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Little Horn State Bank looks back 100 years

Thursday, May 16, 2019
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The year was 1919 and with $29,000 some men were determined to form a bank. There in the shadow of the Big Horn Mountains, five gentlemen signed the Articles of Incorporation for Little Horn State Bank. Little Horn State Bank has remained dedicated to community; rating its assets not only in dollars, but the quality of service experienced by its customers. Among those involved in creating a new banking institution on February 8, 1919 were; A. H. Bowman, Albert J. Sheets, of Hardin, S. G. Reynolds of Sheridan, Wyo., W. M. Spear of Sheridan, Wyo., and L. S. Fuller Sr. of Wyola.

Mr. Sheets was elected President and held the post for 32 years. With several banks in the area, Little Horn State Bank concentrated on the agriculture business community, and word got around the area, “If you’re in trouble, the folks at Little Horn State Bank might lend a sympathetic ear, also some money.”

During the 1929 depression, Little Horn State Bank held firm, a lot of credit given to Mr. Sheets for his keen sense of management. By 1935, controlling interest in the bank was acquired M. H. Tschrigi.

Throughout the 1930’s Little Horn State Bank continued to hold firm, drawing customers not only from Little Horn Valley, but Wyoming as well. Harvey Willcutt, a successful rancher, became President in 1964 and Chairman of the Board of Directors in 1966.

The same year, Little Horn State Bank left its home in Wyola to occupy a new building in Hardin. A gala grand opening was held in November with prizes given out and refreshments served along with handshakes and greetings offered from directors Willcutt, Engler, Hibbs, James McCoy, J. D. Kelly, Floyd Slattery and P.M. Rosenow was held. Mrs. R. J. Endicott was head cashier at the time and financial assets had grown to $1.8 million.

In 1967, Edmund Kelley, a grain grower, rancher and insurance agent was elected to the Board of Directors.

In 1971, Clarence Beck was elected to the Board of Directors, replacing Paul Engler. Other board members consisted of HW Willcutt, Cecil Wham, R.F. Hibbs, Albert Stevenson, Edmund Kelley and Erle Gross.

In 1979, during the banks 60th year, Erle C. Gross was elected President. During the same year, H.W. Willcutt passed away; as did Albert Stevenson. Chester Bounous replaced Willcutt on the board to serve with Cecil Wham, Edmund Kelley, and Clarence Beck.

In 1980, Doug Atkins and Charles May were elected to the board and in 1985 Darell Webber was elected.

In 1986, Clarence Beck obtained controlling interest and served as Chairman of Board for nine years. Gary Stevenson was elected to the board in 1986 along with Harold Stanton in 1993 and John Small in 1997. The bank President from 1990-1998 was Anthony Hertz.

Many have come and gone. The older giving way to the younger, but all-inall, the traditions and values established long ago have been passed down from generation to generation. With Montana drawing new residents by the hundreds, new businesses appeared to be opening daily.

Many, like Little Horn State Bank, sank their roots deep and contributed to the framework that shaped this community. These people and places stand out like beacons and serve as inspirations. People like our own late Esther Kehler (Rich). She was a longtime resident and a customer of the bank since its beginning. Before her passing, she wrote this poem to commemorate Little Horn State Bank’s 75th anniversary.

Wyola Bank

This bank that we all knew so well

Has a very interesting story to tell,

They have hired Jims by the score,

Jim Bolosky, Jim Deam, Jim Hanson, Jim McCoy,

We thought that’s all they would employ,

The president before them was a Mr. Al Sheets,

He knew how to bring them in, off the streets.

This little bank nestled in Wyola

Never heard of granola.

Another person who handled its money and

Brought about fame, Stella Endicott was her name.

She could do the business good as any fellow.

Her disposition was always sweet and mellow.

Now as years have passed by, we say,

A great celebration is in store today.

As this bank marks its 75th anniversary celebration!

We give it praise for this long duration.

This proves to all, a bank can be

A safe place and home for your money!!

Now as we celebrate our 100th anniversary we are proud to say we are still here and honor our customers, our most valuable assets. The next time you hear “We’re here to serve you” think about your local independent bank – Little Horn State Bank.

So, save August 16 to attend our 100th anniversary open house. More information will be coming your way soon.


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