Saturday, May 3, 2008

Caldwell Banking and Trust Company

I have discovered that finding information and documents related to the Caldwell Banking & Trust Company can be rather difficult. With Frank Steunenberg's assassination in 1905 closely followed by brother A.K.'s. death in 1907, the ownership and administration of the bank from there on forward is unclear. Perhaps other family have more information in that regard. The bank did go on until it failed to open one day in I believe 1925, perhaps an early victim of the depression. I have a little more information around somewhere but can't put my hands on it at the moment. The banks assets were bought up by other financial institutions. Surely there must be some records somewhere.

Pictured at the top of this posting is an old $1000.00 first mortgage real estate bond for an Ammon Christopher and his wife May K, Christopher. The original date on the mortgage is April 6th, 1908, coming after the death of Frank and A.K. The bond amount plus interest is due April 1, 1911. On the back it is marked "pay to the order of Robert E. Morgan without recourse" and signed by J. H. Lowell, Vice president. I hope to someday find other bank documents with the signatures of Frank and/or A.K. but no such luck in this instance. However, this is of interest since it is a period item from the bank and the J. H. Lowell would be James "Harry" Lowell, a close friend and business associate of Governor Steunenberg. Lowell had been handling the real estate transactions of the Caldwell Banking & Trust Company for a number of years. To the left is an early picture of the bank before the rest of the Steunenberg block was erected. This one and other bank pictures are located toward the bottom section of the blog.

From Big Trouble: "For only the day before he'd (Frank) returned from a strenuous trip--by train, buggy and horseback--to his sheep ranch near Bliss, a hundred miles to the southeast. With his business associate, James H. "Harry" Lowell, he'd also inspected an irrigation project along the Wood River. A.K. Steunenberg--his brother's confidant--believed there was a quite different explanation for Frank's behavior that day. Later he told reporters the governor must have received a warning late in the week, which would account for his "unusual" manner. On Friday afternoon at the bank, he'd walked the floor with a "meditative and troubled expression" on his face."

..."Frank and A.K. Steunenberg, often led by Harry Lowell, invested in many of these (water reclamation) projects; recently they'd participated in a more massive scheme to reclaim 250,000 acres in the Twin Falls area, 130 miles to the southwest."

..."they (A.K. and Frank) were officers of Caldwell's Independent Lumber and Manufacturing Company, headed by their colleague Harry Lowell, who also served as manager of the newly formed real estate department at the Steunenberg bank. Lowell and the Steunenbergs reaped thousands of dollars from exclusive sales rights on the remaining lots of the Caldwell Land Company, once run by Bob Strahorn" (From Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas).

I am not sure where the property and assets ended up (not with me!) but the business interests of the Steunenbergs seemed to diminish rapidly from there on with Frank and A.K. having been the main movers and shakers in that regard. Wish I had one of those lots in Caldwell now.

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