When the Jackson County Bank was established in 1876, its founders were quoted as saying, “The Jackson County Bank will help develop and build up Jackson County. We are determined to make this Bank an honor to Jackson County and we will help in bringing out its vast resources.” Today, the Jackson County Bank still honors this philosophy. (View the Anniversary Edition Newsletter).
A heading in the December 16, 1876 Banner said: “Jackson County Bank . . . The above is the name of the bank of discount, just brought into existence in this village, and will go into operation on the second of next January (1877) with a paid-up capital of $25,000.”
The bank began business in the former Banking House of Bowman location, west of the J.W.Wells Hardware building on Main at the time. A new bank building was located on the southwest corner of Main and South First Streets and completed in November 1882. The Bank continued business in the building until it was destroyed in the October 6, 1911 flood.
The Jackson County Bank, First National Bank and the Village of Black River Falls suffered devastating losses on that day when floodwaters of the Black River destroyed most of the business district. The bank buildings and land washed away, leaving only the vault of the Jackson County Bank standing.
The height of the Great Depression had reached Jackson County in late 1932 and 1933. In the fall of 1932, county bank officials met to discuss the financial crisis. They determined the best solution would be to consolidate the remaining banks and form one large bank with a main office in Black River Falls and branch banks in each village.
With this in mind, a Business Holiday was called for the days between January 1 and January 15, 1933 and the six banks of the county closed–the Jackson County Bank and First National Bank, both of Black River Falls; Bank of Melrose (which later determined not to join the consolidation); Farmers and Merchants Bank of Hixton; State Bank of Merrillan; and Alma Center State Bank; all old and long-established institutions.
The Banner said: “There had been no concerted run on any of the banks responsible for the move. Neither was any bank in immediate danger of being forced to close, but the continued depression and its effects were bringing about a crisis. In which community it would first occur could not be foretold. Jackson County people have retained remarkable composure throughout the depression. The income of rural communities has been falling off steadily. The farmers and businessmen have seen their revenues dwindling to almost the vanishing point. Those who had been able to lay away funds for dismal days were obligated to draw upon their bank deposits. The drain was long continued and there were no receipts to offset them. Others indebted to banks could not obtain the money with which to repay. Investments made by the banks in prosperous years declined in value along with all else in this land of depression. Disasters cannot be avoided. Their effects can be conquered.”
The new bank, to be known as Jackson County Bank, combined the assets and took over the liabilities of all the other banks. The main location was in Black River Falls with branches in Alma Center, Hixton and Merrillan. In 1935, the State Bank Department authorized Jackson County Bank to open a branch in Taylor.
It was determined in February 1961 to purchase the Hotel Freeman on the southwest corner of Main and Water Streets. The hotel was razed and construction of the new bank began in April 1963. The new facility provided for a drive-up banking window, teller windows, office rooms for transacting business, bookkeeping quarters, storage and behind-the-bank parking. A large community room was located in the basement. The new bank opened for business on July 13, 1964. In 1983 an extensive remodeling project doubled the size of the Bank to its current size.
In July of 1996, our newest location opened its doors. This was the Motor Bank, located on East Highway 54.