It’s a party that has been 150 years in the making. On Saturday, September 2, 2017 Bradford National Bank will celebrate their 150th anniversary with a party on the main bank parking lot. The event will feature concerts, food, games, prizes and so much more.
Bradford National Bank president and CEO Doug Stroud said, “We are all looking forward to this celebration that will commemorate our 150th anniversary. We will have plenty of activities for young and old alike and we would like to invite all members of the community to come and celebrate with us.”
The bank has partnered with BoCo RunCo for The Color of Money Fun Run which begins at 8am. This 5K and one mile run/walk event will be colorful indeed, as numerous paint stations will be along the route and participants can choose to be doused with a fun dose of paint as they run by. 100% of all the proceeds will be donated to the Bond County Restore Network and the Bond County Food Pantry. Following the run, staff will convert the parking lot into a festival setting with the remaining festivities getting underway at 3pm and running until 10pm.
Festivities begin at 3pm with opening ceremonies on the main stage that will include a proclamation, check presentations, a brief history of the bank, release of balloons, and a special appearance by Fredbird®!
Performing on the Bradford National Bank Mainstage will be local favorites the Swampdaddies, featuring Swamp Weiss, followed by the Brother Jefferson Blues Band, led by Jeff Chapman.
Headlining the festivities will be Stone In Love, a St. Louis based Journey tribute band, who will entertain with a two hour show. The band was formed in 2007 and it didn’t take long for them to become one of the premier tribute acts in the Midwest. A performance by Stone In Love is an experience in which the audience taps into the great memories attached to the music of Journey. “This band annually plays at the Family Arena in St. Louis to audiences of 7,000 plus,” said Randy Alderman. “Stone In Love replicates the sound and experience of Journey and will delight all fans.”
Besides music, the event will feature many activities for the children including games, a bounce house, rock painting and more. Exhibits by Ag in the Classroom, local firefighters, and Our Common Ground will round out the event. The famous Money Machine will also make a return.
Food will be provided by the Comets Sports Boosters. Although there will be a fee, the food will be priced at a lower rate, with 100% of the proceeds being donated to the Sports Boosters. Ice cream will also be served at no charge.
Stroud added, “Our staff has been working on this celebration for well over a year. It will certainly be a day of celebration and we hope everyone is able to join in the fun.”
Bradford National Bank was founded in 1867 by James Bradford and his son, Samuel. The bank was founded as the banking house of Bradford and Son. While there are few records to attest to the fact, it is believed the bank was started with $10,000 in capital.
The bank was housed in a frame building on the east side of the Greenville square.
James Bradford came to Greenville from the East in 1824, when, as described by the Greenville Advocate, the area “was little more than a wilderness.” Described as a pioneer, he was a veteran of the Black Hawk War. While in Greenville, he served as the Circuit Clerk, County Clerk, County Commissioner, County Judge and was a member of the Illinois Legislature. He also holds the distinction of being elected in 1872 as the first mayor of Greenville. His portrait hangs in the lobby of the main bank in Greenville and in the council chambers in the Greenville City Hall.
James Bradford died on January 29, 1889. At that time, his son Samuel took over as president. It was a short run, however, as Samuel died on September 14, 1891.
John S. Bradford, who joined Bradford and Son’s in 1890 and was the son of Samuel, then became the head of the bank until his death in 1925.
It was during John’s tenure, however, that the bank received its national charter. Herman Riedemann, who served as a bank executive, was sent to the Salem National Bank to learn the procedures necessary to receive a national charter.
On May 2, 1910, Bradford and Son’s banking house officially became known as the Bradford National Bank.
Officers and directors at the time the bank received its national charter were: John S. Bradford, president; Joseph M. Daniels, vice president; and Herman Riedemann, cashier and secretary of the board. T.P. Morey, J. Seaman, F.P. Joy, C.E. Cook and J.V. Dixon were all listed as directors of the bank.
In the May 19, 1910 issue of the Greenville Advocate, a bold headline at the top of the page heading a story on the three new bank directors, proclaimed, “Three of the Directors of the New Bradford National Bank which has $100,000 Capital and $20,000 Surplus
Describing Mr. Morey, the Greenville Advocate said: “He is regarded as a shrewd businessman, who is always conservative in his dealings, and his connection with the new banking institution will lend strength to it. The new institution is fortunate in having Mr. Morey as one of its directors and advisors.”
In its biography of Mr. Seaman, the Greenville Advocate notes that he served two terms as Greenville mayor, and it was during his tenure that electric lights were installed in the city. The paper said, “Mr. Seaman’s energy and business acumen will be a valuable asset to the new National Bank.”
When Frank P. Joy joined the bank as a stockholder and director in 1910, he began a family interest and relationship with the bank that continues to this day. The Greenville Advocate said that Joy served as mayor of Greenville and founded F.P. Joy & Co. About Mr. Joy, the paper said, “His success in the mercantile business has been marked and his connection with the bank adds strength to its directorate.”
When the bank received its national charter in 1910, Bradford National Bank had assets totaling $2,224.50. Among the items included in the inventory were a safe valued at $1,625 (which is now located in the basement of the main bank), an adding machine valued at $275, two clocks valued at $10, two guns, including a muzzle loader, valued at $15, a revolver valued at $2, and office supplies valued at $558.44. At that time, the bank building was purchased from the Bradford family for $200 per running foot.
In 1911, the bank constructed a new building adjacent to the original facility at a cost of $12,570. The old building was then used as a barbershop, with bathing facilities, for a number of years before H. Rippy opened the Greenville Newstand at that location.
In 1933, a new front was added to the bank building which also covered the original bank structure. In 1958, the bank was remodeled once again and the bookkeeping department was located in what was the original bank building.
The late Selma Pierce, who was a longtime employee of the bank, recalled her experiences working in the new bank building. She said there was very little bank security at the time, so the new building included a shooting range in the basement. She said that all employees were required to take target practice with the bank’s guns. She also noted that the Greenville banks often looked after each other. During lunch hours, Bradford employees would watch out over the State Bank of Hoiles and Sons and visa versa.
This “old fashioned” security is further evidenced in a history of the Charlie Birger gang, a notorious outfit that ran Southern Illinois. Gang members robbed the Pocahontas bank. In the story that appeared on the front page of the Advocate, it was noted that John Bradford and others from Greenville banks went searching for the robbers when they found out about the robbery.
During the depression, many banks across the country failed. However, Bradford National Bank survived and even prospered during this time. In 1927, the bank’s total assets topped $1 million for the first time.
Following the death of John Bradford, his wife, Myrtle T. Bradford, was selected to serve out his term as president. The Greenville Advocate noted that, “Mrs. Bradford is probably the only lady in the state who has been elevated to the presidency of a bank.”
After her retirement, Nancy Rogers Bradford, widow to Samuel and mother to John, was selected by the board to serve as president where she served until her death. (See related story).
Upon the death of Nancy, in 1927, Walter Joy was elected president, thus ending the 60-year era of the Bradford family heading the bank.
One side note: Edgar Bradford served on the board of directors from 1925-1927. The last board meeting attended by any member of the Bradford family was July 13, 1927.
New Era—Riedemann & Joy
While he never held the title as bank president, Herman Riedemann played a significant role in the bank’s history. He joined the banking house of Bradford & Son in the early 1900s and was instrumental in the bank receiving its national charter.
Herman ran many of the day-to-day operations for John, Myrtle and Nancy Bradford during their tenures as president.
Walter A. Joy became a director of Bradford National Bank following the death of his father in 1916 and was named the bank’s president in 1927.
However, it was not until 1943 that Mr. Joy became active in the daily operations of the bank, following the death of Herman Riedemann, who handled those operations up until then.
It was during this time that the bank experienced significant financial growth. In 1950, the bank had total assets of $5 million and that number doubled by 1960.
In 1967, as the bank prepared to celebrate its centennial year, a new building was constructed at 100 E. College. The building was constructed on the corner of First Street and College Avenue and was the homestead of Samuel Bradford.
The new bank building was described as “efficiency and beauty combined in one package.” In an August 8, 1968 story, the Greenville Advocate said, “It is certainly one of the finest business buildings to have been erected in Greenville, a compliment to the community as well as to the progressiveness of the bank.”
In fact, the new “ultra modern” facility was featured in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in a cover story entitled “Offices with Personality.”
The new building featured the first drive-up facility in Greenville, and George Trost was the first customer. While only one lane, the drive-up was an instant hit in the community, and it wasn’t long thereafter that three additional lanes were added.
A highlight of the building was the new Bradford Community Room. This room, located in the basement, became a community favorite and was booked weeks and months in advance for community and family events.
Walter Joy retired in 1970, after 44 years as president and 50 years on the board of directors.
Walter’s son, Frank R. Joy Sr., joined the bank in 1933 and served as senior vice president and member of the board of directors for 53 years before his death. He was very active in the community and was one of the five original board members who founded Edward A. Utlaut Memorial Hospital.
Walter’s grandson, Frank R. Joy, Jr. served as bank president from 1993-2013 and was instrumental in the banks expansion into Madison County and the construction of The Bradford Community Building.
Roger Riedemann, son of Herman, was elected to serve as president of the bank earlier.
Roger joined the bank in 1933 and worked in many capacities at the bank. He was executive vice president for five years before being selected president.
In 1984, as the bank continued to grow, the main bank was expanded on the west side and the lobby was completely refurbished. Offices were added, and the bookkeeping department was relocated to the lower level. At this time, Bradford National Bank installed the community’s first automatic teller machine.
In 1989, Bradford National Bank built its first branch at 100 Bradford Drive – located at the entrance to the new Wolf Business Park on the east edge of town. It featured a full-service lobby, four drive-up lanes, and an ATM.
A July 10, 1990 editorial in the Greenville Advocate said, “The Bradford National Bank is attempting to stimulate local progress and put some meaning behind its slogan, ‘Your Home Owned Bank.’”
“Roger semi-retired in 1993, although he remained a daily fixture at the bank until his death in 2008. His son-in-law, Jim Keaster, served as senior vice president until his retirement in 2015, and his grandson, Jace Keaster, joined the bank in 2005 and is currently a member of the board of directors and serves as bank vice president.”
In 1993, Frank Joy was elected to serve as president of the bank. It was under his leadership that the bank experienced its “modern” growth and expansion. He joined the bank in 1970 and served in a variety of capacities over the years. A graduate of Millikin University, he is very active in community affairs and serves as Chairman of the bank’s board of directors.
In 1995, an Investment Center was added to the bank and is located at the Bradford branch on Idler Lane.
The Bradford Travel Club was founded in 1997 as a service to senior clients. Since then, members have traveled all over the United States and Canada.
In 1998, Bradford National Bank opened its first branch outside of Greenville in Marine, Illinois. This full-service facility featured a lobby, drive-up and ATM.
The following year, the bank topped $100 million in total assets for the first time in its history.
As the bank continued to grow in assets and total customers, it needed the space occupied by the Bradford Room. Wanting to continue to provide this service to the community, Bradford National Bank purchased a vacant building to the west of the bank, gutted the structure and built the Bradford Community Building. It officially opened in the Spring of 2000.
In 2001, the bank began extensive remodeling of the main bank lobby. The end result was an elegant, more user friendly facility.
In 2002, the bank began construction of a new branch facility in Highland. Operating out of a trailer for the first few months, the new facility officially opened in October of that year at 1100 Mercantile Drive. The new construction carried the same Williamsburg theme as the two sister banks in Greenville.
In 2004, the bank purchased the First Bank branch in Marine and consolidated the two locations into one at 102 N. Duncan.
That same year the bank expanded the main bank parking lot, replaced the old-drive up lanes and added a drive-up ATM.
In 2014, Doug Stroud was appointed as the ninth president of Bradford National Bank.
While the “computer age” officially began at the bank in the mid-1970s, recent years have seen an explosion in bank technology. In recent years, the bank has enhanced its online platform of products and services and today offers mobile banking as well.
The Bradford Travel Club was established 20 years ago by then president, Frank Joy. The club operated for 19 years under the direction of Judy Schneck, making hundreds of trips both at home and abroad. The Club has emerged as one of the premier travel clubs in the area, with great attention to details including meals, transportation, and accommodations. Today, the Club operates under the direction of Marlene File, who jumped right in planning many exciting trips for the banks’ clientele. Trips generally sell out fast, so those wishing to attend are always encouraged to register quickly.
Bradford National Bank is the 10th oldest bank in the state and the 157th oldest in the nation, and one of the few remaining locally owned financial institutions in the area, and none can boast 150 years of continuous service. With nearly $275 million in total assets, over 60 employees, four full-service locations, and six ATMs, Bradford National Bank is a vibrant bank, building on the traditions started back in 1867 and is looking to the future. It will continue the tradition of outstanding personal and community service, supporting hundreds of organizations each year in Greenville, Highland, Marine and points in between. It is their goal to provide new products and services as they emerge, in a safe and secure environment, in our ever-changing banking world.
For more information on the events of the day, visit the bank online at www.BradfordBank.com.
Myrtle T. Bradford – Pioneer in Banking
4th President of Bradford National Bank
Although few women became president of national banks at the turn of the century, Bradford National Bank has the distinction of having not one, but two women presidents.
One of those women, Myrtle Taylor Bradford was unanimously elected president of Braford National Bank in 1925 following the death of her husband, John Bradford, becoming the fourth president in the bank’s history.
She was born August 22, 1886 in Indianapolis, IN. A graduate of Harvard University, she taught art at the University of Indiana for ten years and then at the State College for Girls in Columbus, MS before settling down in Greenville with husband John Bradford.
Although she was only president for six months, The Greenville Advocate reported, “Mrs. Bradford is probably the only lady in the state who has been elevated to the presidency of a bank. In any event, the case is a rare one and this distinction comes to but few women the country over. Mrs. Bradford is a gifted woman in many lines. She is versatile and has good business judgement.”
At the time of her presidency, the government was issuing national bank notes, currency issued to a bank that had to be hand-cut out of sheets of paper (three ten’s and a twenty per sheet) and hand signed to make them legal tender. Myrtle has the distinction of being the first woman in the country to affix her signature to a national bank note.
Some years’ after her stint as president, Myrtle moved to Miami, Florida where she was prominently active in various arts and art-education activities for 30 years. In 1934, the La Revue Moderne, published by the Laureate Magazine Society National de France, classified Mrs. Bradford with world exhibition artists in the National Galleries, calling her, “A Lyric Artist.” In 1936 she wrote U-le-lah, Florida’s Pocahontas. That same year the Miami Women’s Club established the Myrtle Taylor Bradford Gold Medal Award to be presented annually at the Women’s Club’s, Artist and Writers Breakfast, to the artist, or writer, who is judged to have done outstanding work in the field for his community. Several of her paintings were also shown in Paris. Bradford created the Penny Art Fund in Florida, to secure traveling art exhibits for schools and clubs.
She passed away on December 10, 1958.