Category Archives: Banks

State Bank of Bussey (Lovilia, Iowa)

Residents of the Monroe County town of Lovilia were taken by surprise on June 30, 1976, when two men robbed the local branch of the State Bank of Bussey at gunpoint. The event was captured in detail in the Lovilia History Book published two years later:

One of the most exciting events to ever happen in Lovilia was a real live bank robbery in 1976. It was broad daylight, about 11:15 a.m. on June 30, 1976, when two men entered the Lovilia branch of the State Bank of Bussey. One man pulled a gun on bank manager Ed Beary, and the robbers took $1,400.

By the time the two robbers had fled and escaped through the wooded area behind the school. Sheriff and patrol cars, flashing lights, sirens and uniformed law officers soon appeared on the scene and a stunned crowd of people stood by.

The next 24 hour were filled with continued excitement. The search was underway for the culprits. Plane spotters were in the sky, falling over this area. Rumors were running wild and all possible connections were checked. Doors that previously had not been locked were secured that night; few people were on the streets after dark.

The book notes law enforcement officers arrested the two robbers in a barn near Marysville the following morning; the gun was found and money recovered.

Former Bank and Post Office 50608 (Austinville, Iowa)

The Austinville State Savings Bank was established in the unincorporated Butler County town of Austinville in 1911. In addition to surviving the Great Depression, the bank survived a number of robberies and attempted robberies. In 1922, over $2,000 was stolen from the safe while nitroglycerin was used in a similar robbery attempt in 1930. Another robbery occurred on February 17, 1940, when burglars cut through the bank’s 3,000-pound safe to steal $1,000. The last robbery was October 4, 1985, as a new security system was installed shortly after the incident.

After a series of acquisitions, the bank was converted to a branch of the Lincoln Savings Bank. When the Lincoln Savings Bank decided to close the Austinville office, community members met to discuss ways to preserve the historic building, related memorabilia, and the contract post office which shared space with the bank. The Austinville Historical Society was quickly formed and took control of the building. The post office branch continued to operate for more than a decade before its closure on June 2, 2011.

First National Bank (West Union, Iowa)

The First National Bank of West Union was organized in 1934, taking over the assets of the defunct Fayette County National Bank, which closed following a bank moratorium declared by President Roosevelt in 1933. First National Bank moved to its present facility in 1935. An additional drive-through location was constructed in West Union in 1966, while a branch office was opened in nearby St. Lucas in 1978. The bank celebrated its 75th year of operation in 2009; at that time, deposits totaled $90 million.

Gateway State Bank (Goose Lake, Iowa)

The Gateway State Bank began operating as Goose Lake State Bank in 1907 in the pictured brick and stone building. The Clinton County bank survived the depression, even expanding in 1936 when it absorbed a failed bank in nearby Charlotte. In 1980, the bank charter was moved to Clinton and renamed Gateway State Bank. While the bank has occupied several locations in Clinton, it has remained in its original office in Goose Lake for the entirety of its 100-plus-year history.

Former Gravity State Bank (Gravity, Iowa)

On July 1, 1930, patrons to the bank in the Taylor County community of Gravity were greeted by the following notice posted to the front door:

In view of the continued financial drain due largely to short crops of the last year of this community, the Board of Directors of this bank voted to close the same for the protection of the depositors and all concerned.

The Gravity Independent from July 3 notes no direct statements have been made by bank officials, though a meeting was held between the bank’s Board of Directors and Henry Erwin, a state bank examiner. The paper was “assured that the condition of the bank is better… than it was two years ago, and that the depositors will fare better… than they would have if the institution closed at that time.”

The Taylor County town wasn’t without a bank for long: In 1931, a bank of the then-Sharpsburg-based State Savings Bank opened a branch in the Gravity building. As Gravity’s population declined, bank operating hours were shortened before the Gravity office closed entirely in the 1990s.