The front and back of a bill printed for the National Bank of Webb City.

Ancestors, Legends & Time

National Bank had its own currency printed

Jeanne Newby

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

There was the Webb City Bank on the northwest corner of Main (Allen Street back then) Street and Broadway (Main Street back then) which was started by John C. Webb and his son E.T. Webb in 1882 .

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

In the center of the block, between the other two banks, was the National Bank. Established by J.C. Stewart, it started out as the Exchange Bank in 1889.

Note the U.S. Geological Survey Bench Mark (seen above the car’s front headlights). You can still see it today on the building. But Doctor Baird’s office is no longer on the second floor.

The 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, now occupied by Roderique Insurance, has a U.S. Geological Survey Bench Mark on the front of the building. Bench marks were no longer used after 1935, but few are still in existence or as prominently displayed as the one on the National Bank Building. Another interesting feature about the National bank 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 a bank was chartered they had the option of depositing bonds with the federal government which then allowed that bank to issue its 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 across the country from 1893 to 1935.

Most of the cities in our area had a national bank, including: Webb City, Joplin, Carthage, Carterville, Neosho, Golden City, Lamar, Jasper and many others all over the state of Missouri.

There is Webb City currency still around, but not in actual circulation. What a wonderful piece of history to hold in your hand. Webb City printed $1,252,450  worth of national currency from 1890 – 1929. Prices of these collectibles may range from $200 to over $1,000, due to the blue seal, red seal, condition, etc. You have to call a professional money broker to see the current value or order a suggested price book.

The National Bank teller windows.

Jeanne’s new book, “The Zinc City, Webb City, Missouri” is now available at Webb City Chamber office and other local retailers, such at Maggie Jane’s Gifts, at 8 S. Main St.

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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