National Bank of Chester

When I was without power a while back, I used the daylight hours to sort and catalogue letters and documents in my collection. Doing so, I discovered a large number of cancelled checks. All are from two individuals.

One group of checks is signed by J. F. Alexander of Saxtons River and date to 1899. The other checks are signed by C. B. Sprague of Weston and date to 1906. Below is information from the 1899 Vermont Tribune supplement.

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1,000 National Bank of Chester check signed J.F. Alexander. Photo provided.

National Bank of Chester

“This bank was organized in July, 1890, with a capital stock of $50,000. F.P. Mather was elected president and B.A. Park cashier, and still hold those positions.

  “In August, 1891, one year after organization, the deposits amounted to $43,000; the deposits have now increased to $75,000 and there has been a steady increase in the business transacted. The bank has accumulated a surplus and profits amounting to 13 per cent of the capital stock, and has a large of cash on hand awaiting investment. Mr. F.P. Mather, the president, is a dentist by profession, and a conservative and public spirited citizen.

  “He was a veteran of the Civil War, is a trustee of the public library and has been a member of both houses of the legislature.

  “Mr. B.A. Park is an old time merchant, a retired capitalist and prominent member of the Baptist church.

  “The other directors are E.X. Pierce, a retired farmer and capitalist; Sam Adams, a cattle dealer; E.L. Walker, insurance agent, Bellows Falls; Geo Sheldon, a retired businessman of Rutland; G.H. Perry, a retired farmer, and F.W. Pierce.

  “It has been the policy of the bank to accommodate its patrons by extending to them every reasonable courtesy in the way of financial assistance, and it has given to the country the benefit of banking facilities.”

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National Bank of Chester check signed by C.B. Sprague of Weston. Photo provided.

  John F. Alexander

Alexander’s checks begin with check #2 and end with #31 and date from May 19, 1889 to July 6.

John F. Alexander was born in Chesterfield, N.H. His parents moved to Brattleboro and then to Bellows Falls. In 1860, Alexander moved to Saxtons River.

In 1866 J. F. Alexander bought out Mr. Holt’s share of Farnsworth & Holt, a woolen company in Saxtons River. The company became Farnsworth & Alexander. Alexander was a very prosperous and influential man in the area.

F.B. Mather

F. B. Mather (Frederick) enlisted in the Civil War from Windsor, his residence at the time. He mustered into Company A of the 12th Regiment of Vermont Volunteers on Aug. 4, 1862. He saw action at Fairfax Court House, Virginia on Dec. 28, 1862. Companies B & G saw action at Gettysburg in July of 1863. Mather’s Company A did not take part in Gettysburg. He was a respected dentist in Chester.

Sam Adams

Sam Adams was a cattle dealer in Chester and lived at the former “Park Light B&B.”

F.W. Pierce

F.W. Pierce was born in Londonderry in 1856 and educated in local schools. For 25 years he ran the Chester Drug Store and became rather prosperous. Not only was he a director of the National Bank of Chester, but he was instrumental in establishing the Chester Savings Bank in 1892.

National Banks

National Banks were first established in 1863. National Banks such as the National Bank of Chester were granted a 20-year charter. It was under this charter that banks could print their own paper currency. Actually they overprinted their bank name over paper notes they received from the treasury. There was a large capital letter such as, ‘D’, which denotes the region of the country. Another item printed on National Note currency is a four-digit number. As a rule, at least as far as collectors are concerned, the lower the number, the more desirable the note.

All National Bank notes will have the name of the bank across the front of the note. An example would be, “National Bank of Chester.” I have a $10 “National Bank of Bellows Falls” note in my collection. I have never seen a Chester Bank note. These notes are hard to come by.

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National Bank of Chester $10 note. Signed by F.P. Mather and B.A. Park, both mentioned in this article. Photo provided.

The National Bank of Chester was located in the old Fullerton Inn that would become the Chester Inn. The photo of the $10 National Bank of Chester note I found online. The checks pictured with this article are in my collection.

One question I have is did Chester have a bank prior to 1890? If so, where and when?

  This week’s old saying is from Henny Youngman. “If at first you don’t succeed…so much for skydiving.”

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