White Deer Land Museum

The First National Bank in Pampa Was Organized In 1906

The First National Bank in Pampa was organized on July 14, 1906, under state charter with a capital stock of $10,000. Then it was called the First State Bank of Pampa . J.R.P. Sewell was the motivator of the organization, and the original stockholders were nine men who purchased shares worth $100 each.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

M.K. Brown, the first depositor, rode horseback from the White Deer Land Company barns to give a check drawn on the Bank of Miami for $200.

The bank had a temporary office in a corner of the Johnson Mercantile Company building at 105 North Cuyler. In 1907 a two-story building was constructed at 100 North Cuyler where the bank has been located ever since, even though remodeling and expansion have changed the appearance of the building.

The original building was red brick with a catercorner entry door. Inside, a triangular teller’s cage faced the door, with the window also facing catercorner to Cuyler Street . A large spittoon was placed on the floor below the teller’s cage. Saturdays, when all the farmers came to town, were the big business days.

Sewell was also instrumental in the reorganization of the bank under a national charter in 1907. In its first year of business, the assets of the bank had increased to $100,000, the amount required for a national bank.

The nine men who signed the application for a charter for the First National Bank were J.N. Duncan, W.W. Harrah, L.N. Henry, H.J. Lippold, T.H. Lane, T.D. Hobart, T.A. Horn, president, J.R.P. Sewell, vice-president and B.E. Finley, cashier.

As the bank was set up in the early days, the cashier was actually the bank manager, and B.E. Finley ran the bank from its founding in 1906 until his death in 1934. In 1920 Finley followed Horn, Sewell, R.H. Collier and Hobart as president. Succeeding presidents have been DeLea Vicars in 1934, A.A. Schuneman in 1944, Floyd Watson in 1964 and Don Babcock in 1989.

On June 9, 1934, the bank was named First National Bank in Pampa, organized under Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation certificate No. 14207. The newly organized bank assumed all the assets and liabilities of the old bank.

At one time during the early years, the Ladies Library Club established a library of 700 books on the second floor of the bank building. Beryl Wynne Vicars, the second librarian, was paid 50 cents to work two afternoons a week.

The first curbing outside the building was completed in April 1918; however the bricklaying by Indian Jim did not follow until 1927.

In 1925 Doctors Archie Cole and Walter Purviance opened offices upstairs. The I.O.O.F. Lodge had oyster suppers on the second floor.

For a time The Crony, Pampa ‘s first newspaper, was located at the back of the lower floor on the Foster Avenue side. The Western Union station and a book and magazine store filled part of the block.

In 1926 the bank building was extended to the alley. In 1940 the interior lobby was enlarged and marble fixtures and floor were installed. In 1951 the front portion of the original building was torn down and rebuilt into the present structure. The remaining part of the building was remodeled after completion of the front.

In 1961 the bank purchased a 25′ lot adjacent north to the building and expanded the lobby. Heated sidewalks were added in 1963 to aid customers during snowy weather. In 1982 the bank purchased the McCarley Jewelry store building which was remodeled to house the bookkeeping and proof departments. The bank then had a 100′ frontage on Cuyler Street . After Gordon and Gordon vacated the upstairs office space to the back of the bank in 1987, an elevator was installed and the executive offices were moved to that area.

The first drive-in bank, constructed in 1958 at the corner of Ballard and Foster, was enlarged in 1960. In 1976 the bank opened a ten-lane motor bank at Cuyler and Francis Streets.

Two ATMs (automated teller machines) were installed in 1983. One facility is a drive-up located at 113 West Foster and the new walk-up building is located at 2207 Perryton Parkway . Modernized equipment has greatly changed banking procedures since 1906 when accounts and transactions had to be written by hand.

The current board of directors consists of Floyd Watson, Wesley Green, F.M. “Buster” Carter, Benny Kirksey and Don Lane . As of June 30, 1993, the bank has assets over $190,619,000.

One of the most exciting days in the history of the bank was March 31, 1927, when the bank was robbed of $32,000 while more than 20 people were herded into the vault. At the same time, men employed to carry bricks to Indian Jim were calmly eating their lunches under the locust trees in front of the White Deer Land Building .

Insurance covered the loss of money. Only one of the five robbers was brought back to Pampa , but he was not tried.

Another red letter day in the history of the bank was July 14, 1990, when a Texas Historical Marker was dedicated in the lobby of the bank building.

Benjamin Ebenezer Finley, born in Ohio , came to the Texas Panhandle in 1904. He was working at a bank in Amarillo in 1906 when J.R.P. Sewell offered him a position as cashier in the First State Bank being organized in Pampa . Finley served as cashier and chief operating officer until he was elected president of the bank in 1920. He held this position until his death on September 28, 1934. While watching the Quanah-Pampa football game from the west grandstand, he died instantly of a heart attack.

His interests were for the advancement and betterment of the city. He helped bring two railways and several highways to Pampa . He was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian church and was especially active in the local church.

Bessie Edith Warren, born in Kansas , moved with her family to Tarrant County . At the age of 16, she graduated from Denton Normal School (now North Texas State University ). In 1908 she came to Pampa as one of the first teachers in the Pampa school. Shortly after Bessie came to Pampa , she met B.E. Finley, and they were married on August 17, 1910.

Bessie Finley spent much of her time promoting education and all things literary. She supported the school system in every way possible and was a leader throughout the founding and beginning struggles of the Pampa Public Library.

B.E. and Bessie Finley had three children. A son, Warren Hobart Finley (1916-1942) lost his life serving in the Fifth Ferry Command of the U.S. Air Force. Frances Louise Finley was born in 1914 , and Flora Deen Finley was born in 1918.

Frances Louise Finley and M.L. Ferguson were married on February 14, 1936, in the first Presbyterian church building at 300 West Browning. On April 5, 1941, Flora Deen Finley and A.C. Martin (now deceased) were the first couple to be married in the new Presbyterian church building at 525 North Gray.

M.L. and Frances Ferguson of San Antonio , Texas , and Flora Deen Martin of Oklahoma City , Oklahoma , attended the dedication of the Texas Historical Marker for the First National Bank in Pampa on July, 14, 1990.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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