Hancock County Banking

In the early settlement of Hancock County there were no banks nor, indeed, was there any demand for banks.  The pioneers who came here from the east and south, as a rule, were men of limited means and their means had been converted to coin before they set out for this wild and uncultivated land, and this coin was tucked away in a buckskin belt or otherwise secured about the person, and was economically used in the purchase of land or of oxen, horses and farming implements….Bank books and checks were unknown in Hancock County in the (Eighteen) thirties and forties and even at later dates.  Some of the merchants, and possibly others, conducted a small business in holding and caring for small deposits of money belonging to others.  A system of barter and exchange existed betwen the merchants and farmers as to certain farm products, particularly as to butter and eggs, and perhaps as to furs and hides. 
 
In the course of time, as traffic on the Mississippi River was developed and famers began marketing grain and live stock sthrough that instrumentality, money came more and more into circulation and the system of barter and exchange was gradually disused.  Prior to the Civil War, so-called “State Banks” of the country issued much paper money, the value of which depended upon the financial integrity of the bank. (This) paper currency was a very undesireable medium of exchange for the reason that a man in Hancock County holding such bank-notes issued by a bank in a distant state had no assurance one day that the bank would be in existence or its paper worth anything the next. 
— Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Hanck County, Charles J. Scofield, ed.  1921 
The first banks were private, conducted by individuals under their own names.  Increasingly, they were formally incorporated and administered by a board of directors.  By 1921, banks were found in every town in Hancock County. 

 

1919 check drawn on the First National Bank of Hamilton Illinois

The First National Bank, for example, started out in 1887 as another department in a general drug store owned by Marshall B. Lane.  Lane’s general store also included a jewelry department, a newstand, an insurance agency, and — of course — a soda fountain.  Bank accounts were kept in the same ledger with store charge accounts, but by the end of June, 1887 a separate ledger was opened.  In the winter of 1888, a fire-proof safe with a time lock was installed.  By 1890, bank business had grown so large that a separate building was established at the southwest corner of Ninth and Broadway.  Bank capital at this time was listed as $25,000.  The bank was also renamed the State Bank of Hamilton, although checks continued to be written against the old bank name as illustrated above.

In 1894, the bank opened a savings department which is believed to be the first formal savings bank department in Hancock County.  By the end of 1919, bank assets totaled $100,000.

Theodore Bear’s 100th Birthday Party – Come Celebrate With Us!

The Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum board of directors invites all of you to a party to celebrate the 100th birthday of Theodore Bear. The party will be held at the museum, located at 306 Walnut Street, Carthage, on Sunday, October 5, from 1PM to 4PM.  “Beary good” refreshments will be served and everyone, especially other Teddy Bears, is invited.

Theodore Bear was created in Carthage, October 8, 1908, by Mary Salisbury Dean. Mary Dean’s uncle was Joseph Smith, prophet and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Mary Dean’s mother was Catherine Smith Salisbury. When the LDS left this area in 1846 the Salisbury family remained in Hancock County and later helped establish the Reorganized LDS Church, now known as the Community of Christ.

Mary Dean gave the Teddy Bear to her daughter, Dorothy Dean, for Christmas 1908, and the bear remained in her possession until it was given to Marcia Lawson in 1983. Theodore’s birth date, October 8, 1908, was discovered by Mrs. Lawson when she did some repairs on his back and found that he was stuffed with a newspaper bearing that date.

Theodore became the star of the “Show and Tell Doll and Teddy Bear Museum” in Carthage, which was owned and operated by Marcia and her husband Lyle Lawson until Marcia’s health necessitated the closure of the popular tourist attraction. In 1988, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, Theodore was made and honorary citizen of Carthage by proclamation of the Carthage Mayor, James Nightingale.

After Marcia’s retirement, Theodore Bear also retired. Since 1995 Theodore has resided at the Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum in Carthage, where, from his old rocking chair (previously owned by Marcia’s mother, Mildred Thompson Whilhite, when she was a child) he has entertained thousands of visitors each year, surrounded by many of his bear friends and familiar doll houses and toys which also were formerly in the Doll and Bear Museum.

During the party the new “Bridge addition” to the museum, which has been under construction since early August, will be open for inspection. The new exhibit areas will be labeled, but the exhibits will not be completed until this winter, in time for the 2009 tourism season.