|Bank of Stockton|
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Bank of Stockton
The year was 1867, just two years after the Civil War. Banks were failing throughout the country as the fibers of a young nation were mending. Struggles of the past were forgotten and new hopes were emerging. Stockton's annual flood had long since passed, and the blistering summer heat had turned the City's rivers into avenues of dust. The population of Stockton at this time was 4,429, consisting of 3,582 white males, 357 white females, 379 domesticated Indians and 81 Blacks.
On the 12th day of August, 1867, a Certificate of Incorporation of the Bank of Stockton was filed with the San Joaquin County clerk. The first group of organizers, 29 in number, met at the office of the Union Copper Mining Company on El Dorado Street near Main.
They elected as President, J. M. Kelsey, who was then the San Joaquin County Treasurer and Tax Collector. Mr. Kelsey was also an Officer of the Union Copper Mining Company, in addition to other business interests. James Littlehale, the Bank's first Cashier, arrived in Stockton in 1852. He was a City Treasurer from 1866 to 1874 and operated a successful produce brokerage, in addition to being Secretary-Treasurer to the Union Copper Mining Company. B. W. Bours came from a pioneer land and banking family in Stockton. His name still lives on with the dedication of Bours Park in Stockton. L. U. Shippee, who later became the Bank's second President, was a major landowner in the county. One name on the first Board of Directors was destined to continue on through the years: Andrew W. Simpson, who served as a Vice President for 54 years, from 1867 to 1921. Born in Brunswick, Maine, on July 15, 1831, he came to Stockton in November 1851, securing work in the lumber business with his brother, Asa. Commerce, Main, Madison and Weber Avenue bound the main yard of his lumber business. A W. Simpson was a member of the Weber Fire Engine Company as well. In 1888, he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Chicago. He was succeeded by his son, A. W. Simpson, Jr., and at his death in 1945; Andrew W. Simpson III was elected to the Board. He retired from the Board in 1984. In 1868, another name, well known to local residents, appeared on the Board. Charles Haas, who served until 1911, and was succeeded by his son, Charles J. Haas, who served until 1915. In more recent years, the grandson, R. Raymond Haas served as Director from 1937 until his death in 1966. This community name was well known for the family business of "Haas & Sons," a jewelry store, founded in the 1850s. Haas & Sons was in business for over a century, run by three generations of the Haas Family until Raymond's retirement in 1964. The men that founded the bank were self-made businessmen and well-respected community leaders.
The first location of the Bank of Stockton was shared with the Union Copper Mining Company at 179 El Dorado Street, between Main Street and Levee. Since that time, Levee has been changed to what we know today as Weber Avenue. The rent was a mere $41 per month! Today, that location would be 75 North El Dorado. When bank business began in September 20, 1867, the Bank's founders had so much faith in the community and its people that they actually loaned money before the first deposit came in! The first loan of $1,000 was made to J. A. Walker. The following day, the first commercial deposit was made by Jones, Hewlett & Sons. H. H. Hewlett was an owner of this business, as well as an original founder and Director of the Bank of Stockton. He served from August 12, 1867, to September 8, 1868, and again served on the Board from January 1894 until his death in 1903. He was known as one of the most successful bankers on the Pacific Coast, holding the second largest amount of stock in the Bank of California. He was also connected with other banking institutions in the State. Within the first 24 days of operation, James Littlehale, the Bank's Cashier, was proud to report to the Board $100,000 worth of business!
A large part of the early acceptance of the Bank was due to the reputation of the men who were its founders. The leading principles by which they operated had a great deal of meaning to depositors. A document, entitled "An Agreement with Depositors" pledged that the Bank's Board of Directors would use deposits to make loans and investments, but always within the Laws of California, and always with the safety of depositors to come before the profit of the Corporation. In one case, the Board of Directors of the Bank voted to buy "feed and seed" for a local farmer who had experienced a run of ill fortune. The feed and seed would enable him to plant and reap a crop, which meant that he could meet his obligations and keep his farm. The minutes of the directors recall that their vote in this matter was unanimous, indicative of their genuine concern for the well being of their customers and community.
In 1874, a deal was made to purchase the northwest corner of Main and El Dorado Street in Stockton, where the Mission once stood. Incidentally, the business center of Stockton at that time and for many years to follow was bound by Hunter, Market and Levee. A group of Stockholders objected to the purchase price of $24,000 as well as the location, and their vigorous protest caused the Directors to cancel the sale. Another group of Stockholders urged the purchase of the Charles M. Weber block bound by Hunter, El Dorado, Weber and Bridge (The Hotel Stockton area) for $23,000. This site was known as "Weber's Hole" and was not accepted by the Board. Later, the Stockton Baths were built on that site, and after they were destroyed by fire, The Hotel Stockton Company bought the land. The hotel was opened in 1910.
In 1875, Bank business had increased to the point where the original office was too small to provide sufficient service; consequently, a lease was signed for the rental of the McKee Building at the southwest corner of Hunter and Main, where the Sterling Department Store once stood. The rent was $220 per month, less $50 received by sub-renting the basement. The ten-year lease was signed December 30, 1875.
On February 1, 1876, the first meeting was held in the "New Banking House." The President reported that a new vault, plus furniture, and the expense of moving had cost $6,398.86. President Kelsey was not destined to enjoy the new environment for long. On January 29, 1877, a special Meeting of the Board was called to pass resolutions of respect for Mr. Kelsey, who was that morning, found dead in his houseboat on Stockton Slough near Banner Island. On February 6, 1877, L. U. Shippee was elected President. Shippee had large farming interests and gave his name to a parcel of land still known as "Shippee Tract." He served for a period of 16 years until 1893 and was responsible for bringing the first State Fair of California to Stockton. His name lives on in the community for many achievements. A man whose name was destined to remain prominent throughout the years succeeded Shippee: Fred M. West.
West had been elected Secretary in 1880, following the death of James Littlehale, and after his selection as President in 1893, served in this capacity until 1909.
It was at the December 10th meeting of 1903 that the Board considered buying what was known as the "Arcade Property" on the northeast corner of Main and San Joaquin from Messrs. Rosenbaum, Guernsey and Fraser for the sum of $75,000. After the approval of the attorneys, the deal was closed on December 2, 1903. Speaking of attorneys, Nicol and Orr had been elected attorneys for the Bank of Stockton, and that firm with its various changes in personnel, evolved to Nutter and Orr, then Nutter and Rutherford, then Rutherford and Hancock, and in later years, Rutherford, Jacobs, Cavalero and Dietrich. They still represent the Bank today and are known as Bray, Geiger, Rudquist & Nuss.
On July 17, 1906, a special Meeting of the Stockholders authorized the expenditure of $250,000 to build a new bank. This new home for the Bank of Stockton was constructed on the northeast corner of Main and San Joaquin Street where business is still conducted today. "Stockton's First Skyscraper" graced the paper as headlines; and it was the new Bank of Stockton that the community was talking about. Such was the pride of the Stockton community, that Frank Daniel Briare, Jr. made the first deposit when the Bank opened for business in its new home. The young man was fifteen years old and stood at the head of a long line before nine o'clock in the morning. He had his mind made up that he would have the proud distinction of placing the first deposit in the Bank's new location. He was nicknamed "Frank on the Spot" by the community because of his eager enthusiasm. Frank's dad was the City's Chief of Police.
President Fred West built upon the tradition of Bank of Stockton's commitment to the community. West, also a County Treasurer, played a major role in bringing both the Santa Fe and Western Pacific Railroads to Stockton. He was also the first President of the Stockton Chamber of Commerce. West Lane, in Stockton and Lodi, was named after the West family. President West's nephew, Frank A. West, served as Director of the Bank from 1910 to 1912, and again from 1913 to 1915. In more recent years, Frank West, Jr. served on the Board from 1952 to 1973. Incidentally, Director Frank West, Jr.'s grandmother was a Kelsey. Frank was the great-grandson of our first President, J. M. Kelsey. Another Kelsey sister married Otto Grunsky, an uncle of a former Vice-President and Trust Officer, Carrol G. Grunsky. So the Kelsey family through the female side has been closely associated with the Bank through many generations.
The early years of the Bank of Stockton concluded with a span of father-son leadership. R. E. Wilhoit, elected to the Board in 1894, succeeded Frank M. West as President in September 1909. Having served his community as a County Supervisor, Recorder, City Council President and Board of Education President, R. E. Wilhoit exemplified the Bank of Stockton's philosophy of community involvement and commitment. At the Annual meeting on January 15, 1917, R. E. Wilhoit asked that he be relieved of the duties of President due to ill health, although he would remain on the Board. His son, Eugene L. Wilhoit, served as President from 1917 to 1949, and not only maintained, but augmented the prestige of the Wilhoit name in financial circles. When the Bank of Stockton was frequently referred to as the "Wilhoit Bank," it carried with it a ring of confidence and assurance to Depositors and Stockholders alike. On June 21, 1922, R. E. Wilhoit was seated at his desk at the Bank when he slumped forward, dead of a heart attack. It was a fitting way for him to go, in the environment he loved so well.
The Bank of Stockton and Eugene Wilhoit were instrumental in bringing University of the Pacific to Stockton. In the early 1920's, Tully C. Knoles came to Stockton, with the purpose of arranging to move a small college to the Stockton area from San Jose. Tully first called on Gene Wilhoit. Wilhoit had been a graduate of the College of the Pacific on the San Jose campus and in 1922 was elected to C.O.P.'s Board of Regents. In 1924, Eugene Wilhoit and Tully Knoles formed a committee to help raise money to relocate the University from San Jose to Stockton. Once here, one of the first things the college needed was financial assistance, and Wilhoit strongly assisted. This enabled the College of the Pacific, now the University of the Pacific, to move to Stockton.
Growth and Change
With the advent of the Second World War, Stockton's expansion came to a halt. Its airport became a training base for young flyers; the new port was being run by the Army, the Navy was training officers at the College of the Pacific, and the marine industry in Stockton was working around the clock to turn out mine sweepers, tugs and barges. When the hostilities ended, the largest westward migration of people since the Gold Rush hit California. Stockton, sharing in this growth, saw its city limits moving out in all directions.
In 1949, R. L. Eberhardt, called "Ebe", became the sixth President of the Bank of Stockton. Ebe graduated from the University of California in 1923 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He served in the U.S. Army, American Expeditionary Forces in WWI and became a Master Sergeant with numerous military honors. In 1924, he married Charlotte H. MacKenzie and they had four children. With experience as an accountant with Irvine & Muir Lumber Company in Willits, Ca., and experience as Assistant Cashier with Bank of Willits, he became a State Bank Examiner for the California State Banking Department. In 1927, he came to the Bank of Stockton as Assistant Vice President and Cashier. At that time, the Bank's assets totaled $9,000,000. In 1931, he became Vice President and in 1936, he was elected to the position of Executive Vice President. He served in that position until 1949, when he was elected President of the Bank. He was very active in the community, as evidenced by his many years on the Port Commission and County Fair Board. He also served as President of the California Bankers Association and was a long time Regent of the University of the Pacific. Much of the Bank's growth took place in the 36 years that R. L. Eberhardt was associated with it.
Ebe had plans for a new Headquarters to be located at Miner and San Joaquin Streets in Stockton, where for many years, the steeple of the Central Methodist Church had been a Stockton landmark. The architect, engineers, builders and interior decorators did an outstanding job, but R.L. Eberhardt had the vision and drive to carry it through. In 1960, this vision of a bigger and greater Bank of Stockton was at last completed. It was his crowning achievement. Thousands of people came to see "the most modern banking facility in the State". R. L. Eberhardt served as President from 1949 until his death in 1963, when his son, Robert M. (Bob) Eberhardt, was named President.
Bob graduated from the University of the Pacific in Stockton. After finishing his secondary education at the New Mexico Military Institute, Bob enrolled at UOP, where he played football for the famous Amos Alonzo Stagg. Midway through the season, he was called by the Air Force to serve in the Azores and France. Following World War II, he returned home to discover that University rules mandated that he begin his college education again as a freshman. Meanwhile, Bob married Mary Elizabeth "Mimi" Dutton in 1947. Upon graduation in 1951, Bob was eager to follow in his father's footsteps as a banker.
In 1952, Bob joined the California State Banking Department as an examiner, in the same position his father had held 28 years earlier. He remained an examiner until 1956, when he began working at the Bank of Stockton. In 1958, he was named to the Board of Directors, and in 1959, he was appointed Vice President. In 1961, he became Executive Vice President and worked alongside his father. In 1963, following his father's death, he took the helm as President of Bank of Stockton, as well as President of the Independent Bankers Association of Northern California. That same year, he succeeded his father as a member of the Board of Regents at UOP.
In 1969, at the age of 42, Robert M. Eberhardt became one of the youngest presidents of the California Bankers Association. As chairman of the Bankers Responsible Government Committee, he helped bring community banks together to give them a voice in legislation in order to compete with larger, national banks. Bob's many accomplishments brought greater strength to his leadership, and so the Bank of Stockton continued to grow steadily and successfully.
In 1968, President Eberhardt negotiated with Betsy Carson Gunton, the daughter of one of the Bank's original depositors, William McKendree Carson, for the purchase of the land formerly owned by her father. It is where Pacific Avenue and Benjamin Holt Drive in Stockton are located today. Carson was one of the county's earliest ranchers. He had a great influence on construction in the Stockton area, as well as supervising the building of the first "Grand Hotel." Carson acquired a Spanish land grant in the vicinity of the Five Mile House on Lower Sacramento Road and made his residence there. This piece of land was purchased for the purpose of the Bank's first "Branch Office," and it carried with it much meaning since Carson had his ranch there years before the Bank was founded. The Carson Oaks Office opened its doors in 1970 and continues to serve a large part of the Stockton community, accommodating numerous businesses and customers due to its convenient location.
1980 saw even more growth for the Bank, with the acquisition of Mid-Cal National Bank. This acquisition gave Bank of Stockton immediate branch representation throughout San Joaquin County, in the communities of Lodi, Tracy, Manteca, and representation in Pine Grove, located in Amador County, and established Bank of Stockton's first "branch network".
On September 16, 1990, the Bank's Quail Lakes Delta Office opened in Stockton. This office was built to meet the growing needs of the Bank's northwest customer base. A delta theme for the new office was created to recall an era when the surrounding areas in Northwest Stockton were once part of the vast Delta wetlands.
Slow, cautious growth has been a tradition for Bank of Stockton. In May of 1990, the opportunity arose for the Bank to acquire the deposits of the insolvent Royal Oaks Savings and Loan in Ripon. This acquisition created a new branch location for Bank of Stockton in Ripon.
The Bank grew in other areas as well. Under Bob Eberhardt's visionary leadership, the Bank introduced many new products and services, all focusing on one primary goal: to provide our customers with greater convenience and better service. In 1991, Bank of Stockton became a member of the STAR SYSTEM® ATM network, and shortly after added CIRRUS® and EXPLORE® features, allowing customers to get cash and make point-of-sale purchases worldwide. In 1992, ACCESS 24, a 24-hour voice account information phone line, joined the list of conveniences. This product allowed customers to inquire about their deposit and loan account information via a touch-tone telephone, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In 1993, Bank of Stockton became the first bank on the West Coast to introduce the innovative "Image Check System" which replaced cancelled checks with reduced images of cleared checks in numerical order. The convenience of Imaged Statements was well received by customers with a 99% acceptance rate, and banks throughout the state consulted with Bank of Stockton on how to successfully implement the Image Check System.
In 1990, President Bob Eberhardt acquired the photo collection of late photographer, Leonard Covello, with the purpose of preserving local history. While it may seem unusual for a bank to show interest in historical photos, the Bank's appreciation for local history was unprecedented. The opportunity to acquire the Covello Collection, which dated back to 1850 and consisted of more than 21,000 historical photos from the Central Valley, the Mother Lode and surrounding communities, was an opportunity that Eberhardt could not let pass. Since the acquisition, the Bank has expanded the collection, which is housed in its Archives Department. The photo collection has been scanned into a visual database and linked to corresponding text, allowing the public to view the photographs on a computer and learn about their content. This amazing technology allowed the Bank to maintain the images of the past for perpetuity in the safest of environments, so that they could be shared with future generations. The Bank continues to seek additions to the collection, and uses the collection as its main resource for its annual Historical Calendar mailing to customers and friends.
The Vision Continues
In the fall of 1994, President Robert M. Eberhardt unexpectedly passed away. He was on a long-awaited family vacation in Budapest, Hungary. The legacy of leadership, commitment and determination that Robert M. Eberhardt left behind continues to serve as a major component of Bank of Stockton's strength. When Douglass M. Eberhardt, Bob's brother, took his seat as the Bank's eighth President, the tradition of family leadership continued. He pledged his commitment to the traditions and philosophies that made Bank of Stockton a success for well over a century.
Douglass Eberhardt graduated from the College of the Pacific in 1959 with a Major in Business Administration and a Minor in Economics. He is a 1966 graduate of the University of Washington Pacific Coast Banking School and a 1974 graduate cum laude of the School for Bank Administration, majoring in Controllership. He also served in the U.S. Army Reserves, Armor Corps. Eberhardt has served on University of the Pacific's Board of Regents since 2000 and has been very involved in the progress and growth of the Eberhardt School of Business, named after the Eberhardt family in June of 1997. Like his brother and father before him, Doug is very involved in the community and serves on numerous boards and affiliations.
Under his leadership, the Bank has maintained its reputation of strength and service, while becoming a leader in banking technologies. Although Bank of Stockton continues to hold the distinction of being the oldest bank in California still operating under its original charter, Eberhardt's vision took the bank into the new millennium with state of the art banking technology to give customers banking convenience. Eberhardt's commitment to and investment in technology established Bank of Stockton as a leader among community banks across the state.
In the spring of 1996, the Bank introduced electronic banking through Quicken, QuickBooks and Microsoft® Money. Bank of Stockton was the first community bank in its markets to offer electronic banking. In tandem with the offering of electronic banking, Eberhardt's bank was the first community bank in its markets to launch an Internet website on the bank's products, services and history. Shortly thereafter, the bank created a dedicated Online Banking Department to provide online support and personalized service to online customers.
In response to a growing customer base in the Manteca, the Bank built a new, larger Manteca Office that opened in 1997. The new office, located at 660 North Main Street, would accommodate the bank's growth with an 11,750 square foot facility, 60 parking spaces, six drive-up lanes and drive-up ATMs. The bank closed its old Manteca location shortly thereafter, since the new location was an instant success with the Manteca customers.
On December 5, 1997, Bank of Stockton acquired three Bank of America branches that were scheduled to close. The result was representation in the cities of Angels Camp and Rio Vista, in addition to a large Bank of America office in Ripon that was soon remodeled and became the bank's main Ripon location.
Marking another milestone in the bank's history, Bank of Stockton became the first community bank headquartered in the Central Valley to reach more than $1 billion in assets in May of 1999. This accomplishment further solidified the bank's position of unsurpassed strength. The Board of Directors were given hats that read "$1 billion in assets" to commemorate the occasion. Again seeking the best in convenience for his customers, Eberhardt introduced the Master Money Debit card, offering customers the convenience of purchasing directly from one's checking account anywhere MasterCard is accepted, from all over the world.
The financial success of the Bank of Stockton under Doug Eberhardt's guidance afforded the bank the opportunity to invest in technology that revolutionized the way people banked. In April 2000, Bank of Stockton was one of the first banks in the state to offer Internet banking with Check Imaging. Internet banking required no software and could be accessed through the Internet on the Bank's website, where customers could retrieve account information, make real time transfers between Bank of Stockton accounts, make payments on loans and view or print actual images of their cleared checks. Soon, the introduction of e-mail balance notification, payments to credit cards, and deposit detail, whereby customers could see the front and back of each deposit slip and every item deposited within each deposit, were available. Over 60% of the Bank's customer base enjoys the convenience of internet banking.
In February of 2003, Bank of Stockton opened its first branch in Stanislaus County. Located in the Miller-Murdoch Building in the historic center of Oakdale, the branch has been well-received by the Oakdale community. The bank's growth in Stanislaus County continued with the purchase of Modesto and Turlock Commerce Banks in November of 2003. MCB and TCB, whose primary customers are businesses, are known for exceeding customer service expectations. They take great pride in delivering on that promise, and continue to operate under the Modesto and Turlock Commerce Bank brand, as Divisions of Bank of Stockton, in their respective markets.
In keeping with its tradition of delivering technological innovation for its customers, Bank of Stockton and its Divisions introduced Remote Deposit Capture in July of 2006 for business clients. The product allows a business to scan, view and deposit checks from a personal computer, without having to make trips to the bank. Businesses can deposit from multiple locations, have less prep time and quicker funds availability. Remote Deposit is part of the Bank's cash management service that can be tailored to business clients' needs. In keeping with the bank's philosophy of excellent service, the bank personally installs the product and provides on-going support. "Our service and support continue to set us apart from the bigger banks," Eberhardt said. "If our customers wanted us to wear top hats and tails, we would wear top hats and tails. Our customers deserve support from their bank, and we're here to give it to them, with a smile."
The opening of Elk Grove Commerce Bank in the fall of 2006 starts a new chapter in the Bank's growth. "We're very excited to become a part of the Elk Grove community," Eberhardt said. "It's a wonderful community with a lot of pride. We look forward to creating a great banking experience for our new Elk Grove customers."
Into the Future
President Eberhardt's leadership philosophy reflects his belief in providing superior customer service by meeting customers' needs. Whether customers are high-tech or high touch, Bank of Stockton and its Divisions are poised to meet their needs. Eberhardt believes that technology is "service enhancement", not service replacement. In addition to giving Bank of Stockton customers the best service and products, Eberhardt and the Board of Directors are strong advocates of community support. The Bank and its Divisions donate nearly two million dollars annually into the communities that it serves in the form of donations. Bank employees are encouraged to be actively involved in local non-profits, sharing time and talent to help our local communities. Our employees are your friends and neighbors.
Today, Bank of Stockton and its Divisions have 16 branches in contiguous market areas, located in Stockton, Lodi, Tracy, Ripon, Manteca, Oakdale, Pine Grove, Angels Camp, Rio Vista, Modesto, Turlock and Elk Grove.
Bank of Stockton opened its doors in 1867, just two years after the Civil War. Since then, the Bank and its Divisions continue to set a precedent for superior customer service, quality banking products and technological innovations. Our history tells a story of strength, service and commitment to generations of happy customers.
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