In 1906, Lake Village earned a 4-column spread on the front page of Section Seven of the Pine Bluff Daily Graphic describing its growth from 1856 from fewer than 200 inhabitants until the Iron Mountain railroad in 1897 boosted growth for the village. The Iron Mountain ran from St. Louis, MO to Texarkana, and operated in Missouri and Arkansas in the late 1800s and early 1900s. When they developed the M., H., and L. line (Memphis, Helena and Louisiana), it connected Memphis via Helena and Lake Village through to New Orleans and “development received an additional impetus” (p. 55). That boosted the population to a thousand and growing.
According to the Daily Graphic, in 1906, there were:
- 17 stores, including City Drug store, Rosenzweig Dry Goods, Gurdin Dry Goods, and Gaines Hardware)
- 2 banks (Chicot Bank and Bank of Lake Village)
- 2-story brick school house
- Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Catholic churches
- new courthouse
- Arkansas and Texas Consolidated Ice and Coal company
- The Chicot Life and the Chicot Spectator newspapers
- Rankin Opera House
- Chicot Commission Company
- railroad depot
- post office
When the two banks merged a year later in 1907, that meant one bank, albeit much larger and with greater capital. By 1912, two banks showed on the Sanborn map. We know the consolidated Chicot Bank and Trust Company was occupying the 2-story building on the corner of Main (aka Wheat) and B street, so what bank is now in the old Chicot Bank building?
Most likely, the Citizens State Bank, organized in June 1910 (Daily Arkansas Democrat, June 14, 1910, p. 5). F. C. Holland traveled to Lake Village to purchase a building, to be remodeled and occupied by the new Lake Village bank (Pine Bluff Daily Graphic, June 24, 1910, p. 5).
By the time of the 1917 Sanborn map of Lake Village, the 117 Main bank building was labeled as an office, with office in rear. Chicot Bank and Trust had acquired the Citizens State Bank in December 1915. In 1918, the Daily Arkansas Gazette reported the Chicot County Red Cross Chapter had opened new headquarters in the Chicot Bank and Trust Company building (Jan 12, 1918, p. 2).
In July 1919, the Chicot Bank and Trust Company announced they would construct a new building.
CHICOT BANK PLANS NEW HOME
The Chicot Bank and Turst Company of Lake Village has decided to erect the finest banking institution in this section of Arkansas. The present building was sold last year and a new location recently purchased.
It is contemplated to erect a one-story building, with mezzanine floor, ample lobby facilities with a view to adequate light and air. The new location is southwest of the courthouse square, at the intersection of the Arkansas and Louisiana highway and Main or Depot street. The building will be approximately 50 feet by 70 feet and will cost approximately $60,000.Arkansas Democrat, 08 Jul 1919, p. 2.
The contract for the construction of the new building was awarded in October, 1919, and new vaults were ordered. That same month, the bank was the first in Chicot county to exceed the million dollar mark on resources.
The exact location was not specified, but southwest of the courthouse square would be in the 200 block of Main, and the intersection of Main and the Arkansas-Louisiana highway would be at the 100 block of Main and Lakeshore. It is possible it was constructed in the 100 block, or possible it was constructed where the current Bank of Lake Village is located at 201 Main. Both 100 and 200 Main showed vacant lots on both blocks in 1917. The buildings on the south side of 100 block of Main do not have dates of construction that correspond with the 1919/1920 construction date of Chicot Bank and Trust. They were constructed either before 1919 or after 1925. The buildings on the south side of 200 Main were also built after 1927.
In 1924, a Circuit Court jury ruled in favor of the Chicot Bank and Trust of Lake Village against a suit brought by William MacDonald and George Griffiths, the contractors who built the 1919 bank building. The William MacDonald Construction Company, out of St. Louis, MO sought to collect a balance of $3171.54 on the $47,541 building. Chicot filed counter claim for $20,000 damages, alleging the walls of the bank cracked due to poor workmanship. They asserted the foundation footings did not bear the weight of the building and some supports were improperly fastened. MacDonald stated they put up the building according to plans and specifications from the architect, but the architect had failed to “get the center of gravity exactly in the middle of the structure” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Apr 20, 1924, p. 73). The Chicot Bank and Trust was awarded $4529, and the plaintiffs were not allowed any portion of the claim.
After this is where it gets murky for the Chicot Bank and Trust. They disappear from the newspaper archives that I can locate. Factors that may (or may not) be relevant are the establishment of the First National Bank of Lake Village–that story is coming next.
The 1927 Mississippi River flood may have impacted the Chicot Bank and Trust, as it devastated Lake Village and most of the downtown area, including where the banks were located. Much of Main street was underwater.
The Courier News reported the Chicot Trust Co. closed its doors Nov 17, 1930 (p. 1). The Camden-News reported Jan 22, 1935 on a story challenging the sale (in November 1934) of the “old Chicot Trust Company Building and fixtures in Lake Village” (p. 5). The state bank department of Arkansas reported that the Chicot Bank and Trust Co. was reorganized into the Chicot Trust Company in 1927. The 1927 flood and damage to buildings on Main Street could have played a role, and the Great Depression surely did so.
I will do one last post on banking in Lake Village to try to sort out the story of what happened and when.