Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Fall of the Commercial Banking and Trust Company

In late February and early March of 1933, the country stood at the edge of a precipice of a national crisis. President Herbert Hoover was in his last weeks as President, and Franklin D. Roosevelt was poised to take the oath of office. Across the nation, confidence in the banking system was falling rapidly, and there was concern that panicked citizens would rush to the bank to withdraw all of their holdings and that banks wouldn’t be able to meet the demand for cash. In late February, the governor of Michigan declared a bank holiday in order to avoid a panic, and caught the attention of the entire nation. On March 5th, 1933, one day after taking the oath of office, President Franklin Roosevelt declared a four day national bank holiday, in order to stabilize the country’s banks. All financial transactions were halted, and businesses and individuals had to work with cash on hand in the interim.

In order to reopen after the bank holiday, every bank in the country had to prove it had sufficient funds in reserve to cover all of the funds on deposit. On March 15th, ten days after the bank holiday was declared, two Sandusky banks, Third National Exchange Bank and the Citizens Banking Company reopened their doors for business. The Commercial Banking and Trust Company waited for permission to resume business as usual.
Days passed without any word on the fate of the bank until the March 25, 1933 Star Journal announced that the Commercial Banking and Trust Company was coming back bigger and better. Plans were to reorganize the bank and open branches throughout Erie County, with capital stock of $300,000. The new bank was to be known as the United Bank of Erie County.

On May 30, 1933, the disappointing news that, after weeks of effort, it was impossible to organize the Commercial Banking and Trust due to the amount of money needed to provide working capital. Thus it became more important than ever to go ahead with the planned United Bank of Erie County. Plans to liquidate the Commercial Banking and Trust were outlined in the local newspaper. On June 15th, plans for a new bank were dashed when the Glass-Steagall bank legislation was passed. The Glass bill required newly organized banks to have more than $625,000 in capital and surplus, more than double the figure that had been planned for the Erie County bank. On Saturday, July 21, the bank was taken over by the state superintendent of banks. Depositors were requested to file proofs of claim before November 30th.

Eventually, the matter of the bank liquidation ended up in court, and dragged on for years. In March, 1941, the building was finally sold. In November, 1941, it was announced that depositors would receive a final dividend of 21.65 percent. In the intervening years, the bank paid out sixty percent of the claims of depositors, totaling $1,771,377.39. It also charged off $1,336,106.30 to loss.

Depositors of the bank faced real losses. Claims under $100 were paid a flat ten dollars, a substantial loss in 1941. The money was tied up for years as the liquidation process played out. The keys to the building were handed over by the liquidator on January 2, 1942, and the final report was filed February 26, 1942.

In the meantime the Western Securities Bank moved into the building that the Commercial Banking and Trust Company had constructed in the early 1920s. The Western Security Bank was located at the corner of Columbus and East Washington Row until it relocated in 1974.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Local History Multimedia Presentations on the Library's Website

You may not have noticed another feature the Sandusky Library offers for presenting local history. On the library's website, we have a link for the Follett House Museum. . . . In that link, you will find access to multimedia presentations on topics in local history, including a video tour of the Follett House Museum and audio podcasts, including a report on the first all-woman jury in Erie County and the story of the New Year's Pretzel. You can select a podcast by visiting the website, or you can subscribe to a feed to be kept informed when new programs are posted.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mrs. Eunice Brown Dewitt on the Home Front in the Great War

Eunice Ann Brown was born in Danbury Township in 1832 to Loderick Brown and Margaret Kelly Brown. Loderick Brown was the Keeper of the Marblehead Lighthouse from 1849 to 1853. Mrs. Brown was the granddaughter of William Kelly, who built the Marblehead Lighthouse in 1822. Eunice married James Dewitt in 1876, but was widowed before 1900. She was a tireless worker during World War I, knitting one hundred and eleven pairs of socks for the soldiers overseas. Her goal was “to beat the Kaiser with my knitting needles.”

The Honor Roll, Erie County Edition provides photographs and biographies of the area soldiers who served in World War One, as well information about those who aided the war effort on the home front.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Temperance Activities in Early Sandusky

According to an early Western Reserve Historical Society Tract (in 1888), the first temperance society in Huron County was organized by F. D. Parish in 1831. (Sandusky was located in Huron County until the creation of Erie County in 1838.)

Hewson L. Peeke’s History of Erie County contains an entire chapter devoted to temperance activities in Erie County. He states that in the 1840s the “Sons of Temperance” and the “Washingtonian Total Abstinence Society” were both organizations that were opposed to the use or manufacturing of intoxicating beverages.

A joint parade was celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day in 1844 by the local members of the “Sons of the Emerald Isle” and the “Washingtonian Total Abstinence Society,” followed by a dinner at the Mansion House. On June 10, 1847, the Sons of Temperance had a parade in Sandusky, with members coming from Sandusky, Castalia, Mansfield, Mount Vernon, Tiffin, and Republic. An estimated 300 members marched in the parade.

On the night of August 7, 1849, a meeting was held at the Congregational Church for the purpose of organizing a Temperance League. There were nineteen women who were active members, and five women who were supporting members. Later their group became a chapter of the W.C.T.U., the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. (The opening page of their book of minutes from 1879 is shown above.) The women gathered regularly to pray, sing, and make plans on how to spread the message of temperance throughout all sections of the community.

Mrs. M.F. Cowdery (above) was a founding member of the Temperance League in Sandusky. (This portrait shows her, circa 1895, when she was a founding member of the organization that eventually became the Library Association of Sandusky.)

Ohioans were very involved in the temperance movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There is a museum devoted to the Anti-Saloon League (whose origin is traced to Oberlin in 1893) at the Westerville Public Library.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

New Collection of Twentieth-Century Newspapers on Microfilm

Thanks to a generous contribution from the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, subsidized by the generousity of the Sidney Frohman Foundation, the Sandusky Library has received a microfilm collection of the Sandusky Daily News, a short-lived newspaper founded in 1934.There are ten reels of the newspaper available for viewing in the Archives Research Center, covering from August 16, 1934 to December 31, 1937. Additional reels may become available in the future. Although this newspaper is not indexed, it offers a unique source of information, presenting another perspective on life in Sandusky during the Great Depression.

To read this newspaper, come and visit the reference department!