A group of female employees poses during the celebration of Vinton County National Bank’s 100th anniversary in 1967. The bank pioneered employing females in the banking industry. (Submitted)

Vinton County National Bank Looks Back on a Historic 150 Years

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150 years ago banking was a very different business. Most people felt safer keeping their life savings in a mattress or under a creaky floorboard than with a group of people that they barely knew.

Enter Daniel Will, a business man in 1867 McArthur, OH, a little town nestled in the rolling hills of Appalachia. Will was well-regarded throughout his community, and when he started the Vinton County National Bank some 150 years ago, a remarkable number of folks began trusting Will and his associates with their money even more than their personal hidey-hole.

A portrait of Vinton County Bank founder Dan Will later in his life. (Submitted)
A portrait of Vinton County National Bank founder Dan Will later in his life. (Submitted)

“Will was a very trusted and respected man throughout the community, and he was a self-made man, too,” said Audra Johnson, the executive vice president of marketing for Vinton County National Bank. “This was before there was FDIC insurance, so people really had to trust a bank. He founded the bank on that principal.”

Will was notoriously hard-working and passionate about banking, going so far as to pass away within one of his banks, which, as Johnson explained, was exactly what he wanted.

“He never wanted to retire, he wanted to work at (Vinton County National Bank) until he passed away,” said Johnson, who noted that Will’s family members have continued to be heavily involved with the running of the bank, which now has 16 branches.

The Vinton County National Bank has an interesting past in even more than its longstanding reputation for trustworthiness.

In fact, in the mid-20s, the bank hired a woman, long before women were considered capable of working such occupations. The woman, Belle Jenkins, was well known throughout McArthur for her smarts and general savviness, and was personally approached by the president of the bank, Aaron Will, to take on a position at the bank.

“She went up through the ranks, and eventually became a vice president and a board member,” said Johnson of Jenkins. “She really paved the way for many women in the banking industry. Now a little over 50 percent of our staff, overall, is female.”

Belle Jenkins, the first woman ever employed by the winton County Bank in the mid-20s. (Submitted)
Belle Jenkins, the first woman ever employed by the Vinton County National Bank in the mid-20s. (Submitted)

Throughout the year, Vinton County National Bank will be celebrating their milestone year with a variety of events, most of them taking place around the Fourth of July. Over the weekend of June 30 through July 2, the bank will be having a particularly interesting celebration in McArthur with their truly historic recreation of mid-1800s baseball games – complete with wool uniforms and no mitts.

For a complete list of upcoming events, visit this link.

A photo of the Vinton County Bank's re-done lobby circa 1925. (Submitted)
A photo of the Vinton County National Bank’s re-done lobby circa 1925. (Submitted)