Citizens Bank ad, 1890

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History of Freeland, Pa.

What's on this page:
  • Citizens and First National Banks
  • Ethnic banking services
  • 20th- and 21st-century banks
  • Banks listed in directories 1895-1940

The First National Bank of Freeland was organized in 1902 and was originally located on Front near Centre before relocating to what had been the De Pierro building on the southwest corner of Centre and Front streets. That De Pierro building was remodeled for the bank.

First National Bank First National Bank, facing south First National Bank First National Bank, matchbook ad First National Bank, matchbook ad First National Bank history

On January 30, 1890 the Citizens Bank of Freeland was incorporated with capital stock of $50,000. In 1912 Lodge No. 1145 B.P.O.E. bought the old Citizen’s Bank building on North Centre Street for a reported $8,500. The following year a new Citizen’s Bank was erected at a reported cost of $60,000.

Elks building was previously Citizens Bank building Citizens Bank Citizens Bank Citizens Bank staff Citizens Bank interior Citizens Bank president dies

Above: First location of Citizens Bank is what was later the Elks building. Two photos of the Citizens Bank building, occupied by later banks - the First Valley Bank photo and the next newspaper photo of Citizens Bank staff come from Ed Merrick [see further below in 20th-century section for source and names of staff]. The photo of the interior of the bank and the article about the deaths of three Freeland bank presidents in 1938-1939 were scanned at the YMCA and are here thanks to Tom Landers, Joe Flanagan and the Freeland History Society.

Citizens Bank kitchen ad Citizens Bank kitchen ad Citizens Bank paperweight
Citizens Bank advertising merchandise.

Citizens Bank check, 1898 Citizens Bank cash envelope Citizens Bank ad, 1890 Freeland Tribune
An 1898 Citizens Bank check, a cash envelope, and an ad from the Freeland Tribune in 1890 (also at top left of page).

History of Citizens Bank, from Ed Merrick:

History of Citizens Bank History of Citizens Bank History of Citizens Bank History of Citizens Bank History of Citizens Bank History of Citizens Bank

History of Citizens Bank History of Citizens Bank History of Citizens Bank History of Citizens Bank History of Citizens Bank History of Citizens Bank

And, during Labor Day weekend in 1967 Citizens Bank had an "instant" interior transformation, giving the bank a newer, contemporary look without losing any banking time. The board of directors wanted the original marble kept. Working around that mandate the artisans introduced new furnishings and design, an changed the working-counter areas to provide more lobby space.

Ethel Baum, a member of the American Institute of Designers, directed the blending of old and new. Ann Turri, a teacher at the Hazleton Art League, contributed a modern painting of sunset at the coal mines, which became the visual focal point of the bank. Her husband John was a local school teacher.

Recent exterior renovation made the columns look cleaner and the front of the bank was softly lit at night.

Ethnic banking services:

John Shigo (Cajko), a Slovak immigrant and prominent Freeland citizen, had a number of roles in town, including helping eastern European immigrants to arrange ship travel back to the old country, and serving as a bank on his own, exchanging foreign money for U.S. currency, helping immigrants send money back to family in Europe, and performing a number of other banking functions. Anthony Rudewick, a Polish immigrant and another prominent Freeland citizen, had a store in South Heberton and also served as a steamship travel agent and foreign money exchange, particularly for Polish immigrants.

From left: Detail of 1912 Sanborn map showing the location of Shigo's bank; two examples of his letterhead; a Shigo check and a money order; an 1895 Freeland directory ad for Anthony Rudewick's store and services.

1912 location of Shigo bank John Shigo stationery header John Shigo, letterhead Shigo check, 1924 Shigo money order

Anthony Rudewick ad, 1895

This is also very interesting. John Shigo published this ad in Slovak advertising his services to readers of one of the Slovak publications. In what may have been an effort to compete, the Citizens Bank did the same.

Shigo bank ad in Slovak Citizens Bank ad in Slovak

A rough translation of the Shigo Slovak ad:

Speed and security guaranteed.
John Shigo (Cajko)
Lansford, Pa. and Freeland, Pa.
I send money to the old country.
I buy tickets on all travel lines.
I exhibit and give consultations to confirm contracts, power of attorneys, etc.
In my position, I have been trained from Hungary and through that I do everything expeditiously.
We will even search for parts of a legacy (umarsciny).
I issue contracts for sale, I make contracts for positions.
I sell properties for auction.
I arrange the collection of money from the savings bank or from the orphan's case. Just whatever thing you have in the old county, I'll give you the best order.
Ask for advice on any matter.

A rough translation of the Citizens Bank Slovak ad:

Residual and retained earnings
All assets involved above

Paying 3 percent interest applied from deposit to withdrawal.
The money of P. S. Jednota is stored in this bank.

Deposit money in this bank. Here you will be served. People have over $900,000.00 deposited here, proving to have many supporters.  If you’re not one of them, consider this notice as if your bank was writing a letter to you, and become a depositor. You will be totally satisfied with their equipment and their service.

Officers: H. C. Koons, president; Thomas Birkbeck, vice president; Charles Dusheck, secretary; B. R. [F.?] Davis, cashier; A. Shigo, vice cashier.

20th- and 21st-century banks:

Bank of America, formerly Citizens Bank First National Bank, later PNC Bank, now closed [Thanks to Ed Merrick for additions and corrections.]

Citizen's Bank - Centre St., between Main & Front Streets (Organized 1890. Resources over $6,000,000. ('52 Minamek).) ("Join our Christmas Club." ('53 Minamek)) (later Bank of America, other banks)

First National Bank & Trust Co. - 710 Front St. (later PNC Bank)

Citizens Bank staff 1960s Citizens Bank bankbook mid-1950s From Ed Merrick: The staff at Citizens Bank, and his old bankbook from 1954-1957. He later wrote: "I just came across this photo from the Penny Saver. Francie Varilla, who worked for Citizens for many years, identified as many of the people as he could. The men, from left, are Bill Yannes, Emil Lang, John Wilson and Billy Fox. The only woman he could identify is Agnes Batcha, second from the right. He guesses the photo was taken in the late 1940s or the early 1950s."

Banks listed in directories 1889-1940:

Both Anthony Rudewick in 1895 and John Shigo in 1921 are listed as conducting foreign money exchange and as steamship ticket agents, performing these services for eastern European immigrants at least, and perhaps for others, too. [If anyone reading this knows more about these men and their services, I'd be grateful to learn more about them. -- CT]

1889 mercantile directory
In business listings:
There's this note, and no bank yet: "Pop. 2,500 - Banking town Hazleton"

1895 Freeland city directory
In business listings:
Citizens' Bank of Freeland - Joseph Birkbeck, President; Henry C. Koons, Vice President; Benjamin R. Davis, Cashier; 15 Front
Rudewick, Anthony, foreign money exchange, also steamship ticket agent, Birkbeck, South Heberton

1897 city directory
In business listings:
Citizens Bank of Freeland, N Centre near Front; B. R. Davis, cashier

1897 city directory
In individual listings:
Brittain, A. W., bank teller, Citizens Bank, 86 N Washington, h
Davis, B. R., cashier, Citizens Bank, Bank Bldg., h

1900-1901 city directory
In business listings:
Citizen's Bank of Freeland, Centre

1912 telephone directory
In general listings:
Citizens’ Bank of Freeland – 15 N Centre
First National Bank – Front

1917 telephone directory
In general listings:
Citizens' Bank of Freeland - N. Centre
First National Bank - 638 Centre

1921-1922 city directory
In business listings:
Brooks, J. H. & Co., investment securities, 1100 Markle Bank Bldg., Hazleton
Citizens Bank of Freeland Pa. – 620 Centre
First National Bank – Centre cor Front
Shigo, John, bank/banker, foreign exchange, also steamship agent, 322 Centre [labeled a bank on 1912 Sanborn map, where the earlier address number there for the same building is 185 Centre - CT]

1928-1929 city directory
In business listings:
Brooks, J. H. & Co., banker, 2d Floor, Markle Bank Bldg., Hazleton
Citizens Bank of Freeland, 620 Center
First National Bank, 638 Center

1940 city directory
In business listings:
Citizens Bank of Freeland, 620 Centre
First National Bank in Freeland, 638 Centre

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