to the vice presidency in January, 1949; in 1950, he became president of the bank, a post he holds at the present time.

On October 1, 1950, Dan J. Boutell became cashier. He is executive vice president and cashier at this time.

On May 29, 1956, the Union Savings Bank and the Peoples Bank merged.

An extensive remodeling program was carried on at the "Bank on the Corner" during 1958 and '59 and the bank carried on its business across the street in the building which had housed the Peoples Bank.

The remodeled facility includes space formerly used by Walsh's Restaurant and Sutton Insurance Agency.

The bank has enjoyed continual growth since it was founded in 1894 with resources in 1967 totaling $9,000,000.