First Iowa State Bank History
On January 1, 2023, First Iowa State Bank of Albia and First Iowa State Bank of Keosauqua, both chartered in the 1930’s, merged into a single institution. Both banks have been family-owned for most of their existence but over the last decade have fully transitioned to 100% employee-owned institutions, bringing all employee’s families into the ownership circle. Both banks have long histories of strong dedication to and support of their local communities. As a single, united institution, First Iowa State Bank is committed to carrying this legacy forward.
Brief History of First Iowa State Bank
--Albia & Eddyville--
The present bank was formed in 1930 and represented a consolidation of three Albia banks. First National Bank, Iowa Trust and Savings Bank and Albia State Bank. Two of the three were facing closure and it was determined that combining the three would protect customers and the community at large while also avoiding losses. The bank’s name is derived from each of the three original banks. During the first year of operation the bank grew to $1,068,291 in total assets with $655,339 in loans.
From the 1930’s through the 1950’s, the Bates family of Albia were partial owners, and several family members had a substantial impact on both the local community as well as the banking industry. David A. Bates served as Superintendent of Banking during the 1930’s and was involved in the formation of the FDIC. His son, Robert T. Bates, attended Drake Law School and served as an attorney in the Navy during WWII before finding his calling in Hollywood as an interior designer. In 1953 he returned to Albia to work at the bank and initially served as a teller. He quickly rose up the ranks and served as Chairman of the Board from 1957 until his passing in 1995. During his tenure he shaped the Albia location into a Victorian Era showpiece. The artwork at the Albia location showcases many local artists as well as those more widely recognized; this helps bring tourists to Albia and employees are proud to host tours for visitors throughout the year. Robert Bates’ influence can also be seen in Terrace Hill in Des Moines as he was part of the commission that remodeled the Governor’s home.
Over the next several decades, the Bates family was able to gain controlling interest in the bank. Additionally, Robert L. Kaldenberg and Raymond H. Davis, were able to purchase the remaining shares of the bank. The partnership of Bates, Kaldenberg and Davis strengthened the bank’s position as a family-owned community bank. Their leadership has been important in keeping our local communities strong.
In 1973 a motor bank office was opened in Albia on Benton Ave East. It was completely remodeled in 2003 to reflect the Victorian theme of the historic Albia city square.
In 1987, First Iowa State Bank opened an office in Eddyville in a restored historic building on the main business street. Interestingly, this same building housed the Manning & Epperson State Bank formed in 1902. Edwin Manning, of Manning & Epperson, was directly related to the Manning family of Van Buren County.
Under the leadership of the Davis and Kaldenberg families, First Iowa State Bank had grown to over $148 Million in assets with over $77 Million in loans as of 2013. They also decided to transition their ownership. They were committed to keeping First Iowa State Bank a locally owned community bank. It didn’t take long for them to decide that they should become part of the Van Buren Bancorporation holding company. The Manning family provided strength and stability for First Iowa State Bank and allowed the institution to remain a leader in their community.
Brief History of First Iowa State Bank
--Keosauqua, Cantril & Bloomfield --
In March of 1931, the bank was organized as Farmers State Bank of Keosauqua and Birmingham. There were 70 shareholders 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. At the time it 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.
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. 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, the remaining family-owned shares were sold to the ESOP, thus making First Iowa State Bank one of the few 100% employee-owned community banks in the country.