Past, Present and Future at FIRST NATIONAL BANK
The banking history of Green Forest begins in the year 1901. In that year the Bank of Green Forest was established with W. L. Sneed serving as president of the institution.
Growing rapidly the Bank of Green Forest increased its capital to $20,000.00 from the initial $12,000.00. Within the first five years, a fine new bank had been built on the south side of the Green Forest square. A little success brings on competition and in 1906 the Farmers and Merchants Bank opened with capital stock of $25,000.00. In August of 1907, the Bank of Green Forest and the Farmers & Merchants Bank consolidated under the name of the Bank of Green Forest. In the meantime a movement to start a National Bank in Green Forest was begun by F.O. Butt of Eureka Springs. A lot was purchased on the northwest corner of the square for the purpose of erecting a building suitable to house this new institution. By July, 1913 the Treasury Department authorized the First National Bank of Green Forest to commence the business of banking. In September 1913 with M.V. Lightburn as President and F.O. Butt as Vice President, the First National Bank of Green Forest opened its doors. All was well until 1930.
On December 18, 1930, Ray Anderson stood in the back of a wagon as a spokesman for the Farmers and Merchants Bank and the First National Bank and told a large gathering of citizens of Green Forest that they could not draw any of their money out of either bank. He gave them his personal assurance that they would not loose any money and by cooperating, would help get the banks open sooner. The banks both closed as a choice of the directors to prevent the possibility of a run on the banks due to the closing of 12 nearby banks. Cash was understandably hard to come by since the banks were closed but Lum Anderson and his sons, Ray and Tom, knew an older man who did not believe in banks. This man and his wife lived out on Cisco road. The Andersons went to see the man and explained what they needed. He and his wife rolled back the rug to show rows and rows of money. He told Lum, “There it is, just take whatever you need.” They also went to the pantry and took rolls of money out of jars of dried beans and corn. The Andersons borrowed $5,000.00 and all three of them signed the note.
In order to cut through some of the red tape involved in reopening the Farmers and Merchants bank as soon as possible for the citizens of Green Forest, they reorganized and opened under the name of Citizens State Bank of Green Forest.
Reorganization of the First National Bank, which closed the same day as the Farmers and Merchants, was to take a little longer to open. Finally the comptroller of the currency granted a new charter to the First National Bank and it opened its doors May 4, 1931.
In January 1932, the two banks in Green Forest, the First National Bank and the Citizens State Bank consolidated into one bank, operating under the charter of the First National Bank and occupying the same building, which had been built and occupied by the original First National Bank. While both banks were in excellent condition, the merger created one stronger bank that could better serve Green Forest and the trade area. Their combined deposits were $246,107.20.
Lum Anderson served as president until 1942. Then his son Ray Anderson took over until 1978 and continued as Chairman of the Board until his death in 1979. Stephen E. Stafford, a great-nephew of Ray Anderson, became president upon Mr. Andersons retirement and has been president of the First National Bank since 1978.
Stephen Stafford's father, J. Frank Stafford and his uncle, Clyde L. Stafford, joined the bank as vice presidents in the 1940's and retired in 1986. They remained on the board of directors until their deaths.
First National Bank in Green Forest began an expansion program in 1982 to improve customer service in our surrounding areas. In that year an auto drive-thru bank was opened in Green Forest. By acquiring a branch of First Federal Savings Bank of Arkansas in 1991, we opened an office in Berryville. Moving eastward to Boone County in 1994, a Harrison office was established along with a Harrison South Office in 1997.
In September, 2003 our expansion continued into Madison County with the purchase of Madison Bank and Trust with offices in Kingston and Huntsville. First National Bank moved into Newton County in 2006 and then built a new building on the banks of the Little Buffalo River in Jasper in 2008. This office is one of the most unique bank buildings in Arkansas with a deck overlooking the river and a working fireplace in the lobby.
Early in 2013, construction began on a new office at our Harrison South location. It was designed to meet the needs of our ever growing customer base that we serve at that location. Modeled after our Jasper Office, the South location takes on a slightly more modern feel with the focus toward convenience and friendly customer service.
Our newest addition to our First National Bank family was made in June, 2013. We purchased the First Federal Bank-Berryville Branch which included the office building, deposit accounts and certain other assets associated with the Berryville office located at 210 South Main Street in Berryville, Arkansas. With two offices in Berryville we can provide greater convenience to our existing customers as well as our new customers from First Federal. First National Bank in Green Forest has approximately $390 million in assets and over 100 employees with nine locations serving Green Forest, Berryville, Harrison, Huntsville, Kingston and Jasper.
Since 1931, our goal has been to provide customers with what they want. We continue to offer a full line of financial services. From checking and savings accounts, to personal, farm, or business loans, we provide many different services for you, our customers. We offer 24-hour touchtone banking in English and Spanish along with our online internet, bill pay, account transfers and mobile banking services now available. One thing that will not change at First National Bank, putting YOU and YOUR banking needs FIRST.
We look forward to providing you with outstanding knowledge and service as we remain on the cutting edge of the banking industry.