First Iowa State Bank was originally organized as Farmers State Bank of Keosauqua and Birmingham in March of 1931. There were 70 share-holders with controlling shares held by B.J. Howland of Pleasantville, Iowa. Most of the shareholders were local residents who invested $120 to $240 in the new bank. Local surnames of stockholders included DeHart, Hodges, Mechem, Rinaberger, Secor, and Syfert. Before the bank was established in what is now the Van Buren Telephone Company office, there was no bank in Keosauqua. Two earlier banks, the Manning Bank and the Keosauqua State Bank, had closed. Space for the new bank was rented from Dr. F.M. McClurg for $30 a month for 30 years. By June 30, 1931, total deposits in Farmers State Bank were $151,727.92 and loans were $25,835.
Fred E. Ovrom purchased the controlling interest in Farmers State Bank from B.J. Howland in 1936 and continued as its controlling stockholder until his death in 1979. He was president from 1936 to 1973. Assets of the bank during his 45-year tenure rose from $275,000 to $22,000,000. Fred Ovrom changed the philosophy of the bank by being a believer in making loans to local farmers and businessmen. He became a driving force in the community, serving as a city councilman, an organizer of the sale barn, the Keosauqua Light Plant, the Keosauqua Rotary Club and the Keosauqua Business Club, just to name a few.
Under Fred Ovrom’s guidance, Farmers State Bank constructed a new building between 1957 and 1958 and, with new additions, this building continues to be the home of First Iowa State Bank in Keosauqua. The Birmingham office was renovated in 1971, transforming it into a showpiece building in downtown Birmingham. After many years of serving the Birmingham community, this branch was closed in May of 2019.
In 1973, Fred was succeeded by his son, Arthur P. Ovrom, and his son-in-law, John A. Manning. Family involvement continued with the hiring of John O. Manning in 1973 and George E. Manning in 1979.
In 1980, Van Buren Bancorporation was formed, creating a one-bank holding company. State Savings Bank of Cantril was purchased by the Bancorporation in 1983. A branch of the State Savings Bank was opened in Bloomfield, Iowa, in 1994. Farmers State Bank and State Savings Bank merged in 1996, creating Community First Bank.
In early 2013, in an effort to continue the growth of Community First Bank, its owners took steps to acquire First Iowa State Bank in Albia and Eddyville, Iowa. Two years later, in January 2015, Community First Bank changed its name to First Iowa State Bank in order to tie the two banks to each other without completing an official merger.
In October 1993, an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) was formed by Van Buren Bancorporation and the employees purchased 30% of the holding company. In August of 2017, this shifted to 100% when the remaining family-owned shares were sold to the ESOP, thus making First Iowa State Bank one of only a handful of 100% employee-owned community banks in Iowa.