Moving day

School started again in August and September. For many families this signals the symbolic end of summer, and ushers in the return to routines, study schedules, and practice events. For many this is also moving day, as freshmen move away to college, or graduates move on to follow employment opportunities.

Moves are most often caused by career opportunities and changes in the family status. On average, over 10% of the population changes address each year, which implies the average American stays at one address for less than 10 years.

National Bank note, FNB WillowsWe understand the concept of movement among individuals, but few may think of movement where financial institutions are concerned. Not so long ago, most financial institutions did not have branches, and relocations were rare. One example of this moving oddity, or perhaps odyssey, is the First National Bank of Willows.

The First National Bank of Willows opened for business in 1910 with capital of $25,000, contributed by many residents of the Glenn County town. Its initial President was prominent local Judge Frank Moody and cashier was M. Pirkey. Initially at a location in the Crawford Hotel, it moved ten years later to a building on the corner of Tehama and Walnut S treets. First National served the agricultural community, and during the recession following World War I survived with a healthy balance sheet of Liberty Bonds.

During the years following World War II, First National Bank continued to serve the Willows area. Its President, Carroll Byrd, was a member of the Independent Bankers Association. Congress was considering changes to banking regulation in 1948— First National Bank of Willows purchased advertisement space in the Wall Street Journal and offered its perspective (PDF) on the issue.

The northern Sacramento Valley continued to grow, and First National Bank of Willows shortened its name in 1983 to First National Bank. A year later, its headquarters moved across the valley to Chico, a larger university town. Those were years of inflation and contraction; First National Bank faltered in late 1986, and was acquired as a subsidiary by First Interstate Bank. The National Bank charter was converted to a state charter, and the name changed to First Interstate Central Bank. The bank then moved its location to Calabasas, California, where First Interstate was building a large trust and securities operations center. Following First Interstate’s merger with Wells Fargo in 1996, the charter was retained as Wells Fargo Central Bank.

Willows ca. 1948This well-traveled charter celebrated its hundredth birthday in 2010. The Wells Fargo merger with Wachovia Bank streamlined corporate organization, and in 2011, National charter 9173 gave way to Wells Fargo’s charter and ceased to be an operating entity.

Looking back on this otherwise inauspicious bank, I can see parallels to an individual’s life cycle—birth, growth, move to a college town, personal challenge, movement to new employment, family formation, and then a quiet demise after a fulfilling century of life.

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Guided By History

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