Special to the News-Times
SHEPHERD — Peoples State Bank, the oldest chartered bank in San Jacinto County, will hit the 100-year mark in October.
The event will be marked Oct. 2 by a barbecue, door prizes, giveaways and a concert with the Kenny Martin Band.
The bank was originally chartered as San Jacinto State Bank and opened in Coldspring on Oct. 11, 1907. On Sept. 21, 1921, the Guaranty Bank of Shepherd assumed ownership of the bank. In 1926, it changed its name to Peoples State Bank.
In 1932, the bank merged with the Coldspring State Bank, but remained in the town of Shepherd and did not open a branch in Coldspring again until 1996. A third location in Livingston was opened in 1998.
The original location of the bank is where JC’s Pharmacy now stands. The bank then moved across the street to the building currently occupied by City Hall. The present location in Shepherd was opened in 1976. Since that time, it has been expanded and remodeled numerous times.
The bank has grown to more than $158,000,000 in assets since opening.
San Jacinto was organized as a county in 1870. It was named after one of the rivers that run through the county. The area was settled by colonists as early as 1830. Prior to that, the Alabama and Coushatta Indian tribes lived there, having been granted land by the Texas Legislature. The land was taken from them by the new colonists.
The Houston East & West Railroad came to Shepherd in about 1880 and made Shepherd its principal station. It served numerous sawmills and cotton and sugar plantations in the area. Products were shipped out of Shepherd by boat as well as by rail. Boats teamed down the Trinity River to the port of Galveston.
The city of Shepherd was established by B.A. Shepherd, who worked for the Houston East & West Railroad and was a good friend of Sam Houston. Mr. Shepherd later left Shepherd and founded the first trust fund in Texas and the nation. The B.A. Shepherd Charity Fund is still in existence today.
Peoples State Bank presently has three locations in the area, serving San Jacinto and Polk counties. They have locations in Shepherd, Coldspring and Livingston. All locations are in or near the vicinity of Lake Livingston, which is one of the largest man-made lakes in the state of Texas, comprising approximately 475 miles of shoreline.
Bank robbers take note: the bank has been robbed three times in its history and each time the thieves were caught and convicted. One of those robberies was during the largest flood in the country in 1973. Two robbers made off with their bounty only to find themselves trapped by mud and rising water and were unable to escape when they had to abandon their car due to the high water and mud.
San Jacinto County’s economy today is based primarily on tourism, ranching and the timber industry. There are two large state parks, one on the east and one on the west side of Lake Livingston. At one time, a large part of the town was consumed by fire, on the west side of the present railroad tracks. After the fire, the town basically rebuilt on the east side of the railroad tracks.
Clarence O. Ford was the longest-termed officer in the bank’s history. He was elected director and acting vice president on Dec. 11, 1928, and shortly thereafter, was named president. Ford tendered his resignation on Feb. 28, 1967, after 39 years of service. After his resignation, he remained an advisor to the Board of Directors.
CEO and Chairman of the Board Clifford W. Miller has the second longest tenure, with 28 years of service. Miller came to Peoples State Bank in January of 1987.
Mark W. Hamilton has elected President, CEO and Chairman of the Board after Miller’s retirement.
Peoples State Bank is presently owned by Amtex Bancshares, which has its headquarters in Orange. They also own Bridge City State Bank in Bridge City and Pavillion Ban