National Bank tellers are ready for customers. NOTE: In the door glass at right you can see the reflection of the photographer with his camera on a tripod.

Ancestors, Legends & Time

National Bank had currency printed featuring Webb City

Above the car’s front fender, you can see the U.S. Geological Survey benchmark mounted on the building’s front. (And it’s still there today.)

Jeanne Newby

Believing this fast growing mining town was in need of a financial institution, the First National Bank was organized in October of 1890. The Officers of the First National Bank were: E. B. Allen, president, born in Clay County, Mo., from St. Louis; John C. Guinn, vice president, a well-known land and mine owner, moved to this area in 1870 from Georgia; J.H. Rover, cashier, who hailed from Ohio but had recently worked for First National in Leavenworth, Kan.

In the early days of Webb City history, it was noted that Webb City had not only one bank but three, all located within the same city block. 

There was Webb City Bank, on the northwest corner of Main (Allen Street at the time) and Broadway (Main Street at the time). It was established in 1882 by John C. Webb and his son, E.T. Webb.

Merchants & Miners Bank was on the southwest corner of Main (Allen) and Daugherty streets.  L.J. Stevison and W.E. Patten established it in 1905.

In the center of the block, between the other two banks was the National Bank. It was initially established in 1889 by J.C. Stewart as the Exchange Bank. It merged with National Bank and later with Webb City Bank.

National Bank seemed to fade out of Webb City history after merging with the Webb City Bank, but that little bank held notoriety in the town of Webb City. First of all, the building, which is now home to Roderique Insurance, has a U.S. Geological Survey benchmark on the outside of the building. Bench marks, engraved with the elevation, were no longer used after 1935, but few are still in existence or prominently displayed as is the one on the National Bank Building. 

Another interesting feature is that the bank vault was built first, then the building was built around that vault. Needless to say, the vault still stands in the Roderique Insurance office as a reminder of the origin of the building.

With the bank having the name National Bank, it automatically gives that bank a distinction of being chartered with the federal government. Once  banks were chartered they had the option of depositing bonds with the federal government, which then allowed them to issue their own bank notes using the bonds as collateral. Those bank notes looked just like any other federal note, but they were allowed to feature on the face of the note, the name of the town, the name of the bank, and the signatures of bank officials. The notes were printed in Washington D.C. at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The money was good all across the country and is still legal tender today (but you might want to hold onto it if you are lucky enough to get possession of one of the notes.) Over 12,000 National banks issued bank notes from 1893 to 1935 across the country.

Most of the cities in our area had a National Bank, including: Webb City, Joplin, Carthage, Carterville, Neosho, Golden City, Lamar and Jasper.

There is Webb City currency still around, but not in actual circulation. What a wonderful piece of history it would be to hold in your hand. Webb City printed $1,252,450  worth of national currency from 1890 to 1929. Prices of these collectibles may range from $200 to over $1,000 (prices change often) due to the blue seal, red seal, condition, etc. You have to call a professional money broker to see what is being offered. Or you can buy collectors suggested price books.

Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.

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