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Long history of banking in Belden

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BELDEN — A long chapter in the history of Belden came to a close last week.

Citizen’s State Bank in Belden closed its doors Friday. All operations have been moved to the bank’s Laurel branch, which opened in 2004.

The bank had a long and storied history in this southern Cedar County farming community.

The town of Belden sprang up out of a handful of railroad shacks that were used by railroad workers and as a watering stop for freight and passenger trains that were passing through the area.

The sounds of building the steel railroad tracks had just started to fade when a young man by the name of Fred Kimball began riding horseback to Belden from Coleridge to offer the community banking services.

Kimball worked as a clerk for Theodore F. Clark, who was the President of the Coleridge Bank. Kimball had a gunnysack of money tied to the saddle-horn on his horse and set up a banking shop a few days each week in front of the frame structure used as a post office and general store.

That makeshift operation eventually evolved into a real bank.

The first President of the Belden Bank was H.H. Clark, who served from 1890 to 1897. During his term as president the bank weathered the financial panic of 1893.

The second President of the Belden Bank, Theodore F. Clark, served from 1898 to 1908.

In 1903 the Belden Bank, working jointly with Smith and Westrope, erected the first brick structure in Belden.

F.A. McCornack served as the third President of First National Bank from 1909 until 1925. During his tenure in office the bank received a Federal Charter and officially became the First National Bank of Belden.

Along with the Federal Charter a number of citizens became the first stockholders at the bank. Some of the stockholders included George and Mary Westrope, Christian and Margaret Ardueser, James and Katherine Rabdau, F.A. McCormack, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Ardueser, Mr. and Mrs. John Hirschman, Rev. W.F. Schwerin and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Harper.

The First National Bank weathered the rough and trying period of 1919 to 1921 by continuing to pay dividends to its stockholders.

John Beuck was the fourth President of the First National Bank serving from 1925 through 1941.

The results of the hard times of the early 1920s were still present when the Great Depression of the 1930s struck.

The First National Bank of Belden and four other banks, out of 32 operating within a 25-mile radius of Belden, kept their doors open in spite of the overwhelming forces of the sweeping catastrophies.

Only those who remember those times and lived through them can realize the extent and force of this tremendous tidal wave which swept over the country.

In those years an organization known as the Farmer’s Holiday Movement was formed to help curtail the wholesale foreclosure of farm mortgages by banks and insurance companies.

The fifth President, R. K. (Dick) Draper served the First National Bank from 1941 through 1950. G.E. (Earl) Barks, held the office of president for the Belden Bank longer than any other president in the bank’s history. During Barks tenure in office, from 1950 until 1984, the bank remodeled the facilities in the brick building.

The Belden Bank operated out of this building until it was severely damaged by fire in February of 1966.

For a short time the Bank moved back into the restored quarters, but in 1967 moved permanently into the remodeled quarters of the American Legion Building which was just across the street.

In 1981 the bank was

remodeled and a drive-in

window was added on the

north side of the building.

In 1984 Bruce Barks was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors and David Hay became President.

Hay left in 1993 and First National Bank was sold to Citizen’s National Corporation of Wisner.

The interior of the bank building was remodeled under the new ownership.

The name of the bank was later changed to Citizen’s State Bank.

In 2015 the Belden facility