The American National Bank was organized with Lou Cardin as its Chairman and president in 1917. Chartered as the third bank in Baxter Springs and capitalized for $50,000.00, the company was composed of R.I. Walker, W.T. Apple, L.L. Cardin, Dr. Boswell and others. The Bank purchased property at the corner of Military & River Streets (River is now 12th) and constructed a 50 foot 2 story building.
On October 25, 1917 the Baxter Springs News carried a story of the upcoming opening of the bank with the following information "indications are that on November 10th the American National Bank of this city will open its doors for business in its new quarters in one of the best buildings in the city of Baxter Springs." The story continues by describing the building "the first floor of the building consists of the banking room, a store and an office room. The office room will be occupied by the Western Union Telegraph Company." The article concludes with the following "even though the bank is not in a position to sell the second issue of the Liberty Bonds through an advertisement in today's issue of The News, it points out to the people the advantage and patriotism in buying Liberty Bonds."
Two years later the bank again made news when a robbery occurred regarding a customer of the bank. The Baxter Daily Citizen reported the events on Saturday October 4, 1919 as follows. "Cashier Traylor, of the Treece State Bank was held up and robbed of $3500.00 two and one-half miles west of Baxter Springs this morning at 9:30. Mr. Traylor, who lives in Baxter Springs and drives to the Treece bank every morning, took his wife and daughter this morning and went by the American National Bank to get some money for the bank at Treece. He was detained at the bank on account of money addressed to the American National Bank being detained in the mail, and as soon as he got his money he left Baxter driving towards Blue Mound. As he was about a mile and half east of Blue Mound a Ford Car passed him, carrying four young men wearing unionalls." The story continues that the three drew their guns, took the money, and left after disabling his car. "He then drove to Baxter Springs as rapidly as he could on the three cylinders that were left working and notified the police." Two Posses left in search of the criminals one headed by City Marshall Henry Horton and one by Constable Gene Turner. The robbers were not caught.
Eddie Whitaker was working as a bookkeeper at the American National Bank on September 6, 1933 when three men entered through the front door. One approached teller John Conrad, pointing a gun at him through the service window and announcing a hold up. At the same time two other men went into the back room of the bank, circled in behind the cages, forcing the bank janitor ahead of them. The Janitor, Mr. Goodner, called out to Whitaker and alerted him that a robbery was in progress.
Two of the men had a pillow case, which they filled with all the silver and currency that was out of the time safe, nearly $3000. Bank employee, Elsie Bland, had been out to lunch, but upon returning saw what was transpiring through the front door window. Realizing that something was terribly wrong, she ran across the street to Karbe's Store and told Mr. Jobe Stevens that the bank was being robbed. They called the police, only to discover that all local officers were out of town for the day. After the robbery, it was realized that the men were the notorious Wilber Underhill gang, well know for robbing banks in the early thirties. A vigilante group was formed by Baxter Springs citizens, and a search made for the perpetrators. However, the men eluded capture disappearing down Fifth Street. Less than two weeks later, at a hold-up in Galena at the First National Bank, two of the men were apprehended and sentenced to 20 years in Lansing State Penitentiary. Underhill was later killed at Sapulpa, Okla."
In 1938, Mr. Cardin President of American National Bank died. Mrs. Jessie Cardin, his widow, became the Chairman of the Board and President.
In 1952, the American National Bank and Baxter National Bank merged in the building at 12th and Military. Arthur Hoyt, the President of Baxter National Bank, joined the new bank as its Senior Vice President.
In 1946 Walter C. Hartley joined the bank as its President and was elected Chairman of the Board in 1964 upon the death of Mrs. Jessie (Cardin) Hunt.
After the death of Walter Hartley in 1972, A.F. Leonhard became President of the bank and W.C. (Dub) Hartley became Chairman of the Board.
1976 - 2003
In 1976, the 2 story brick building first built in 1917 came down "brick by brick" completely removing the structure to replace it with the one-story building on the site today. Art Leonhard oversaw the construction and grand re-opening in 1977 and was President until his death in 1982. Lynn Hartley was then made President of the Bank followed by Ron Wadley. In 1987 Marc Wolin was appointed President. During his tenure, the bank once again expanded by adding the drive in lanes to the South, acquiring the remaining block, and adding the mural on the south facade of the building. In 1999 and 2003 the bank expanded it's Cherokee County services by adding branches in both Columbus, KS and Galena, KS. Currently, Lynn Mitchelson serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors; Taylor Hight, President and CEO, Jim Gaither, EVP Commercial Lending; and Kayleen French, VP Cashier.
Since 1917 American Bank has been an important part of the Cherokee County community. With more than $100 Million in assets and branches in the three largest towns in Cherokee County, American Bank continues to be Customer Oriented and Community Involved.