Merchants and Planters bank, later known as First State Bank, opened their doors to the Bradley County community.
After only six years of service, the bank experienced their first armed robbery in 1896. A masked man entered the bank and ordered the cashier to turn over the money. The cashier refused, reached for his gun and the robber fired, wounding the cashier. Before the cashier could return a shot, another director rose from his seat and the robber shot him as well, mortally wounding him. The cashier then opened fire and the robber fled.
Another director rose to his feet after playing dead and mounted his horse in pursuit of the bandit. A posse was formed to search several states for the bandit. Finally, the man was tried for the holdup but proved his innocence and no one ever paid for the crime.
The bank stood solid in the Money Panic of 1907 that threatened the business world of the United States by a currency shortage. The bank went into an agreement with a national bank in St. Louis, which furnished clearing-house certificates to use in the place of currency. The shortage later led to the establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1913.
In 1929 Merchants and Planters Bank faced another hardship when 30,000 banks in the United States had to take a three-day "bank holiday" due to the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Merchants and Planters bank was one of only 15,000 institutions in the United States that was able to open for service following the three-day "holiday".
In 1937 Merchants and Planters Bank reached an agreement with the Bradley County Bank of Hermitage Arkansas to rent the bank building and upon approval of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to establish a teller window in Hermitage.
The Hermitage Branch was established and the bank rented the back room as a library for the community. Also the branch underwent remodeling as well as the bank in Warren.
In 1961, at the annual stockholders meeting, the stockholders voted to convert from a state charter institution to a national bank charter thus renaming the bank First National Bank of Warren & Hermitage.
In 1970, the bank turned a building beside the main office in Warren into an enclosed parking garage for the convenience of the bank's customers. The bank also purchased the First Savings and Loan building south of the bank. With this purchase, the bank now owned the entire city block from south of West Cedar Street to north of West Cypress.
First National Bank of Warren continued to flourish with the development of a community development board in 1974. The bank also received approval from the Comptroller of the Currency to establish a branch on the comer of Martin and Pine Street and the Hermitage Branch was offered full service banking power.
In 1978, the stockholders decided that it would be in the bank's best interest to convert back to a state charter since it would free up reserve money that could be invested in the community in the form of loans for the customers. On Thursday, December 14, 1978, First National Bank became known as First State Bank of Warren and Hermitage.
In 1993, the directors of First State Bank applied for and received approval to establish a full service branch bank in Hampton, Arkansas. The new branch was completed, dedicated and opened for business in 1994. Throughout our rich history First State Bank has provided the people in our area with the best possible banking services available. At First State Bank we believe that “The Difference is Leadership.”
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