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A growing, prospering sound community is necessary to give life and opportunity to the functions of a modern bank. Still no community could long grow or even endure without the aid of an institution to fulfill its financial needs. The interests of cities and banks are closely intertwined, each interdependent on the other…each building the other.
But what builds them both?
Some people may think that Vinita was born back in the fall of 1869 when surveyors of the MK&T railroad used chains lengths and their own observations to decide that this was the perfect spot for a station. Others think it was when the Atlantic & Pacific railroad abandoned the original survey and decided to cross the Katy where Vinita is located now.
Both are wrong.
Vinita, in Northeast Oklahoma, was born when the surveyors and railroad workers left and a serious-minded group of settlers arrived. Looking out at the rolling prairie and clear tree-lined streams; a vision of paved streets, brick buildings, and homes to be proud of came about. PEOPLE, good, honest, industrious, home loving people, that’s what built Vinita.
First National Bank?? Some people think First National was born in the lobby of The Cobb Hotel back in 1891 with Dr Oliver Bagby, E N Ratcliff and several more of “the boys” gathered around visiting, when someone said “Hey, Vinita is getting big enough for a bank”. Others date the birth of the bank to the day that President Benjamin Harrison signed the bank’s charter.
Both are wrong.
On the morning of March 15th, 1892 Sam Leforce rides into town on his cow pony, right up to the corner of the Cobb Hotel. He wheels around and says “I understand you boys are starting a bank”. “That’s right” was the answer “she’s opening this morning”. “What I heard” says Sam, “I’m here to be your first depositor”. Marble, monster vaults, officers, money… they don’t make a bank. It takes customers, depositors, borrowers, & loyal friends to build a bank.
There’s a reason First National is the oldest bank in the state. There’s a reason why Vinita has maintained a level of prosperity with the railroad’s influence waning, businesses coming and going, and with rural America going suburban. It’s PEOPLE, people that had the foresight to start with a strong foundation in building a city. People that have persevered in the ebbs and flows of life. People that even today work to make Vinita a better place to live. People that First National Bank is proud to call customers.