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The First National Bank of McConnelsville in southeastern Ohio is the oldest national bank still operating under the same name and the same OCC charter—number 46, to be exact.
The McConnelsville bank is shown on the town square in 1880 (right). The county courthouse (left) arose in 1858 and still stands. (McConnelsville National Bank)
As of the first quarter of 2013, the bank had $141 million in assets and several branches in neighboring towns. But the town remains about the same size—under 2000 inhabitants—as in 1863. Bank accounts and shares of stock have been handed down through families from the time the bank was launched.
The bank opened its doors in the same year Congress created the national bank system and the North defeated the South in the battle of Gettysburg. Founded with capital of $75,000, the bank greeted customers at its original location—32 East Main Street, on the town square—for more than a century. A Greek Revival-style courthouse, standing across the street from the bank in 1863, is still there today.
Also on Main Street is the Evelyn True Button House, a red brick house built in 1836 and now the site of a historical society. It displays an artifact from Morgan's Raid—the northernmost uniformed Confederate attack on the north—that struck McConnelsville in July 1863, the same month the bank opened on the town square.
On April 19, 1864, a federal examiner visited the newly-created bank and wrote a report to Comptroller of the Currency Hugh McCulloch in the Washington headquarters: "Dear Sir, I have today examined The First National Bank of McConnelsville." He found assets of $224,744.67, a "stone and brick vault" and a "burglar-proof safe." "The directors are mostly in active business and are men of moderate means." The examiner said he instructed the bank on matters involving lending and record-keeping.
The entire report resided on two handwritten sheets of paper. A sheet of about eight-by-eight inches listed the bank's assets and liabilities; another of about eight by ten contained the comments. Two pages, one man, one day—that was the typical community bank exam in the 1860s.
The McConnelsville bank has outlived the first entry on the national bank charter list, the First National Bank of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia bank was founded by another Ohio native, financier Jay Cooke, and had six times the assets of its counterpart in McConnelsville. After the Civil War, the McConnelsville bank helped market railroad bonds issued by Cooke and his new business partner, Hugh McCulloch—the same McCulloch who, as the first Comptroller, oversaw the bank's supervision at its inception.
First National Bank of McConnelsville has grown exponentially since 1863. But its name and number remain the same.