One Hundred Year History of The Tampa State Bank
February 19,1901 – February 19, 2001
The Tampa State Bank was chartered by the Kansas Banking Board on February 19, 1901. The incorporators were members of the Sidney G. Cooke family of Herington, Kansas. They founded the Bank of Herington in the late 19th century. The only local stockholders were P.H. and J.C. Meehan and Edward Assmann. They each owned one share, and the other 47 shares were owned by the Cooke family and W.C. Kandt of Herington.
The Meehan family acquired controlling interest in The Tampa State Bank in 1919. They and their heirs owned the controlling interest until 1972 when their stock sold to Edward J. Costello and Mary K. Costello. The Costello family has owned the majority interest in the bank since then.
W.C. Kandt became the first Cashier and managing officer when the bank opened February 19, 1901 and resigned four months later on June 22, 1901. With much persuasion from Thornton Cooke, P. H. Meehan became Cashier and managing officer on June 22, 1901. Pat Meehan continued as managing officer until his death on February 4, 1944, guiding the bank for 43 years through the financial panic of the 1920’s and the Depression and drought of the 30’s, a time when many banks in the state and nation failed.
In October 1929, Wall Street suffered a big crash. Stock prices took a dive to very low levels. It took a while for this to hit the plains states, but eventually it did. Real estate and commodity prices dropped precipitously. Farmers would take their hogs to market and couldn’t get a bid to pay the freight. Grain prices dropped to the point where wheat was 10 to 15 cents a bushel and corn and other farm products were worth very little.
On top of depressed land and commodity prices, a drought set in which lasted through most the 30’s. The farmers in western Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas had broken sod that should never have seen a mold board plow and should have been left in native grass sod. The lack of moisture and high spring winds caused soil erosion. With no vegetation to hold the soil in place it lifted to the winds. These dust storms would block out any sunlight in mid-day.
Ed Costello, Tampa State Bank President, describes one of these storms from his childhood:
“I recall rolling corn on an April day of the early 30’s. A corn roller was made of two bull wheels and a double tongue (like a sulky) attached to one horse with a seat attached between the two bull wheels. This was used to pack the ground after the corn was planted. When I got to the end of a row, a mile from home, I saw a huge gray cloud rolling in from the southwest. At first, I thought it was rain, but by the time I reached the end of the row coming back, I could barely see the horse in front of me and I certainly could not see the farmstead.
I let the horse have her rein and she followed the fence line to a gate opening and walked a half-mile to the horse barn.”
President Roosevelt started many programs to help the farmers and the rest of the people who were suffering from the depression and the drought.
In one program, the Department of Agriculture was authorized to buy up hogs and then slaughter them and bury them. There was great opposition to this as it was thought the hogs should have been given to the poor who could not buy food.
The federal government adopted many programs to eliminate the suffering from the depression and drought. These were WPA (Works Progress Administration) that provided many jobs to improve the infrastructure of the country, which also included sanitary outdoor privies which are still seen around the countryside.
The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) was made up of teenagers and young men in their 20’s who built terraces and dams. The dam at the Marion County Lake was built by the CCC. They built the lake and dam by using horses, dirt slips and a lot of manual labor. They lived in barracks at the lakeside and when they finished the lake project most of them enlisted or were drafted, as this was in the late 30’s and early 40’s.
The AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Act) was a program to help the farmers reduce grain and livestock production, and thus increase prices for the commodities. This program continues to this day but the Freedom to Farm Act adopted in the 90’s has brought back surpluses, low prices and conditions similar to the 30’s.
The Depression and drought were not only bad for farmers and city dwellers, but it was very difficult for banks and bankers. If Pat Meehan had a loan go sour, he did not charge it off against the capital of the bank, but would buy the note personally so the bank wouldn’t suffer a loss. When some prospective borrower did not qualify for a bank loan, he sometimes would make a personal loan from his own funds.
During the 30’s there was a rash of daylight hold-ups of banks, especially in small towns. Pretty Boy Floyd, Bonnie Parker, Dillinger and the rest were giving banks a bad time with their robberies. Many of the banks were in towns that had little or no police protection. Some of them organized their own little militias. When I joined the Tampa State Bank there was a small arsenal there – boxes of 30 caliber ammunition for rifles, 45 colt revolver, 38 caliber pistol. Pat Meehan was an avid hunter and trap shooter, so he was prepared for any desperadoes who might want some of his depositors’ money.
J. F. Rhodes, who began his career with the bank in 1916, became the managing officer on the death of Meehan and continued in this capacity until September 1953, at which time Edward J. Costello became the managing officer. Christopher G. Costello became the managing officer in 1988. The bank has had only four managing officers in its 100 year’s history, with the exception of Kandt’s four-month term.
The bank was originally housed in a wooden building that was situated just south of the American Legion Building. The minute book of the bank reflects that in the early morning hours of November 6, 1902, the bank was burglarized. The theft was discovered by Andy Johnson who called Pat Meehan. Meehan lived 6.5 miles southeast of Tampa at the Meehan farm on Mud Creek. He rode to town on a black horse that was white with sweat when he reached the bank. The loss was fixed at $3,856.47, of which $3000.00 was covered by insurance. The directors covered another $400.00 of the loss by raising the value of the real estate owned by the bank and $456.47 was charged off as a loss. The minute book further read, “It being advisable to equip the bank with a modern safe, the President was authorized to purchase such a safe that would serve its uses and safety.”
During the night of February 9, 1963, the bank was again burglarized. At that time, the bank was located on the west side of street at the corner of 3rd and Main streets.
The Farmers Mutual Telephone Company rented a small room on the west side of the bank for its telephone exchange. The exchange was open for business from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., however the operator slept overnight at the exchange to handle emergency calls.
Anna Beisel was the operator on duty that fateful night. The burglars entered the bank by breaking in through a wooden door on the south side of the bank. They went to work on the large safe in front of the bank. Mrs. Beisel heard some noise but then a freight train went through town and she couldn’t hear any more. The burglars had broken open the front safe. Inside the front safe was the currency safe. Its walls were 10” steel. They gave up on this safe. They filled a wastebasket full of silver, which was very heavy when filled with coins.
They then took their sledgehammer to work on the vault door. By this time the train had gone through the town. They gave the vault door combination lock a good lick. Anna Beisel knew something was wrong then.
The City of Tampa maintained a combined fire siren and noon whistle on top of the bank. The switch to this siren was located in the telephone office. When the burglars hit the vault door, Anna Beisel flipped the switch to set off the fire siren. The burglars knew that they had set off a bank alarm and made a quick exit leaving the basket of coins and all of their tools – sledge hammer, crow bars and others – which had been newly purchased at a hardware store in Wichita, as the store labels were still on the tools.
The bank minute book states that the total loss was as follows:
Cash Stolen $ 29.09
Cost of repairs to safe and vault $240.00
The managing officer was instructed to purchase new modern front and rear doors to replace the wooden doors.
The burglars had also broken into the Ramona State Bank the same night. They were later captured by the FBI and tried and convicted in Federal Court in Wichita. One of the burglars was a disbarred lawyer from Wichita. Anna Beisel was paid a cash reward by the bank.
A new bank building was constructed in 1905, which is now a restaurant.
A rather quaint incident occurred in 1968. Pat Costello, son of Mary and Ed Costello, was attending Kansas University, and he had a summer job with the Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Government in Utah.
One Friday afternoon, he and some of his co-workers decided to spend the weekend in San Francisco. Pat needed some cash and he went to a small town Utah bank to cash a check. He told the banker that his dad was employed at The Tampa State Bank and if the banker would call the bank, his dad would verify that the check was good. The banker asked for the Tampa State Bank phone number. Pat said, “20”. The bank phone was still operating with the Farmers Mutual Phone Company (later the Tri-County Telephone Company) and that was its 2-digit number. The banker wanted to know the rest of the number.
Pat said, “That was it – 20 Tampa, Kansas.”
The banker called the number and viola! He got through. Ida Backhus was the operator. It was 4:30 p.m. in Tampa and 2:30 p.m. in Utah. When the banker asked for Ed Costello at the Tampa State Bank, Ida said, “He is not there.”
The banker said, “How do you know? You never rang the bank.”
Ida said, “The bank closes at 4:00 p.m. and I saw Ed’s car leave five minutes ago. The Utah banker hung up, threw up his hands and said, “No one could make up a story like this” and he cashed pat’s check, less a long distance charge to “20 Tampa, Kansas.”
In November of 1979, the bank moved to new quarters at 4th and Main where the bank is now located. A new modern banking structure, 70’ x 44’ with a drive-up window, was built on the site of the Tampa Motor Car Company, which building had housed the Meehan Car dealership, Assman Garage, Dieker Garage, Hajak Garage, and Janzen Garage. The old garage building was demolished and the new bank facility was constructed on this site.
Ed and Mary Costello, Chris and Diana Costello, Jim and Joan Donahue acquired the Chase County Bank in 1984. The Chase County Bank was merged into the Tampa State Bankshares, Inc. in 1986. The Chase County Bank was sold in 1992 to the Cottonwood Valley Bank.
In 1989, The Tampa State Bank opened a branch in Ramona, Kansas in the old Ramona State Bank building.
In 1997, the Kansas State Banking board authorized The Tampa State Bank to open a branch banking facility in Marion, Kansas. A new branch bank building was built at 1100 East Main Street in Marion. The new modern facility with a drive-up ATM and teller window was opened for business on April 1, 1998. The bank has had a substantial growth in total deposits and assets since then.
The Tampa State Bank has a policy of maintaining very strong capital accounts. We try to maintain our capital at a level that is at least 10% of our total assets in order to give our depositors additional protection over and above the FDIC insurance. In addition to the capital of The Tampa State Bank, the Tampa State Bankshares, Inc. has capital in excess of $1,000,000.00 for the security of our customers.
The bank has grown over the years with some setbacks during the Depression years. The books of the bank reflect the following total resources at five-year intervals beginning in 1910:
As you will note, the bank has had substantial growth since 1988 when Chris Costello became managing officer with the help of his sister Mickey Lundy and all of the other bank employees.
The Tampa State Bank is a community bank that has tried to serve all of its customers in Marion, Dickinson, Morris, and Chase counties. We employ local people who know all of our customers and we treat all accounts with confidence and respect. Our customers are our family, neighbors, and friends – not just account numbers.
We make loans to farmers, ranchers and commercial businesses and make all types of consumer loans.
One of the assets that the bank has had over our 100 years of existence which is not reflected in its total assets is the long years of service it has received from its directors, officers, and employees.
The growth of the bank over the years was made possible not only by the efforts of the foregoing and current directors, officers and employees, but also because of the loyalty shown by the bank customers over the years. We hope that we will continue to merit your faith and trust in the future.
Edward J. Costello