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Our History

At the turn of the century, Liberal’s commerce was beginning to flourish and the residents of this area had only the makeshift convenience offered by the Old Star Grocery Store, but the times were about to change with the vision of three men who set out to make Liberal, Kansas, a financial center for the first time. The date was July 13, 1900.

Paul Woods, J.W. Berryman, and J.E. George teamed up to establish the Liberal State Bank, which three years later would become the First National Bank of Liberal. At that time, Mr. George was a prominent rancher on the Beaver River and also a general mercantile store operator in Liberal. His associates, Mr. Woods and Mr. Berryman, were from the Dakotas and had a banking background.

When the bank begin, its capital stock was $5,000.00 with a surplus of another $5,000.00. By the end of 1900 the deposits of the new bank had reached a total of $41,992.87, with total loans of $40,958.28.

The early day bank had a small building in the 200 block of North Kansas Avenue. In 1903, the bank moved to the location now occupied by Tan It at 206 North Kansas Avenue and remained there until 1960, when the bank was moved to 324 North Kansas Avenue, which also included Liberal’s first drive-up facility. In 1983 the famed Kansan artist, Stan Herd, completed two murals. Both the external mural on the north side of the bank building and the interior mural have become centerpiece attractions of the bank. In 2008 the bank would once again find a new home at its present location at 1700 North Lincoln Avenue.

The bank is proud to have pioneered not only the first drive-up facility in Liberal, but also the first automatic teller machine—better known as an ATM—in our community. The new machine was introduced to First National Bank customers in 1975.

In 1975 the Express branch was opened at 4th Street and Lincoln Avenue. Through the years the bank opened additional branches in Hugoton, at the Walmart Supercenter, and on the south side of Liberal.

Since the bank’s inception, only two families have owned the major holdings in the bank. In 1975, the heirs of J.E. George sold their interest in the bank to the Winger family from Johnson, Kansas. Melvin Winger has served as chairman of the board since that time. Ten presidents have guided the bank: C.Q. Chandler, J.E. George, W.H. Feather, T.J. Blakemore, C.W. Law, M.H. (Milton) Blakemore, Russell Stoddard, Deryl K. Schuster, Ron R. Poor, Cary Utz, and Tina Call.

From 1900 to the present, the bank has served our community, southwest Kansas, and the Oklahoma panhandle through periods of both great accomplishments and difficult events. From the pioneering hardships of the horse and buggy days of the early 1900s to the Great Depression and Dust Bowl Days of the 1930s and beyond, we have seen the advent of farm irrigation, oil and gas production, commercial cattle feeding, industrial development, and other advancements. First National Bank is proud to have been a leader during these times.

Please take a look at our timeline to see where we’ve been.


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