October 8, 2007

Citizens State Bank celebrates 100 years

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

A rich banking history runs through the City of Waverly, dating back to the early 1800s, from one bank folding after the stock market crash of 1929 to the long-running family ownership of Citizens State Bank.

There were actually two banks in the city in the early 1900s, according to Citizens State Bank CEO and chairman Catherine “Birdie” Jackson.

The State Bank of Waverly was in business from the late 1800s to 1930. That bank folded after the stock market crash of 1929, according to Jackson.

Citizens State Bank started its business in 1907 in the basement of the old WJ Walsh store, made it through the stock market crash, and today is thriving 100 years after its establishment.

The original founding fathers of Citizens State bank were the late Mr. Walsh and the late Bill Bowland, according to Jackson.

After reviewing the minutes from the early days of the bank, Jackson said the bank president didn’t even draw a salary for the first few years.

At some point, the bank moved out of the basement of the Walsh building (currently The Wave building), and into the next building to the west, which has since been torn down.

Citizens State Bank purchased the State Bank in 1930 from the Commissioner of Commerce. The Commissioner of Commerce had taken over the State Bank’s assets after it folded.

Citizens State Bank then moved into the old State Bank’s building that is currently the Going in Style III beauty shop, and remained at that location for 40 years, according to Jackson.

Jackson can be considered an expert on the history of the bank. She grew up in and around the bank. Her father, Dan Graham and his brother, Mark Graham, bought the bank in 1951 from David Toussaint.

Dan was a naval officer in World War II and upon returning from the service, got involved in the auction business. At that time, in the late 1940s, real estate auctions of complete farms were common and it was hard for people in the area to find financing. Because the need existed, the Graham brothers decided to start a financing company, and wanted to let Citizens State Bank know that they would be its competition, according to Jackson.

“Mr. Toussaint was looking to get out – his son had died a year earlier, which was said to have been one of his reasons – and my dad and uncle were in the place at the right time,” Jackson explained.

Toussaint offered to sell the bank to the Grahams, which they accepted. Eventually, Dan and Mark split off their banking partnership, with Dan taking over the bank and Mark sticking with the auction sales.

The current Citizens State Bank building in Waverly was built in 1970 on the site of the old creamery.

“I’ve been working here since I was 12. I started with filing checks and clerking auction sales,” Jackson said.

“Literally, for decades, there were three people employed here. It wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that people started prospering and we saw growth in our economy,” Jackson said.

When Jackson graduated from college, she worked in downtown Minneapolis for a time before her father asked her to come work at the bank in the 1970s.

“There were only a handful of women who did the bookkeeping back then. My dad was the only loan officer in the bank so he could hardly even take a sick day,” Jackson said.

Graham retired in the mid-1980s, which is when Jackson and her brother Dan bought the bank from their father. It was around that time that Jackson’s husband Kim started working at the bank, as well.

Five years ago, Kim and Birdie bought out Dan’s interest in the bank. Although Kim has retired, Birdie is only retired from day-to-day operations, and maintains her chairman and CEO roles.

“We’ve grown from a small shop to a $50 million bank employed with 20 wonderfully talented people,” Jackson said.

In honor of the bank’s 100th anniversary, a party is planned for Sunday, Oct. 14 at the new St. Mary’s Fellowship Hall from noon to 3 p.m.

All are welcome to attend this free, old-fashioned hog roast with all the fixings. The event will be the first big group to gather at the new fellowship hall.

Gifts and prize drawings will be part of the event, including a one-week stay at Elbow Lake Lodge.

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