The year of the beginning was 1906. With the vision of forming a bank to serve this farming and ranching area 14 men applied for a charter as a state bank with capital stock of $25,000. The original stockholders read as follows: R.L. Ellison, H.C. Wells, E.A Wells, C.A. Gray, L.H. Stall, J.W. Wells, A.W. Blain, L.W. Gribble, J.B. Burtner, K.M. Godfrey, John Williamson, Chas, Drake, S.A. Street, and Ed R. Wallace. These original stockholders represented many callings. All were landowners. Among them were farmers, ranchers, general merchants, grocers, hardware men, a druggist, a real estate agent, a doctor, a preacher, a ginner, a former teacher, and a former sheriff.
The first change of importance in the bank’s history came on December 18, 1909, when the stockholders voted to increase the capital stock from $25,000 to $50,000. L. W. Gribble was president. Directors were H.C. Wells, E.A. Wells, Alice Henard, L. W. Gribble, and W.Y. Seale.
At this time, M.W. Deavenport, grocer, ginner and financier, bought controlling interest in the bank with the purchase of 150 of the 250 shares of stock. With his purchase of stock, the number of stockholders had declined to nine and the names of D.D. McDowell, C.C. Terry, J.S. Richards, and Carrie Henard appear as stockholders for the first time.
Wellington State Bank was first located in a stone building on the west side of the square. It was moved to the northeast corner of the square where a new two-story hotel building had been completed with the bank quarters being located in the same building. This continued to be the home of the bank for 47 years until it was merged with the First National Bank of Wellington. Major Deavenport was president of the bank when it moved to the new quarters. Other officers listed on the old cornerstone, which is still preserved in the drive-in part of the building, were L.W. Gribble, vice president; E.A. Wells, vice president; and H.C. Wells, cashier. Major Deavenport died in 1911 and his stock went to his daughter Mrs. J.M. Strong.
Following the death of H.C. Wells in 1918, A.W. Blain was elected president and the name of P.E. Starr appeared as a director. A.W. Blain was still the president when A.Y. Bell became the executive officer in the early twenties. Directors listed at this time were A. W. Blain, F.H. Royal, D.D. McDowell, L.E. Gribble, C.C. Terry, and E.W. Blain. These continued to be directors for two decades with occasional changes such as Pink Sullivan, John Henard, and D’Arcy (Dee) McDowell.
The administrative history of Wellington Sate Bank may be divided roughly into about eight administrative periods. The first of these was that of H.C. Wells who was the executive officer of the bank from the time of its founding in 1906 until his death in 1918.
The second was that of A.Y. Bell who was active vice president through the prosperous twenties and kept the bank strong and functioning at full service during the depression and the dust bowl days of thirties.
The third administrative cycle was that of L.A. Manzer, under the presidency of D.D. McDowell. During World War II, the bank not only financed the farmers and stockmen of the area, but also the institution underwrote the huge caravans of combines and trucks that traveled from central Texas in June into the Dakotas and Canada in the late summer. The large loans on land and cattle were subject to the approval of D.D. McDowell. Records reflect that L.A. Manzer also served the bank as president and resigned that position in November 1951. When Mr. Manzer left the bank, A.Y. Bell was elected president and he was serving when C.T. Hubbard came to Wellington in August of 1954 as executive Vice president. Mr. Bell resigned in September 1954 and E.W. Blain was elected president.
The fourth administrative period was that of C.T. Hubbard. Two major advancements were made under his leadership. The first of these was Wellington State Bank buying the building, equipment, and assets of the First National Bank. The two oldest banks in the county were merged on May 16, 1958 and the bank was moved to the First National Bank building on the southeast corner of the square. Directors at this time were James Sullivan, C.T. Hubbard, John Henard, J.M. Orr, E.W. Blain, Dee McDowell, and Lewis Morris. Following the death of E.W. Blain in 1960, Luther Gribble was placed on the board and elected President. John Holton was approved as a director in October 1960 and when a vacancy occurred by John Henard’s resignation, Mr. Hubbard continued as executive officer. Mr. Gribble died in 1964 and Mr. Hubbard was elected president. The second important step forward under the direction of C.T. Hubbard was the decision to build a larger and more modern bank building. The building of the Hotel Wellington which was also the bank site at the time of the merger was purchased and razed. A magnificent building of Spanish design was erected and the Wellington State Bank moved to its new headquarters on April 17, 1971. This marked one of the major steps forward in the history of Collingsworth County. Directors were James Sullivan, Dee McDowell, John Holton, J.M. Orr, Lewis Morris, E.M. Hunter, and C. T. Hubbard. The vacancies which were created by the death of Mr(s). Morris and McDowell were filled by Fred Cox and John McDowell.
The fifth administrative period began in the mid- seventies when financial institutions were being flooded with changes. Regulations from the Federal Reserve and State Banking Department created change in every department of the bank. It became apparent that it was necessary to begin the ground work for converting the bank’s manual operation to a computer system. Customers became numbers. Every bank account had to have a different number. There would be no more free counter checks. Customers would purchase their own personalized checks bearing their account number. Banks were buying their deposits by issuing Certificates of Deposits to their customers. The eighties brought interest to checking accounts. Interest on notes climbed as the bank was forced to pay higher interest on certificates. Service charges which the bank had never imposed on its customers were now being applied.
Mr. Hubbard was looking forward to retirement and Bill Beall of Duncanville joined the bank in 1976 as a director and vice president. He was elected president in 1977 and Mr. Hubbard remained as President Emeritus until he retired in August 1978 after 24 years of service to the bank and community.
Bill Beall resigned in October 1981 and accepted a position with Western National Bank in Amarillo. Billy F. Moseley, who had been with Wellington State as executive vice president and director since March 1978, was elected president in November 1981.
Negotiations were being made by the directors to sell the bank and it was on February 15, 1983 when 90% of the outstanding stock was sold to Mike Stinson of Ft. Worth and O.L. Cooper. This was the sixth administration period. Mr. Cooper moved from Memphis to Wellington, became president when Billy Moseley resigned in November 1982. The existing board of directors resigned and the new directors elected were O.L. Cooper, chairman; Mike Stinson, Jack Neeley, Walter Clements III, and Jimmy Parker of Stamford. The sale of the bank reduced the shareholders from 60 to 13.
In June 1983, the seventh phase began when an agreement was signed to merge with Independent Bank Shares, Inc., of Abilene. Sydney E. Niblo and Brad Stephens of Abilene were elected to the board when Jimmy Parker resigned in February of 1984. Upon meeting all requirements, approval was given by the Federal Reserve Board and the State Banking Department on June 29, 1984, the Wellington State Bank became the eighth bank in the holding company with First State Bank of Abilene as the lead Bank. During IBSI ownership, O.L. Cooper (Nov.1982-Sept. 1985) and Ted Jordan (Sept. 1985-Feb. 1987) served as presidents. Local businessman Harley (Bill) Hatch and farmer Benson Long were added to the board in the fall of 1985. Mark keys became president in March 1987.
December 7, 1990 the eighth administrative phase began as a group of 25 local shareholders purchased Wellington State Bank from IBSI. Mr. Keys remained as president and Richard Sims was made chairman of the board. The shareholders’ objectives were to get the bank back into small hometown banking philosophies. Their desires blossomed with Mr. Keys, Mr. Sims, Jack Neeley, Cashier, John Holton, Sr., John Holton, Jr., Dannie Morris and Cal Wischkaemper serving as directors. At the time of acquisition, the bank had $3,023,000 in capital and total assets of $38,968,883. With the vision for diversity and growth during this continual changing banking climate, the bank sought out potential acquisitions. September 29, 1994, Wellington State Bank ventured into new ground by acquiring First National Bank of Wheeler.
The ninth administrative phase began in January 1996 with the election of Richard Sims as president and John Holton Jr. as chairman. The other three directors serving were Mr. Holton, Sr., Mr. Neeley, and Mr. Morris. The diversity by expansion philosophy started under Mr. Sims as chairman continued under his presidency. January saw the acquisition of the Bank of America Childress and Memphis locations. December 2, 1996, the bank opened a Loan Production Office in Canadian. On February 24, 1997, the LPO was converted to a full-service branch. March of 1999 saw the addition of Forrest Lloyd, Danny Martin, and Richard Fourmentin to the Board of Directors.
The 21st Century brought new technology to the institution with new banking medians such as debit cards, mobile banking, internet banking, automatic teller machines, and imaged bank statements. The Canadian Banking Center moved into a new building February 2006 and Childress Banking Center moved into a new building July 2010.
An LPO was opened in Bowie Texas January 2012 and converted to full service April 2013. This move allowed us to get into our first really population growth market. It was our first move based upon that goal and even though it was three hours away, the loans were primarily agriculture related leaning towards the livestock sector. Due to our success in the market, October 2014 WSB purchased the Ozona National Bank location in Bowie and moved into that location. The acquisition basically doubled our presents in that market area.
In October of 2015, the bank agreed to a merger with Security State Bank of Littlefield. This acquisition took WSB into the Rolling Plains area for the first time with locations in Littlefield, Olton, and Lubbock. The Lubbock market opened potential in an area with more population base than rest of the bank combined. The merger grew the loan portfolio in all areas and diversified it into more commercial and commercial real estate than the bank had held in the past. This diversity help the risk profile of the bank shift more from mainly agriculture. SSB held assets of approximately $115 million, loans of $80 million, and deposits of $95. At the merger date, Wellington State Bank was $260 million in assets, with $133 million in loans, and deposits of $233 million. Wellington State Bank would be the surviving entity. The holding companies merged as of the close of business December 31, 2015. WSB Bancshares, Inc., the holding company of Wellington State Bank, owned both banks until the conversion date of February 20th, 2016. At that time, they became Wellington State Bank with locations in Bowie, Canadian, Childress, Littlefield, Lubbock, Memphis, Olton, Wellington, and Wheeler. The new combined bank held approximately $375 million in assets, loans of roughly $215 million, and deposits of $328 as of the conversion date. Troy Don Alcorn, a farmer-rancher from Olton and Robert Montgomery, President of Muleshoe State Bank were added to the board of directors after servicing numerous years on the board of SSB.
October of 2016 saw the acquisition of First National Bank in Dalhart. This acquisition brought WSB into the far northwest corner of the Panhandle and into another larger community. The lending there was primarily agricultural but was more corn, dairy, and hog production. Again, a diversification from the current loan portfolio. FNB would add assets of $68 million with loans of $35 million, and deposits of $62 million. Scot Renick and Phillip Davis, both involved in long term senior management positions of FNB were added to the board from Dalhart after the merger occurred taking the places of Alcorn and Finney.
2019 saw the start of several changes for WSB. First , several new innovative technologies were added operationally benefiting both customers and employees. Next, Scott Renick retired from the bank and the board. Jeff Lloyd, Chief Credit Officer of the bank was added filling that position. Along the same time, discussions began with several banks about WSB possibly acquiring them. In June, it was announced WSB would be acquiring First National Bank of Paducah. Paducah had full-service offices located in Paducah and Stephenville. Paducah also had a credit administration office in Canyon and a loan production office in Granbury. With the desire of WSB to acquire more growth population base communities this became an ideal opportunity. Canyon and Granbury were switched to full-service locations immediately. Closing occurred on November 8, 2019, and FNB would add assets of $48 million with loans of $29 million, and deposits of $43 million.
The current ownership group celebrates twenty-nine years of ownership on December 7th, 2019. On January 6, 2020, one hundred and fourteen years will have passed since the bank was formed by the vision of fourteen men wanting to serve the people of this farming and ranching area. Today, those same visions are the backbone of our institution with over 120 employees serving you, our customers, at convenient locations across Texas. The board, officers, and employees thank the citizens of the areas we serve for their business. If you are not a customer, what are you waiting for, come meet the friendly people at WSB and let our service win you over. Looking toward the future, Wellington State Bank will continue working as our founders did…..serving our customers and communities while making a good bank better.
This background was rather lengthy, but it gives honor to those who have helped build this fine institution. To better serve today it is important to know from which we have come. Remember, the initial shareholders’ vision was to have a bank serving the farming and ranching area. Today the area has expanded due to the ease of transportation and the advancements in technology, but the goal remains the same….. to serve the customers, the communities, and the areas in which we live and reside. Be their “PARTNERS IN PROGRESS.”