The Farmers Bank of Liberty, IL

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A Little Bit of History

The Farmers Bank of Liberty is a home-owned and operated independent community bank with locations in Liberty and Barry, Illinois.

On June 23, 1903, The Farmers State Bank of Liberty was granted a charter to operate as a state bank. Local businessmen from Camp Point and Quincy were the organizers, and the first headquarters for the bank was located on the first floor of the Masonic Lodge on Main Street, which still stands today. In 1904, the bank was taken private by the same officials, and the word "state" was dropped from the bank's name, thereafter to be called simply The Farmers Bank of Liberty. The bank was rechartered as a state bank in 1920, and is rumored to have stayed open during the infamous "bank holiday" due to the time lag for communications in that era.

In 1913, the directors of the bank had decided that new quarters were going to be needed, so a two-story brick building was erected which housed the bank and the local newspaper on the first floor, and offered a community auditorium on the second floor, which came to be known as "The Opera House". That building was occupied on January 1, 1914.

In 1916, a branch of The Farmers Bank of Liberty was established in Beverly, Illinois, but was not successful. The bank's colorful history also includes two bank robberies and the shooting death of one of it's early cashiers.

The current main bank building was erected in 1972, and unfortunately, the historic brick bank building/Opera House was sold to a local realtor in the early 1980's and quickly resold.

In April of 1995, ground was broken for the Barry Community Banking Center, and it opened for business on August 2nd, bringing modern banking conveniences to Barry for the first time.

It is obvious in the bank's name, that the purpose for founding The Farmers Bank of Liberty was to meet the needs of the area's agricultural community. In the early 1900's, the village existed as a means for the farmers to exchange their wares, without having to make the day-long trip to Quincy markets.

Later on, with improved roads and transportation systems, the markets were concentrated in larger communities, and the fall of the small-town marketplaces began. The Village of Liberty, however, remained solid.

From its humble beginnings in 1903 with $25,000.00 in capital stock and meager footings, to its current size of $22.5 million (1st Quarter of 1998) in assets, the bank has experienced its most rapid growth in the last few years. The secret for success? Simply put, the bank is being operated as it was originally intended, with active local ownership and civic-minded officers and staff. The payoff has been growth in the form of stable, core deposits and sound loans to local borrowers.

See how we have GROWN!!!

($ ASSETS)

1905

65,067.18

1919

367,351.71

1950

859,807.51

1960

1,349,650.10

1970

2,932,800.00

1980

6,939,300.00

1985

8,866,000.00

1990

11,732,000.00

1995

16,677,000.00

1998 (March)

22,566,000.00

Some history of the bank and the Liberty area were presented in 1993 in a booklet published for the bank's 95th anniversary. Some excerpts from that booklet follow:

90 Years of Working Together: The Farmers Bank of Liberty and Its Community

Through prosperity and adversity; through multiple wars, recessions and THE depression; through prosperous farm yields and prices and the "ag crisis" of the 1980's, The Farmers Bank of Liberty has stood and still stands as a monument of responsible helpfulness to the citizens of Liberty and the surrounding territory. The fact that the bank has remained viable and strong from its creation right up to this day is testimony to the character and determination of the local people who patronize it.

The history of the bank and its surrounding community are inseparable, as bank assets and employees have played an integral part in the development of the area. From the installation of electricity and phone services, and the attraction of a state highway, to the creation of a four-year high school, the directors, officers and staff of The Farmers Bank of Liberty have labored for the long-term growth and well-being of the community.

Locally-derived deposits, an investment in the community by the people of the community, have been kept here at home to build successful farming enterprises, service, retail and manufacturing businesses, as well as providing affordable loans for housing, automobiles and other consumer durable goods. No other investment can yield as much for the local economy.

A 1928 brochure commemorating the 25th anniversary of the bank's opening recounted the following passage: "How many of the present generation can remember the time when Liberty had no banking institution? Back in 1903 it was when a man had to travel many weary miles to reach a bank. The roads were dirt and the going slow. There was deep mud in the spring and fall and the roads became practically impassible in winter. There was always the possibility of mishap as the traveler treked accross the country bearing sums of money. Nowadays it is almost impossible to imagine what it could mean to be deprived of the conveniences of a check account! To be forced to keep your savings in a sugar bowl for months at a time! And no facilities in the country for borrowing money! The modern man would scarcely know how to conduct a business without the cooperation of a friendly progressive bank."

Well, nowadays, geographic convenience is not the only factor people use when they decide to trust The Farmers Bank of Liberty with their funds, but rather it is one of many including competitive rates and superior service!

The more things change, the more they stay the same, for even though the world has seen vast changes since 1903, when you walk into The Farmers Bank of Liberty, you are still a friend and a neighbor, never just a number. The basics of banking - providing a fair return on deposited dollars, providing safety for all deposits, making sound loans to local borrowers - has never changed. We could go on all day about the impressive list of products and services we offer, but all you have to remember is this: When it comes to money, come to The Farmers Bank of Liberty!

How did it all begin? Who first decided that Liberty was a town on the go, and a town that would need its own bank to help finance its future growth? Where did it first operate? To commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of The Farmers Bank of Liberty, we hope to answer these and other questions by providing a look at activities documented over the years in the official minutes of the board of directors' meetings, and a look at the people involved in the operations of the bank over the years.