History of Historian Phil Pezzaglia
For most of us the Bank of Rio Vista, is and has always been a fixed institution in Rio Vista. I don't believe that there is any person in this room that is over the age of 100, therefore nobody present can remember a time before the Bank of Rio Vista existed.
What started out as a small bank with less than five employees in 1904 has grown, over the past one hundred years, to a bank with dozens of employees, and four business locations; Walnut Grove, Isleton, and two in Rio Vista.
The Bank of Rio Vista is unique for many reasons. But first and foremost one has to mention that it is the people that make up the bank. We will refer to this as "The Human Element".
Whether you're talking to a life long Rio Vista resident or a new resident to the community, when one is asked about their impression of the Bank of Rio Vista, the answers are always the same.
They will always tell you how impressed they are with the people at the bank. The friendly tellers, etc. are always very knowledgeable and willing to help in any way possible to meet the customers banking needs.
There are literally hundreds of stories that can be told, many by people in this room, about how the Bank of Rio Vista has always been there and helped them out with either their business or private banking needs. It's the people associated with the bank, be it the tellers, officers, directors, etc. that are the reason why individuals, families and businesses continue to use the Bank of Rio Vista as their leading bank.
That's exactly what I mean when I refer to the "Human Element" that is and has always been present at the Bank of Rio Vista. At the Bank of Rio Vista you are always a person with a name, you are not just an account number, you are a friend, and that is the way that you are treated.
There are so many interesting stories regarding the bank, that we could spend hours reliving tales such as the check that was written on a piece of driftwood or a check that was written on a napkin, or maybe stories regarding some of the early local pioneers of the area and how some of them, could not read or write, and therefore they would just sign with their mark.
Through the years there have been a handful of other banking institutions in Rio Vista. In fact, counting the Bank of Rio Vista, there have been nine financial institutions, which have had local branches:
Bank of Rio Vista (Est. 1904),
The First National Bank of Rio Vista (1915-1921),
The Delta Bank (1922-1936),
Bank of America (1936-199_),
San Joaquin First Federal Savings (1970's & 1980's),
Washington Savings and Loan (1980'8 & 1990's),
Bank of Alex Brown, (1980's),
First Interstate (1980's),
& the Bank of Stockton.
But the one financial institution that has remained constant throughout the years has been the Bank of Rio Vista.
Throughout the past 100 years the Bank of Rio Vista has had, including Tim Kubli, only six presidents, three of which have had the last name of McCormack.
Of those 100 years, seventy-six of them have had a member of the McCormack family as president. Wallace McCormack having held the position the longest, for fifty-two years.
The bank presidents were as follows: Lars Peter Larsen (1904-1920); Alden Anderson (1920-1925); Daniel McCormack (1925-1934); Thomas McCormack 0934-1949); Wallace McCormack (1949-2001); Tim Kubli (2001-Present).
What I would like to focus on this evening is that of the early years of the bank; who organized it, when it was chartered, and just how it grew during the first seventeen years.
You may wonder just how banking needs were fulfilled prior to the Bank of Rio Vista's existence.
Starting in the mid 1870's and continuing on through the turn of the century Rio Vista did have local, official Wells, Fargo & Co. Agents.
The first of these such agents were the Westgate Brothers, Edward & George. These two gentlemen were owners of a general merchandise store located on the corner of Front and Main Streets, in Rio Vista.
After, about twenty years of working as agents they decided that it was time to pass it on to someone else in town.
A gentleman by the name of E.M Chase, who also owned a general merchandise store, on the opposing corner of Main and Front Streets, was all too happy to take over as the local Wells Fargo & Co. agent.
These agents' money transactions consisted of gold, silver, gold notes, currency, checks and drafts. These ways of banking was provided by the agents taking money and then sending it, by steamship, down the Sacramento River to San Francisco, were the money was deposited into the bank.
However the money was not physically in Rio Vista, and therefore a slight inconvenience of a few days were involved when having the need to make some of the transactions.
It was in the early 1890's that J. Stern & Co., which would shortly become the largest general merchandise store in Rio Vista, opened it doors, on the corner of Main and Second Streets.
Mr. Stern had a residence and a business location in both Rio Vista and San Francisco. He was a fine businessman, whom understood that the survival of both his business and his customers depended upon one another.
He therefore thought of a way to help the farmers, thus in turn giving him a working relationship with the locals, and the opportunity to expand his own
The following description of just how J. Stern operated, was given by Wallace McCormack, in an article written approximately a decade ago.
He (Stern) would finance the local farms by carrying their accounts for the year, advancing money for seed and equipment that he did not handle” “At the end of the year, farmers who had surplus money would deposit it with Stern & Co., which would place the money in its San Francisco account and hold to the money until the farmers need it to buy more land or for some other purpose." “As the farmers and ranchers became more affluent and prosperous, the need for a bank became apparent.
Like the old saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention". Well Rio Vista had a necessity, and that was the need for a local bank, hence the birth of the Bank of Rio Vista was about to take place.
On April 9, 1904, a Saturday night to be exact, a number of local citizens, gathered together in the meeting room of the Rio Club. The purpose of this meeting was to address and discusses the need for the organization of a local bank.
At this point in time the bank was to be known as the "Rio Vista Citizens Bank", however this name was quickly shortened to The Bank of Rio Vista. It was during this historic meeting, that it was unanimously agreed upon to form a Stock Company, with a capital stock of $50,000.00 divided into 1000 shares at $50 each.
It was during this same meeting that a Board of Directors was elected. The seven men elected to fill those positions were:
R.D. Robbins, of Suisun; Peter Cook, a local landowner; Ben Fleischer, a partner in J. Stern & Co.; William Burrows Presley, a local landowner; George H. Butler, a general merchandise store owner, Peter Hamilton, a local landowner and Capt. Lars Peter Larsen, retired ships captain and partner in Sullivan & Larsen, a local lumber company.
It was the wish, of the newly formed board of directors, that the majority of the stock, should be owned by the local citizens of Rio Vista.
The directors set out and canvassed the town hoping to find those with money to invest.
It must be noted that at this point in time Rio Vista's in town population was 682, and that the entire township was listed at 1500.
Within a short period of time seventy-two stockholders purchased up the $50,000 worth of available capital stock needed for the banking enterprise, to get under way.
It must be pointed out that in 1904 Teddy Roosevelt was the President of the United States, J.E. Sullivan was Rio Vista's Mayor, a pound of cheese cost 10 cents, a sewing machine cost around $11.
A ticket for two, which included dinner, at a local social ball cost anywhere from $1.50 to $2, and the salary for the gentleman that ran the Rio Vista Water Works was around $18.75 a week.
This was a time before the Model T Ford, before the federal income tax, before women had a right to vote and before Rio Vista even had a bridge.
Once we put it into this perspective, it is obvious that the majority of people in Rio Vista that did have money to invest were either land and property owners, or farmers and ranchers.
Now that the dream was coming together the Board of Directors next step was to elect bank officers.
The officers elected for the new bank were: Lars Peter Larsen- President; R.D. Robbins- Vice-president; Horace L. Perry- Cashier; George H. Lamont-Attorney. Interesting enough there very little mention of Mr. Lamont after this point in time.
The bank filed the appropriate papers and was established as a state-chartered institution with the official document dated April 12, 1904.
Now that the Bank of Rio Vista had a Board of Directors, a state charter, seventy-two stockholders, $50,000 in capital and an elected group of Bank officers, they now required a place of business.
The bank purchased a small piece of property on the south side of Main Street, between Second and Third Streets, and local contractor Weston W. Campbell, was hired to construct the building.
Foundation work began, during the first week of August 1904, for a new structure that would house the Bank of Rio Vista.
With the entire town eagerly awaiting the construction of the new building, the builders put their shoulders to the grindstone and completed the building in less than two months.
The front of the structure was a beautiful terra cotta brick, while the sides and back were of red brick, the interior had high ceilings and beautiful hardwood floors.
By the time the building was completed, the bank had invested $7000, in the property, building construction, vault and office fixtures, making this new structure the most modern structure on Main Street.
A great need arose for the bank to open, even thought their building was not yet completed.
The Bank of Rio Vista officially opened for business in early October 1904 with vice president R.D. Robbins on hand to wait on each of the new customers.
For the first few weeks the bank operated out of the small brick office building of the firm of Sullivan & Larsen, located on Front Street.
This was of course convenient as newly elected bank president Lars P. Larsen was half owner of that firm.
(The safe that Sullivan & Larsen used now resides in the front office of Rio Vista Real Estate.)
A few weeks later, during that same month of October, the Bank of Rio Vista opened its doors, in its new building, to the public.
For each and every year, following its opening, the banks' business continued to grow steadily, as did the community of Rio Vista.
As the town of Rio Vista continued to grow, so did the hometown bank. The Bank of Rio Vista quickly became a full service institution meeting and providing for all of the needs of Rio Vistans, as well as citizens of Collinsville, Birds Landing, Isleton, and the surrounding towns and districts.
By 1908 the bank was providing numerous clients with checking accounts, safe deposit boxes, the availability of Bank Money Orders, savings department. And 3% interest on term deposits.
Early on in 1915, when the bank was eleven years old, the directors contemplated remodeling their building, in order to better fulfill the needs of the rapidly growing bank. This idea was however, put on hold.
Early on this same year, rumors were in the air, with regards to another group of local gentlemen organizing a local bank.
Instead of remodeling, this year marked the first time that the bank put together a more progress advertising campaign, in the local River News newspaper. These specialized ads were offered with a different slogans and drawings each week.
The only major events in 1916 was the addition, in March, of a "Wireless Instrument" which only had a receiver, and that the bank used for sole purpose of knowing the correct time.
In April 1920, when the Bank was sixteen years old, it was felt, as it had been in 1915, that the bank needed a larger building.
They purchased a piece of property on the corner of Main and Second Streets, from the Dunn Estate, which at that point in time housed the saloon of Emil Renner.
However this idea was put to one side when Bank president Lars P. Larsen, now sixty-five year old, sold his interests to Alden Anderson, whom was then elected president of the bank.
Through these early years few changes occurred within the banks Board of Directors. Directors didn't change often, or all at once, but eventually Mr. Robbins, Mr. Cook, Mr. Fleischer, and Mr. Pressley all stepped down, leaving only Lars Larsen, Peter Hamilton and George H. Butler as original 1904, directors.
The most notable change in directors occurred when the two McCormack brothers, Daniel and Thomas accepted positions on the Board of Directors.
It should be noted that at this point in time Mr. Alden Anderson was quite familiar as well as well known in the field of banking. He had bought L.P. Larsen's stock in the Bank of Rio Vista in 1920, and succeeded Mr. Larsen as bank president that same year. But what exactly were Mr. Anderson's qualifications.
Besides being President of the Bank of Rio Vista, he was President of the Capital National Bank of Sacramento, a $10,000,000 banking institution; President of the Redding, National bank, of Redding; Placer County Bank of Newcastle; Placerville National Bank of Placerville; Vice-President of First Savings Bank of Shasta County; Director in Roseville Banking Company and Bank of Courtland.
By all means his resume was showcased that he was more than qualified to preside of the Bank of Rio Vista.
And it would be during his years as president that the Bank of Rio who move to its present location, on the corner of Main and Front Streets.
As I mentioned earlier, in 1915 the town of Rio Vista got its second bank, The First National Bank of Rio Vista.
J.T. Brown, F.J. Trigueiro, B.L Sharp, W.L Brown Dr. AJ. McKinnon organized this bank. And built a beautiful two story building on the corner of Main and Front Streets.
There seemed to be enough business that both banks had more than enough customers.
In fact competition is good, in any business, it makes everyone try a little harder.
But in 1921 it was decided that the Bank of Rio Vista would purchase its competition and merge the two financial institutions.
Webster defines Amalgamation as "to unite or join together", and that is exactly what took place between The First National Bank of Rio Vista, established 1915, and the Bank of Rio Vista, now seventeen years old, in 1921.
During the first week of September 1921, preparations were being made by two members of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Rio Vista to purchase stock in The First National Bank of Rio Vista, with the intentions of merging the two local banking facilities.
Alden Anderson, President and a Director of the Bank of Rio Vista along with Daniel McCormack, a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Rio Vista purchased a combined total of 285 shares of stock from J.T. Brown, Frank• Triqueiro and his daughter Mary Triqueiro, giving them controlling stock in The First National Bank of Rio Vista.
A meeting, on November 7, 1921, of the First National Bank of Rio Vista's stockholders, which now included Mr. Anderson and Mr. McCormack, formally adopted a resolution whereby the assets of the bank would be sold to the Bank of Rio Vista.
At this point in time the Bank of Rio Vista assumed all outstanding liabilities of the First National Bank of Rio Vista, an assigned Dan McCormack was appointed "liquidating Officer" for The First National Bank of Rio Vista.
The officers and Board of Directors of the Bank of Rio Vista remained the same after the merger, as the next annual election of bank officers would take place in January 1922. There was however some speculation as to whether or not any of the individuals who held positions as Board members of The First National Bank of Rio Vista might find positions on the Board at the January meeting.
Unfortunately none of the gentlemen found positions the board of the Bank of Rio Vista.
The official list for the Bank of Rio Vista officers and Board of Directors, after the merger, in November 1921 was as follows:
The officers for the bank were: Alden Anderson-President; Peter Hamilton Vice President; Bruce Greig-Cashier; F.E. Mitchell-Assistant Cashier. The Board of Directors were: Peter Hamilton, George Butler, Daniel McCormack, Thomas McCormack, Henry J. Dirr, Alden Anderson, Arthur M. Larsen.
As a result of the merger and the enlargement of the Bank of Rio Vista it was decided that the Bank of Rio Vista would move from their location in the two hundred block of Main Street (presently the location of All Animals Veterinary) and move into the six year old structure that The First National Bank had constructed and occupied, on the corner of Main and Front Streets.
The result of this merger, between the two banks, gave the Bank of Rio Vista a capacity double to that which it had, namely a Capital of $150,000 and a Surplus of $50,000.
Alden Anderson gave the following statement to the River News, with regards to the merger. The following statement was originally published in the November 19, 1921 edition of the River News.
The state bank, i.e., the Bank of Rio Vista, will be retained, first, because its capital is larger and second because in a rural community the banking laws are so constructed that a state bank can better care for the needs of the community. A bank should be operated for the benefit and service of tile town and the district wherein it is located. The national ba11k laws only permit of the taking of real estate security to a limited extent and at times when a loan has been made on real estate there is 110 best way, where, with full security a farmer can be assisted to move his crop of fruit, potatoes, beans, etc. This can be done to better advantage under the state banking laws than under the national laws in the small and rural sections.
The Bank of Rio Vista is a home bank for its home people and the whole board of directors is pledged to do everything it possibly can to assist and up build its town and the surrounding country. With a larger volume of business the bank will be in an even stronger position to care for the needs of its patrons and the business generally of this vicinity.
It was quite obvious that that is what the Bank of Rio Vista was and still is all about. It's about the people and the communities that it serves, each one helping each other so that both bank and communities can grow.
From this point on The First National Bank of Rio Vista no longer existed and once again the Bank of Rio Vista was the only bank in town.
In closing, it was noted in January of 1915 that:
The service given by the bank and its employees was entirely satisfactory in the fact that customers who had moved to other districts continued their relations with the bank, due to the fact that they were always conscious of the human element of business.
And this still holds true today. There are still many former residents that have moved away but continue to do their banking with the Bank of Rio Vista.
All in all, it's the people; yes that "human element" which I keep mentioning, which makes the bank the strong institution that it is today.
And I am sure that twenty-five years from now, and then fifty years from now, people will once again be gathering together to celebrate the future anniversaries of the Bank of Rio Vista.
I thank you.