The Spring Valley City Bank started operations in 1902 as a private bank under the ownership of two wealthy landowners named Norris and Kendall, who lived in the Princeton-Malden area.
A .R. Greenwood, an attorney then living in Spring Valley, became the Manager and
Charles W. Knapp was his assistant.
In 1905 The Spring Valley National Bank, popularly known as the "Devlin Bank" ceased, and on November 1, 1905 the present Spring Valley City Bank was organized as a corporation under the banking laws of the State of Illinois with capital of $50,000.00.
W. B. Hummer of LaSalle, father of Wayne Hummer a broker in Chicago, but also a resident of LaSalle, became the principal organizer, and he was assisted by Charles W. Knapp.
The original stockholders who subscribed to the Bank Capital of $50,000 were as follows:
W. B. Hummer, Charles W. Knapp, J.C. Sitterly, E. M. Baysoar, V.J. Reinke, Charles Fehr, I.L. Steinberg, L.S. Blachly, J.F. Kimber, Leo Gluck, George L. Hoffman, Fred Guenther, Samuel Bernstein, Barney Ernat, James O'Connor, George A. Wheeler, Mabel L. Norton, C.N. Hollerich, Edward McCabe, I.J. Jagodzinski and William MacDonald.
At the first stockholders meeting, the following were elected Directors of the Bank:
W. B. Hummer, Charles W. Knapp,J. C. Sitterly, E. M. Baysoar, Charles Fehr, L. S. Blachly, George L. Hoffman, George A. Wheeler, I.J. Jagodzinski.
The Directors then appointed as officers: W. B. Hummer, President, I.J. Jagodzinski, Vice President, Charles W. Knapp, Cashier.
The first employees other than officers were Anna H. Knapp, Bookkeeper, Ben Fowler, Clerk and Joe Saunders, Janitor.
W. B. Hummer died on May 16, 1908 and J. C. Sitterly was appointed President. Wayne Hummer was also elected Director to fill the vacancy caused by his father's death. Later Charles W. Knapp, Roy W. Brown, Peter Hollerich, Roderick J. Luther, Philip T. Mc Ginnis, Gordon J. Virgo, David W. Kromphardt and current president Matthew E. Merboth each succeeded to the Presidency.
History has proven the Luther lineage to have one of the strongest impacts on Spring Valley City Bank. This all started with L. H. (Hick) Luther. L. H. Luther worked his way up the ranks to eventually become Chairman of the Board on January 13, 1959. His son Roderick Luther later became President and Chairman of the Board and his granddaughter Rorie Luther Schweickert is now the only female member of the Board of Directors.
A few of our senior citizens may remember back on April 15, 1932 the Spring Valley City Bank was raided by professional gunman. The bank was robbed by four armed bandits. In the bank at the time were; Peter Hollerich, the cashier; L. H. Luther, assistant cashier; Bank employees Lloyd Pierson, Mrs. Andrew Savio and Miss Madelon Mahoney; and two customers, Miss Mary Abraham and an unidentified Spring Valley man. The four men joined the getaway driver waiting outside in a Buick and drove east down St. Paul St. Several police agencies joined the Spring Valley Police in the early phases of the manhunt. A statewide search ensued, with a $1,000 reward being offered for the capture and prosecution of the criminals. Within three weeks two of the criminals, William Hertig and Pat Thomas, who were involved in another robbery and kidnapping attempt in Taylorville, were apprehended. Luther positively identified the two, but they never returned to Bureau County, as they were prosecuted in southern Illinois. A third robber, William Hoefield, alias "Bill Sullivan", was also apprehended due to his involvement in another crime and was identified by Thomas a fellow suspect.
Philip T. McGinnis a former President and Chairman of the Board remembered a banking day in April of 1976 when Steinberg's Furniture store, which was contiguous to the bank's building, burned to the ground, with flames billowing halfway into St. Paul Street. The Bank's building at this time was located on the corner of St. Paul and Greenwood Streets. That evening bank personnel scrubbed the floors and all of the furnishings which were covered in soot. The Bank opened for business as usual on the next morning. At the time of the fire, the new Bank which is now located at 315 N. Cornelia St. Spring Valley was already under construction.
Gordon J. Virgo was also a past President and Chairman of the Board. His first day of employment by the bank was the day after the fire. He credits the board of directors for having great insight on picking a valuable location (which formerly housed Walker's Gas Station) that he believes has contributed to the bank's growth in attracting a strong customer base not only from Spring Valley but areas to the East as well. The bank's current and only location sits on the corner of Cornelia Street and Route 6.
After the new building was constructed, a very memorable day for many Spring Valley residents was the day the cash vault and safety deposit boxes were transported via tow motor down St. Paul St. and up Cornelia St. to the bank's new location. They were escorted by Spring Valley Police and Illinois State Troopers.
As the Bank's deposits grew rapidly, the Bank quickly outgrew the original building. In the late 1980's the board of directors passed a motion to expand the building doubling its square footage. Employees began to utilize the addition in 1989. Now over 20 years later this building sits beautifully landscaped, as its doors swing open for business to serve thousands of residents in the Illinois Valley and beyond. The Bank has retired two employees with over 50 years of service. The current staff has over 15 employees with 20 years of service, eight of those with over 30 years and three of those with over 40 years. Many believe the bank's employee longevity has also contributed to its success, as the Bank strives to build lasting relationships with all of its customers.
Phil felt we would be remiss without mentioning several dedicated long time employees of the bank including Cecilia McCook who is now deceased. She was employed by the bank for over 50 years and served as bank secretary under five of the bank presidents. Patricia Pirch, Asst. Vice President was also employed by the bank for over 50 years starting in high school until retiring a few years ago. Pat served in several capacities with her final assignment being in charge of opening new accounts. Fellow officers most, vivid memory of Pat include her sharing tears with her customers over the loss of their loved one. This Bank is, and always has been known for providing excellent customer service, and this reputation was built from the compassion it shares with customers.
One of the earliest reports of bank operations revealed as of November 10, 1905:
Deposits were $70,044.77 and Loans were $51,088.24. Today Spring Valley City Bank remains an independent community bank with assets in excess of $194 million. Spring Valley City Bank takes great pride in the safe and sound reputation it has achieved. It continues to grow in these tough economic times. A measure of its strength is evidenced by its superior rating from Bauer Financial for 88 consecutive quarters. This information graphically reveals the growth and security of the institution along with the economic well-being of Spring Valley and its surrounding area.