HISTORY OF MANITOWOC COUNTY - Ralph Plumb, 1904I. Descriptive 1 II. The Indians 8 III. Early Settlement 16 IV. Growth and Foreign Immigration 32 V. Means of Communication 42 VI. Marine 55 VII. Railroads 85 VIII. Military 112 IX. Politics 133 X. Village and City Government 167 XI. Churches 183 XII. Societies and Organizations 227 XIII. Education 243 XIV. The Press 255 XV. The Professions 278 XVI. Banks and Banking 281 XVII Business and Industry 288 Errata and additions 316 Appendixes 293(A), 294(B), 300(C), 313(D) Index
CHAPTER XVI. BANKS AND BANKING.The history of the various banking institutions that have formed a part of the business life of the county is not altogether without its deplorable and unfortunate chapters. It was several years after the settlement of the village that Manitowoc's commercial needs justified the establishment of such an institution but as business grew a bank became an obvious necessity. That it was early considered is witnessed by the fact that a correspondent of the Evening Wisconsin of Milwaukee in speaking of a rumored foundation of a bank in 1850 condemned "the idea as a wild cat absurdity." The absurdity of the idea, however, soon wore off and within a few years there were several small depositaries, among the first being that of N. Wollmer, which grew up gradually out of a notary public and land business. The building was located at the corner of Quay and Eighth streets and the business was continued until the spring of 1858, when it failed. Another institution that met a similar fate at about the same time was that of William Bach. But the loss of these small and primitive offices made the need of other and better banks obvious, a need which was met by the organization of three in the latter part of 1858. The first was the Lake Shore Bank, which opened its doors on December 18th in the building
P 282 west of the present site of the Manitowoc National. H. C. Adams was president of the institution and G. W. Adams cashier. It started out in a successful manner, with resources estimated in 1859 at $61,618 and after two years it was removed to Two Rivers, but there after a year's existence it failed. At the time of its suspension the amount of its circulation was $22,680 and the value of its security about 66-1/2 percent. G. W. Adams, the cashier was arrested after the failure on a charge of obtaining money under false pretenses but the prosecution never came to a definite result. The second bank was that of T. C. Shove, who had been a clerk in the Wollmer Bank, and the third was the Bank of Manitowoc, which opened its doors December 22nd with C. C. Barnes as president and J. C. Barnes as cashier, with a capital of $100,000. In 1858 the Manitowoc County Bank was started at Two Rivers, which after some years of existence in that city was removed to Manitowoc in July 1861 where it continued in the place of business of the old Lake Shore Bank. C. Kuehn, formerly state treasurer, was the principal in this enterprise and at one time the bank had a circulation of over $90,000. After a few years, however, it too was obliged to suspend, being able to pay but 45 cents on the dollar. This business reverse led to the premature death of Mr. Kuehn, which occurred at his home, half way between Manitowoc and Two Rivers, on November 2, 1865. These early failures were not felt so heavily in the county since depositors were few, most of the pioneers of the day being struggling farmers. Barter was the general substitute for money and the more so since the currency was uncertain. The Bank of Manitowoc and the Shove Bank, however, weathered the stress of the war period, although the former was twice obliged to get legislative permission to reduce its capital. After the national banking act was passed, the Bank of Manitowoc was reorganized and in 1855 became the First National Bank of Manitowoc. For years these two banks sufficed to fill the financial needs of the whole county and it was not until January 1, 1884 that the Manitowoc Savings Bank was opened at the corner of South Eight and Jay
P 283 Streets, with a capital stock of $50,000, owned by John Schuette, Henry Schuette, J. Staehle and C. Estabrook. In the same year the Shove Bank was reorganized into the T. C. Shove Banking Company, including several new stockholders and with a capital of $45,000. Seven years passed without an addition in the number of banks, at the end of which time, in 1891, the Bank of Two Rivers was opened to satisfy the growing commercial needs of that city. The original capital was $10,000 and the proprietor was Edward Decker, whose banking interests in Northern Wisconsin were quite extensive. The next year witnessed the beginnings of a series of disasters which caused misery untold, the echo of which was years in dying away. At 10:45 p. m. of the 11th of April 1892 fire, caused by an explosion, broke out in the plant of the Manitowoc Manufacting(sic) Company and in a few hours the leading industry of the city, employing two hundred men, was no more. The loss was $175,000 and the insurance but $60,000. On the following morning the doors of the T. C. Shove Banking company were closed. It then transpired that the latter concern had been carrying the factory for large amounts, the factory being in reality under the same management as the bank. It was thought at first that the misfortune was not so great as it proved to be and it was hoped that Assignee Peining would be able to pay the depositors, who represented $400,000, at least 80 per cent. But matters soon showed up in a darker hue. The Manitowoc Manufacturing Company made an assignment to W. D. Richards and on April 13th the Wisconsin Central Mills, another company backed by the bank, assigned to J. Staehle for the benefit of creditors. It was then realized that much of the assets of the bank, which were originally reckoned at $500,000, was worthless paper. In the bank was county money to the amount of $51,282.83, deposited by Treasurer Gielow and a part of the city funds, amounting to $10,000. The former sum included $11,573 of the courthouse fund, the balance being a part of the general county funds. The bondsmen of the county treasurer were H. Truman, G. Cooper, Max Rahr, W. Rahr, R. Rahr, T. C. Shove and Mr. Gielow himself.
P 284 Many of the other depositors were farmers, since the bank always paid a high rate of interest, and the stringency of money that followed was very noticeable. As the factory of the Manitowoc Manufacturing Company was almost an essential institution to the industrial life of the city, efforts were early made to rebuild it. On April 12th a committee was appointed by the Advancement Association to meet the assignee, consisting of J. W. Barnes, H. Esch, Jr., T. T. Torrison, G. B. Burnett, H. C. Richards, J. Nagle, J. Schuette and D. Boehmer. A meeting was held three days late but no action taken, although workmen were rapidly leaving the city, leading Editor Nagle to remark in that week's edition of the Pilot: "Died, on Friday evening April 15th 1892 of inanity and lack of enterprise the city of Manitowoc." In fact the magnitude of the disaster had seemed to paralyze all efforts. Soon, however, a committee was appointed to raise subscriptions for a new plant and by May $75,000 had been subscribed. As April wore on, however, the true condition of the bank became evident. The liabilities were made public at $473,084 with assets amounting to $536,805.07, of which $374,207.84 was in paper, much being almost worthless, if not entirely so. Of the assets $224,206 was due from the Manitowoc Manufacturing Company and the condition of that concern was thus the determining factor in the size of the dividends. The inventory of the assignee revealed the fact that there were about $40,000 in liabilities besides the amount owing the bank, while the total assets amounted to only $193,000, including $60,000 insurance money, for which the assignees of both the bank and company receipted, there being much question as to its application. The liabilities of the Wisconsin Central Mills consisted of $75,000 in loans from the bank, $16,000 in mortgages and $3000 in accounts, the only assets being the mill property and some accounts. With these conditions revealed feeling grew high and on May 10th the creditors met at the Turner Hall, electing E. K. Rand president and H. L. Markham secretary. Upon legal advice a committee was appointed, consisting of Dr. R. S. O'Connell,
P 285 H. Stolze and H. Baeruth, who looked over the books and on May 20th a second meeting was called, two hundred depositors being present. Another committee was appointed, consisting of Emil Baensch, S. A. Wood, T. E. Torrison, H. Vits and C. Hanson, who hired an expert accountant to examine the books. In the meantime the assignee had made as advantageous settlements as he could with the other heavy debtors of the bank. The expert's report submitted in July revealed the fact that only $35,000 of the $50,000 capital had ever been paid in, that no stockholders' meeting had been held and that other irregularities were present. The arrests of the officers of the bank followed later in July and after many trials the president of the concern was found guilty, the supreme court refusing to reverse the decision. In the meantime dividends were paid in installments of 10, 15, and 4-1/2 percent, a total of 29-1/2 per cent. Much collateral litigation grew out of the failure. The county sued the bondsmen of the county treasurer for the loss it sustained, being represented by Attorneys Schmitz and Kirwan of Manitowoc and Gen. Winckler of Milwaukee, while Nash and Nash of Manitowoc and Gabriel Bouck of Oshkosh appeared for the defendants. The suit had been begun only after much consideration at the spring meeting in 1892 and was conducted on the part of the county by a committee consisting of Supervisors Gleeson, Niquette, Danforth, Rand and Burt. The county was greatly pressed for funds during this year on account of the failure. It won the suit in both the circuit and supreme courts but finally the bondsmen asked for a compromise. This was granted, with only two negative votes, by the county board and the county received $12,000 or about one third of the net loss. By April 1896 Assignee Richards of the Manitowoc Manufacturing Company announced a final settlement of the affairs of that concern, the dividend being about 5-1/2 percent, the insurance having been transferred finally to the bank. A final settlement of the Shove affairs was made in the summer of 1900 and Assignee Piening was discharged from duty. On December 26 1891 the First national Bank of Manito-
P 286 woc liquidated and the State Bank of Manitowoc was formed by the stockholders, a fine new brick structure being erected on the corner of North Eight and York streets. Increased business followed and everything bore the outward semblance of prosperity until the spring of 1893. As early as May 18th a run began and on the morning of June 6th the following notice was posted on the bank doors: "Owing to a run on the bank, which has continued for three weeks, its officers have concluded to make an assignment for the benefit of all the creditors. This has accordingly been done and the president of the bank, C. C. Barnes, has turned over his private means and property, including his homestead to be used for the same purpose. J. W. Barnes, Assignee." The day before the suspension $60,000 had been withdrawn from deposit and in the preceding week a total of $110,000. It developed that the bank had not the capital it had been supposed to have possessed and that it had lost heavily in lumber deals. The result of this failure was a run upon the other two banks in the county, which the Manitowoc Savings Bank easily averted by a display of its magnificent backing to which the Bank of Two Rivers temporarily succumbed, making an assignment to J. E. Hamilton. Business was greatly hampered by this condition of affairs and as summer progressed industry became well nigh dead. The assignee of the State Bank made a report on June 29th, which showed the assets to be $237,254, of which about $100,000 was in worthless paper, while the liabilities were $157,755.25. Ten days earlier the bank of Two Rivers had reopened for business and it was soon seen that its suspension had been more a measure of caution than of necessity. In July at the suit of certain depositors both the president and the cashier of the defunct institution were arrested but the death of both, occurring soon after, put an end to the legal proceedings. Assignee Barnes settled up the affairs of the bank with great dispatch and by May 1894, a final settlement was made, the creditors accepting 62 per cent. The banking necessities of the city, crippled by these two failures, opened the way to a new institution, which
Page 287 started business in the building formerly occupied by the State Bank on May 7 1894. It was known as the State Bank of Manitowoc and was incorporated with a capital of $50,000. On August 30th it was reorganized as the National Bank of Manitowoc with L. D. Moses as president and Clarence Hill as cashier and a capital increased to $100,000, the directors being all, with the exception of L. J. Nash, outside men. Cashier Hill was succeeded by G. J. Moses in 1899, who in turn gave way to F. T. Zentner a year later. Another bank was added March 6, 1901 by the opening of the German-American on the corner of Jay and Ninth Streets, a new brick and stone building 30 by 80 feet being erected for its occupancy. It was incorporated with a capital of $100,000; L. D. Moses was chosen president, and F. T. Zentner cashier. The opening of the twentieth century also witnessed the establishment of a new banking institution in the village of Kiel under the name of the State Bank of Kiel with C. Heins as president and R. Kiel as cashier. Two Rivers was chosen as the location of a second bank when on January 1, 1902 the Savings Bank with a capital of $25,000 opened its doors.