CELEBRATING 110 YEARS - IN 2016
The year was fair and the grass was green when fourteen ambitious men gathered together time and time again to see if they could scrap up enough money to raise $25,000 to form the capital for a bank in Wellington. The year of the beginning was 1906. The County of Collingsworth was growing in one of its most accelerating periods. In 1900 the population of the county was 1233, and by 1910 the population was 5224.
With the vision of forming a bank to serve this farming and ranching area, these fourteen men applied for a charter as a state bank with a capital stock of $25,000. The original list of shareholders read as follows: R. L. Ellison, H. C. Wells, E. A. Wells, C. A. Gray, L. H. Stall, J. W. Wells, A. W. Blain, L. W. Gribble, J. B. Burtner, K. M. Godfrey, John Williamson, Chas. Drake, S. A. Street and Ed R. Wallace.
These original stockholders represented many callings. All were landowners. Among them were farmers, ranchers, general merchants, grocers, hardware men, a druggist, a real estate agent, a doctor, a preacher, a ginner, and their number also included a former teacher and a former sheriff.
The first change of importance in the bank’s history came on December 18, 1909, when the stockholders voted to increase the capital stock from $25,000 to $50,000. L. W. Gribble was president. Directors were H. C. Wells, E. A. Wells, Alice Henard, L. W. Gribble, and W. Y. Seale.
At this time, M. W. Deavenport, grocer, ginner and financier, bought controlling interest in the bank with the purchase of 150 of the 250 shares of stock. With his purchase of stock, the number of stockholders had declined to nine and the names of D. D. McDowell, C. C. Terry, J. S. Richards, and Carrie Henard appear as stockholders for the first time.
The Wellington State Bank was first located in a stone building on the west side of the square. It was moved to the northeast corner of the square where a new two-story hotel building had been completed with the bank quarters being located in the same building. This continued to be the home of the bank for 47 years until it was merged with the First National Bank of Wellington. Major Deavenport was president of the bank when it moved to the new quarters. Other officers listed on the old cornerstone, which is still preserved in the drive-in part of the building, were L. W. Gribble, vice president; E. A. Wells, vice president; and H. C. Wells, cashier. Major Deavenport died in 1911 and his stock went to his daughter Mrs. J. M. Strong.
Following the death of H. C. Wells in 1918, A. W. Blain was elected president and the name of P. E. Starr appeared as a director.
A.W. Blain was still the president when A. Y. Bell became the executive officer in the early twenties. Directors listed at this time were A. W. Blain, F. H. Royal, D. D. McDowell, L. E. Gribble, C. C. Terry, and E. W. Blain. These continued to be the directors for two decades with occasional changes such as Pink Sullivan, John Henard and D’Arcy (Dee) McDowell.
The administrative history of the Wellington State Bank may be divided roughly into nine administrative periods. The first of these was that of H. C. Wells, who was the executive officer of the bank from the time of its founding in 1906 until his death in 1918.
The second was that of A. Y. Bell, who was active vice president through the prosperous twenties and kept the bank strong and functioning at full service during the depression and the dust bowl days of the thirties.
The third administrative cycle was that of L. A. Manzer, under the presidency of D. D. McDowell. During World War II, the bank not only financed the farmers and stockmen of the area, but also the institution underwrote huge caravans of combines and trucks that traveled from central Texas in June into the Dakotas and Canada in the late summer. The large loans on land and cattle were subject to the approval of D. D. McDowell. Records reflect that L. A. Manzer also served the bank as president and resigned that position in November 1951.
When Mr. Manzer left the bank, A. Y. Bell was elected president and he was serving when C. T. Hubbard came to Wellington in August of 1954 as executive vice president. Mr. Bell resigned in September 1954 and E. W. Blain was elected president.
The fourth administrative period was that of C. T. Hubbard. Two major advancements were made under his leadership. The first of these was then Wellington State Bank bought the building equipment and assets of the First National Bank. The two oldest banks in the county were merged on May 16, 1958, and the bank was moved to the First National building on the southeast corner of the square. Directors at this time were James Sullivan, C. T. Hubbard, John Henard, J. M. Orr, E. W. Blain, Dee McDowell, and Lewis Morris.
Following the death of E. W. Blain in 1960, Luther Gribble was placed on the board and elected president. John Holton was approved as a director in October 1960 when a vacancy occurred by John Henard’s resignation, Mr. Hubbard continued as executive officer. Mr. Gribble died in 1964 and C. T. Hubbard was elected president.
The second important step forward under the direction of C. T. Hubbard was the decision to build a larger and more modern bank building. The building of the Hotel Wellington which was also the bank site at the time of the merger was purchased and razed. A magnificent building of Spanish design was erected and the Wellington State Bank moved to its new headquarters on April 17, 1971. This marked one of the major steps forward in the history of the Collingsworth area. Directors were James Sullivan, Dee McDowell, John Holton, J. M. Orr, Lewis Morris, E. M. Hunter and C. T. Hubbard. The vacancies which were created by the death of Lewis Morris and Dee McDowell were filled by Fred Cox and John McDowell.
The fifth administrative period began in the mid-seventies when financial institutions were being flooded with changes. Regulations from the Federal Reserve and banking department created change after change in every department of the bank. It became apparent that it was necessary to begin the ground work for converting the bank’s manual operation to a computer system. Customers became numbers! Every bank account had to have a different number. There would be no more free counter checks. Customers would purchase their own personalized checks bearing their account number. Banks were buying their deposits by issuing Certificates of Deposit to their customers. The eighties brought interest to checking accounts.
Interest on notes climbed as the bank was forced to pay higher interest on certificates. Service charges, which the bank had never imposed on its customers, were now being applied.
Mr. Hubbard was looking forward to retirement. Bill Beall of Duncanville joined Wellington State in 1976 as a director and vice president. He was elected president in 1977 and Mr. Hubbard remained as President Emeritus until he retired in August 1978 after 24 years of service to the bank and community.
Bill Beall resigned in October 1981 and accepted a position with Western National Bank in Amarillo. Billy F. Moseley, who had been with Wellington State as executive vice president and director since March 1978, was elected president in November 1981.
Negotiations were being made by the directors to sell the bank and it was on February 15, 1983, when 90% of the outstanding stock was sold to Mike Stinson of Ft. Worth and O. L. Cooper. This ushered in the sixth period of administration. Mr. Cooper, who moved to Wellington from Memphis, had been named president when Billy Moseley resigned in November 1982. The existing board of directors resigned and the new directors elected were O. L. Cooper, chairman; Mike Stinson, Jack Neeley, Walter Clements III, and Jimmy Parker of Stamford. The sale of the bank reduced the shareholders from 60 to 13.
In June 1983, the seventh phase began when an agreement was signed to merge with Independent Bank Shares, Inc., of Abilene. Sydney E. Niblo and Brad Stephens of Abilene were elected to the board when Jimmy Parker resigned in February 1984.
Upon meeting all requirements, approval was given by the Federal Reserve Board and the banking department on June 29, 1984, Wellington State Bank became the eighth bank in the holding company with First State Bank of Abilene as the lead bank.
During IBSI ownership, O. L. Cooper (November 1982-September 1985), Ted Jordan (September 1985-February 1987) served as presidents. Local business man Harley (Bill) Hatch and farmer Benson Long were added to the board in the fall of 1985. Mark Keys became president in March 1987.
On December 7, 1990, the eighth administrative phase began. A group of 25 local shareholders purchased Wellington State Bank from IBSI. Mr. Keys remained as president and Richard Sims was made chairman of the board. The shareholders objectives were to get the bank back into small hometown banking philosophies. Their desired blossomed with Mr. Keys, Mr. Sims, Jack Neeley as Cashier, John Holton, Sr., John Holton, Jr., Dannie Morris, and Carl Wischkaemper serving as directors. At the time of acquisition, the bank had $3,023,000 in capital and total assets of $38,968,882.83.
With the vision for diversity and growth during this continual changing banking climate, the bank sought out potential acquisitions. On September 29, 1994, Wellington State Bank ventured into new ground by acquiring First National Bank of Wheeler.
The ninth administrative phase started in January 1996, with the election of Richard Sims as president and John Holton, Jr. as chairman. The other three directors serving were Mr. Holton, Sr., Mr. Neeley, and Mr. Morris. The diversity by expansion philosophy started under Mr. Sims as chairman continued under his presidency. January saw the acquisition of the Bank of America Childress and Memphis branches.
On December 2, 1996, the bank opened a Loan Production Office in Canadian. On February 24, 1997, Wellington State Bank converted the LPO to a full-service branch named Canadian Banking Center.
1998 saw the retirement of Jack Neeley, long time cashier and director of the bank. March of 1999 saw the addition of Mr. Forrest Lloyd, Mr. Danny Martin and Mr. Richard Fourmentin to the Board of Directors.
The 21st Century brought new technology to the institution with new banking medians such as debit cards, phone banking, internet banking, imaged bank statements, and mobile banking. The Canadian and Childress Banking Centers both moved into new facilities with all the latest in modern technology.
On January 3, 2012, Wellington State Bank opened its sixth location. An LPO/DPO in Bowie, Texas. By April 22, 2013, the location had grown enough that it was converted to a full service branch. Then on October 2014, the bank was able to win the bid process for the acquisition Ozona National banks location in Bowie picking up a five year old building and numerous loans and deposits.
The bank lost a long-time supporter, stockholder, and director on November 2013 as Mr. John E. Holton Sr. passed away.
In October of 2015, the bank agreed to a merger with Security State Bank of Littlefield. The bank has three locations in Littlefield, Olton, and Lubbock with assets of approximately $125 million, loans of $90 million, and deposits of $95 million. At the merger date, Wellington State Bank was $260 million in assets, with $133 million in loans, and deposits of $233 million. Wellington State Bank would be the surviving entity. The holding companies merged as of the close of business December 31, 2015. WSB Bancshares, Inc., the holding company of Wellington State Bank, will own both banks till the bank conversion date of February 20th, 2016. At that time they will become Wellington State Bank with locations in Bowie, Canadian, Childress, Littlefield, Lubbock, Memphis, Olton, Wellington, and Wheeler. The new combined bank will hold approximately $390 million in assets, loans of roughly $225 million, and estimated deposits of $335 million as of the conversion date.
The current ownership group celebrated twenty-five years of ownership on December 7th, 2015. On January 6, 2016, one hundred and ten years will have passed since the bank was formed by the vision of fourteen men wanting to serve the people of this farming and ranching area. Today, those same visions are the backbone of our institution with 90 employees serving you, our customers, at convenient locations across Texas. The board, officers, and employees thank the citizens of this area for their business and if you are not a customer, what are you waiting for, come meet the friendly people at WSB and let our service win you over. Looking toward the future, Wellington State Bank will continue working as our founders did…serving our customers and communities while making a good bank better.