Early banking in Whitewater had its ups and downs
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The Commercial Bank in Whitewater is located at 200 S. Fremont. This new round building opened in 1975.
Originally, this bank was the Whitewater Commercial and Savings Bank and was on the southwest corner of Main and First streets. That building of vitrified brick and Bedford stone opened Sept. 19, 1914. It now serves as a bank branch.
The Whitewater Commercial and Savings Bank opened July 2, 1913, with D.O. Kinsman as president, D.F. Zuill as vice-president, Merton Fish as cashier and Spencer Fish as assistant cashier.
David F. Zuill was born in Johnstown in Rock County on May 4, 1861. His parents came from Scotland. Zuill received his education at a local public school and attended Milton College for one year. He followed in his father’s way of life, farming, until 1896. That year he started a creamery. Later, in 1900, he went into the grain elevator business. In 1907, he entered the business of buying and selling livestock. He served as mayor of Whitewater.
Early banking in Whitewater had its ups and downs. This was typical of communities throughout the state in the early days.
Alexander Graham and Augustus H. Scoville began in the banking and brokerage business in 1855. In August 1857, they organized the Farmers and Mechanics Bank. They had capital of $100,000 and closed their books in either 1858 or 1859. Both of these men were part of a group that signed a charter applying to have Whitewater become a village. This was done at a meeting at the Metropolitan Hall on March 6, 1858.
According to Butterfield’s History of Walworth County, the Farmers and Mechanics Bank issued its notes with the denominations printed in red ink. The $1 bill had a center vignette depicting a corn husking bee. The right hand of the bill showed a line of railroad cars and the left side had an image of Liberty and of an American Indian. The $2 bill again had a farming scene and a sailor and a girl, perhaps his wife.
Other early banks included the Bank of Whitewater, which was in operation beginning sometime between 1856 to 1861 by Sheldon C. Hall and Eli C. Hall.
They closed in 1865 due to losses in pork trading. Butterfield indicates that these men had been leaders in the community for 20 years.
Sheldon Hall came to the area in the fall of 1843 and was an associate supervisor for the township in 1845 and 1851.
According to Beckwith’s History of Walworth County, Hall was in the pork business for about 15 years. He packed pork and rendered lard. He apparently did this with a number of changing partners. His house was on Whitewater Street near the railroad station.