Texas Heritage Bank (THB) has its roots in the Bank of Cross Plains, TX, (approximately 45 miles southeast of Abilene) which opened for business shortly after the turn of the twentieth century. Other predecessors in THB’s ancestry include the Guaranty State Bank and the First State Bank. THB is a re-organization of First State Bank which received its charter in October 1931 during the Great Depression. The bank weathered the most severe financial panic in the history of the world, and no depositor lost a dollar.
THB opened for business at the southwest corner of Main and 8th Streets in Cross Plains on November 1, 1931, with R.C. Duringer as cashier. In those days, the title of cashier was worn by Chief Executive Officers of rural banks. Duringer was not a director, however, and attended board meetings only in a secretarial capacity. It was not until several years later that anyone working in the bank was given directorial status.
It was the custom of that time to choose from stockholders someone to act as president and chairman of the board. Elmer I. Vestal was the first to serve. John Barr, S.C. Barr, Porter J. Davis, Jesse McAdams, and W.P. (Nick) Brightwell also served before anyone involved in day-to-day operation of the bank became president.
Following Duringer as CEO of the bank were: J.R. Patterson from January 20, 1932 to January 14, 1933; C.C. Neeb succeeded him and served until he became fatally ill and resigned August 13, 1937. Fred V. Tunnell then served until the day of his death, September 17, 1968. He was followed by Edwin Baum who served until his passing, December 8, 1971, then Jack W. Tunnell who served until his retirement on July 1, 1980. W.G. (Wimpy) McCoy served as President from July, 1980 to January 31, 1994, when Steven S. Mack succeeded him as President and CEO.
During its early years, THB operated on short rations. Expenses were necessarily held to bare essentials. There was no fat in the operational budget. At intervals, the institution functioned with only three employees: a bookkeeper, a teller and a cashier. The bank would often lend less than $1,000 in a month's time. During 1934, total average daily deposits amounted to $71,445.91, less than one-half of what today's THB often lends to a single borrower.
Just how intent these early bankers were on holding down expenses is revealed in a notation from the minutes of the Board of Directors on June 13, 1934. It reads: "The board voted to buy 5,000 paper towels and 5,000 drinking cups for $17.88, notwithstanding an admonition from Director Broad Bond, that a good gourd is hard to beat for holding liquids."
On the other hand, early-day directors were not unmindful of their employees. A March 12, 1935 notation reads: "Directors voted to pay a fine imposed by the City of Cross Plains against the bank's cashier for fighting with a disgruntled customer."
Growth at THB has been uninterrupted. Droughts, wars, and loss of key personnel notwithstanding, not once has the institution ended a year weaker than it began. Three quarters of a century have come and gone and the little bank, which boasted $27,500 in capital when it opened, now has a capital structure of more than $10 million. In 2001, THB opened its second location in Boerne, Texas, and, in 2005, a third location was opened in Leon Springs, Texas, just outside the San Antonio city limits.
Dedicated personnel have been a hallmark of THB. Through the years, its employees have exhibited responsible character, conducting their jobs well and serving as respected leaders in all facets of community life.
--Adapted from Jack Scott's article: "History of Citizens State Bank, Cross Plains" Cross Plains Review, Oct. 17, 1996.