Businesses had been increasing in number in Goldsboro and the Fishing Creek Valley over the last 50 or 60 years. The century had just turned over to 1900 and things were looking up, until May of 1907 when the country entered a recession. Later that year in October, things got worse.
The Panic of 1907 saw the New York Stock Exchange fall almost 50% in value from the previous year. Since the end of the Civil War, the United States had experienced a number of panics, like the panics of 1873, 1884, 1890 and 1893, and now 1907. The frequency of crises renewed the debate to have a national central banking system to help the vulnerable US economy.
Congress would later pass the Aldrich–Vreeland Act, which established the National Monetary Commission to investigate the panic of 1907, and to propose legislation to regulate banking. This was the very early stages which would ultimately lead to the Federal Reserve System.
It was during this year of 1907, with this national debate about a central banking system, when businessmen of Goldsboro and farmers in the Fishing Creek Valley expressed a desire to have a bank.
York and New Cumberland had the nearest banks, so having one in Goldsboro would be really convenient for everyone in the Fishing Creek Valley. The newly established board of directors of the bank had now picked a President: Charles E. Bair, the proprietor of one of the two cigar factories in town.
It looks like it was going to be a pretty secure bank, with two safes, one that is burglar proof and the other being fire proof. I guess the fire proof one could still be burgled.
The big opening day came in the spring of 1908, and it really was a big deal. The entire town came out for the opening festivities, which included the Goldsboro Band giving a three hour concert, and lots of speeches from prominent residents.
The first day of business brought in over $20,000 in deposits (that’s around $650,000 in 2023 after adjusting for inflation). I wonder how long the lines were that day? The first temporary location wasn’t exactly a large building. It was located on South York Street, across the street from the tin shop and the Dugan & Funk Cigar Factory.
Materials for the new bank building had begun to be ordered, and red sandstone was being quarried from the local farm of G.W. Bamberger.
I guess it took a little longer than than they anticipated to complete the building, but eventually the structure was finished.
Just under two years after the grand opening of the bank, the new bank building opened in March of 1910. It’s not mentioned if there was as big of a celebration as there was for the original opening two years prior, but I’m sure there was at least some celebration to commemorate this new structure.
The new building location was now on Broadway, next to the barber shop attached to the National Hotel on the square.
It seems odd to me, to want to take a photo in front of the bank, but it was a small town, and if you had a camera then I guess you would just take candid photos anywhere. But maybe people also just liked the structure, especially if you were a Bamberger and the stone came from one of the farms in your family.
According to the Annual Report of the Comptroller of the Currency (written 1931) by 1910, there were over 7,000 currently active national banks in the whole country. All National Banks at this time had the same currency template, featuring the name of the town. On the 10 dollar bill it had the recently assassinated President William McKinley.
The Goldsboro bank was charter number 9072, which was printed on each bill. And the signatures on the bottom were real, featuring the bank president Charles Bair and cashier William Mansberger. That must have taken a long time to sign all those bills.
Personal checks can still be found on occasion from this bank. I guess people would file these away in their paper records and forget about them.
Just like the stone it was made out of, the bank seemed to be a symbol of stability in the town. I’m sure it hoped to inspire confidence for the people of the Fishing Creek Valley to leave and invest their money in the institution.
The bank continued to do business for about 20 years, through out the booming years of the roaring 20s, but then in 1929, the nation was once again rocked by a financial crisis.
The Stock Market Crash of 1929 led to the Great Depression which lasted throughout the 1930s. Pretty much everyone was affected, banks failed, there was high unemployment and a lot of poverty. The Goldsboro Bank limped along in the first few years of the depression and made it to its 25th anniversary.
But early in 1933, just after Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated for the first time, he tried to get some things going in order to jump start the economy and begin to dig the nation out from the depression. Two days after his inauguration, he ordered a bank holiday in order to stabilize the banking system.
The Goldsboro Bank closed, like every other national bank. And just like many other banks, it would never re-open for business. In the book The Life & Times of Goldsboro it gives a little more info about what happened next:
“The bank examiners came and had a meeting with the directors. The directors had to go to Lancaster to meet and come to a decision as to what to do. One possible solution was for each director to sign a note for $4,000. This would keep the bank above board for awhile longer in hopes the economy would straighten itself out. It was a risk, however, and was voted down. The customers were paid 91¢ for each dollar they had in the bank. The stockholders lost the most money. Finally, in 1933, an official from Hanover came and closed the bank. The vault was removed and the building was sold for about $700.”
During this time, I’m sure everyone was trying to get as much of their money out of the bank as they could. As the bank continued to give dividend payments back, people would be anxious to get as much as they could during these lean years.
Eventually, after what accounts and loans that were left could be squared, the bank property was transferred to Samuel Wolf.
The building was eventually remodeled and became a residence.
Today, the building still stands and continues to be a residence. Many old timers remember, or are at least aware, that it was a bank. Newer residents to Goldsboro just may think that it’s an odd looking house and not realize that it was once a proud building that adorned the town.