The history of Citizens First National Bank
It was Feb. 23, 1865, when the First National Bank of Princeton was established. The bank’s president, B.S. Ferris of Princeton, and its shareholders organized with $75,000 of capital as business began on Princeton’s South Main Street. At the onset, there were 700 shares of stock and 27 shareholders.
B.S. Ferris served as president of First National Bank until 1874, when he sold his stock in the bank and started the Farmers National Bank of Princeton. At that time, D.H. Ferris (B.S. Ferris’ brother) became president and served until 1882, followed by D.H. Smith who was president until 1911. H.C. Roberts was appointed president in 1911 and held the position for 19 years. Roberts became the first president of the board of Citizens First National Bank, after the 1930 merger of First National Bank, Farmers National Bank, and a third bank — Citizens National Bank, which had originally opened in 1879 at 606 S. Main St., Princeton. That location is where Citizens First National Bank still stands today.
That merger came as a result of the events of the Great Depression, when the aforementioned three banks along with First State Bank of Princeton discussed merging as one. All but First State Bank agreed. On Jan. 1, 1930, the three banks — by unanimous votes from their boards and shareholders — became Citizens First National Bank with assets of $3,000,000 and capital of $150,000. The chairman of the board was H.C. Roberts; the president of the board was C.D. Tedrow; officers were Hugh Ferris, Martin Zearing, George F. Zearing and Dwight Miller.
During World War II, Citizens First National Bank flourished, doubling in size between 1941 and 1945. By 1944, the bank had total assets of $8.2 million, and the bank’s staff had grown to 18. C.D. Tedrow became chairman of the board and remained in that spot until his death in 1963, when George Zearing was elected chairman, succeeded by his brother, Robert I. Zearing, who took the position when George died in October of that same year. Robert Zearing served as president until 1976, when Gordon Sears was appointed. Robert Zearing continued to serve as chairman of the board.
From 1963 to 1982, the bank’s assets grew from nearly $17,000,000 to almost $154,000,000. When Robert Zearing retired from the board after 51 years of service, James P. Monier became the new chairman in 1985.
D.E. Van Ordstrand was appointed president of the bank in December 1982, when Gordon Sears retired. During Sears’ tenure, the bank’s assets grew from $77,631,000 in 1976 to $153,939,000.
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