The Bank of Pasco County

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Bank of Pasco County Celebrates Birthday (1924)


This article appeared in the Dade City Banner on Sept. 5, 1924.

Probably the proudest people in Dade City today are the officers and directors of the Bank of Pasco County, for today is the thirty-fifth birthday of that institution, which was one of the first three banks to be chartered by the state, and now shares with the Bank of Quincy the honor of being the oldest bank working under a state charter in Florida. The first financial institution in Pasco county, it is also the largest, and while always conservative in its policies it is one of the most potent factors in the growth and development of that section of the state which it serves.

The history of the bank, from its beginning to the present time, is one of steady growth and bears strong testimony to the careful and sane management of the men who have had charge of its affairs, and the natural worth of the territory in which it is located. Beginning as a small institution, its capital has been increased from time to time as was found necessary until now its capital stock is nearly as much as the other three banks in Pasco county. It has passed through storms and stresses, but has safely weathered them all, and now stands like a rock, a model for other institutions to copy.

The birth of the Bank of Pasco County was on September 5, 1889, when three charters, authorizing the institution of banks in Tavares, Quincy and Dade City were issued by the State Comptroller’s office. The charter of the bank at Dade City was number three of these three banks, first ever authorized under the state constitution, one, The Bank of Tavares, failed during the business depression that followed the great freeze of 1894-95. The Bank of Quincy and the Bank of Pasco County are both in existence and are strong and growing institutions.

The incorporators of the Bank of Pasco County, as shown by its early records, were Russell Hall, Jacksonville: A. A. Parker, Tavares; J. C. Pace, Altoona; M. T. Hall, Jacksonville; and C. H. Newell, Tavares. At a meeting of the directors after the charter was received, A. A. Parker was elected president and H. H. Hensley cashier. The capital stock of the bank at that time was $15,000; at the present time it is $50,000.

Four months after its institution a call was made for a statement of its affairs and the report shows that its total resources were $43,960.52. According to its latest statement, issued June 30 of this year, its resources total $805,438.80.

At the expiration of its first year Mr. Hensley resigned as cashier and H. T. Douglas, now president of the Shawnee National Bank of Shawnee, Okla., took charge of this department. Mr. Douglas remained with the bank till 1892, when two changes were made in its personnel, H. Robertson succeeding Mr. Parker as president, and W. I. Porter becoming cashier. These officers remained in charge until 1914, when, on the retirement of Mr. Robertson, Mr. Porter assumed the presidency, while A. Frank Price became cashier. Both of these gentlemen are still connected with the bank and active in its affairs.

Mr. Porter remained in charge of the bank all through the trying times of the war period and until 1920, when he retired from the presidency in favor of Dr. L. A. Bize, president of the Citizens Bank and Trust Company of Tampa, one of the strongest financial institutions in the state, Mr. Porter retaining his place on the directorate.

The present officers of the bank are L. A. Bize, president; John Raymond, vice-president; A. F. Price, cashier; Laura Spencer Porter, assistant cashier. The Board of Directors consists of these four with the addition o f G. B. Massey, R. D. Sistrunk and W. I. Porter.

With a record of which it may well be proud and with a future bright in prospects, the Bank of Pasco County is receiving congratulations of its friends and best wishes for “many happy returns of the day.”

The Bank of Pasco County Sets 80th Anniversary (1969)

This article appeared in a booklet published by the bank in 1969.

The Bank of Pasco County, which has been in continuous operation since it opened its doors for business on September 5, 1889, will celebrate its 80th anniversary with Open House on Thursday, September 25th and Friday, September 26th, 1969 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

All customers and friends are invited to share in this celebration by visiting the bank. Tours will be conducted through the bank, and there will be refreshments, gifts, and prizes.

Leon R. Douglas, President of the bank, will be assisted by other officers, directors, and personnel in welcoming all guests.

The Bank of Pasco County, which holds Charter No. 3, dated September 5, 1889, and Quincy State Bank, are the two oldest state banks in Florida.

The Bank of Pasco County which has as its slogan, “The Old Reliable”, has among its customers the fifth generation of the original depositors. The first published statement of the bank on December 31, 1889, showed total resources of $43,960.52. Deposits were $25,534.73. The current statement as of June 30, 1969, shows total resources of $18,437,470.89. Deposits as of that date were $16,971,381.39. The Bank is a member of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and has been since F.D.I.C. was established in 1933. The Bank is also a member of the Florida Bankers Association, Independent Bankers Association and American Bankers Association.

The Bank of Pasco County was established two years after Pasco County was formed in 1887 from a portion of Hernando County, and about three years after the present location of Dade City was surveyed. The surrounding area of Dade City and the eastern section of the new Pasco County was a thick forest of large virgin pine trees, which attracted the attention of five Florida men interested in the fast growing turpentine business. They decided such natural wealth must bring growth enough to Dade City to warrant the establishment of a bank.

Acting on this decision, A. A. Parker and C. E. Newell of Tavares, Russell T. Hall and M. T. Hall of Jacksonville, and J. C. Pace of Altoona chose Dade City as the site for The Bank of Pasco County, which was duly incorporated on September 5, 1889. The capital stock was $15,000 with 150 shares of $100 par value. These organizers of the bank became its first directors.

The present capital stock of the bank is $500,000, and the surplus fund is $600,000. At the time of the organization of the bank, no surplus fund was required.

The bank remains on its original location at the corner of E. Meridian Avenue and 7th Street (Plum Street on the original plat of Dade City), which is U. S. Highway 301 through Dade City.

The original two-story brick building is the nucleus of the present modernized bank, with an attractive interior, well arranged departments with splendidly equipped offices and a large room for meetings, of the Board of Directors, and a well equipped conference room. The several additions and renovations have provided for eleven windows for serving the public, including three drive-in windows, to make a total of eight windows used by receiving and paying tellers; a window each for the savings teller and the collection teller, also the bookkeeping window, and an Installment Loan Department and Commercial Loan Department.

Extending across the west wall of the lobby is a significant painting of Florida’s “forest primeval” and its wealth of pine trees, which prompted the establishment of the Bank of Pasco County.

During the 80 years since the organization of the Bank of Pasco County, it has had only six presidents. A. A. Parker, one of the organizers of the bank, the first president, served for three years.

Charles H. Robinson, who became a director of the bank in 1890, succeeded Parker in 1892 to become the bank’s second president, with H. W. Coleman, pioneer merchant as vice president, an office he held for 28 years until his death in 1919. With W. N. Ferguson, another pioneer merchant, a member of the board of directors of the bank for 17 years, they formed the firm of Coleman and Ferguson, whose trade name continues to be prominent among Dade City’s business firms.

W. I. Porter, whose connection with the bank began with his election to the board of directors in 1891, became the bank’s cashier in 1892 and succeeded Robinson in 1914 as the bank’s third president. Porter held this office through 1919 until his retirement.

In 1920, Dr. L. A. Bize of Tampa was chosen as the fourth president of the Bank of Pasco County and served through 1929.

A. F. Price, who became the bank’s fifth president in 1930, began his career of 53 years in the Bank of Pasco County on June 10, 1908, and worked there continuously until his death on June 25,1961. He began serving as an officer in 1912, when he became assistant cashier to W. I. Porter, cashier. Price became cashier in 1914, when Porter was elected president Price continued to serve as cashier until 1926 when he was elected vice president to succeed John Raymond, deceased. With the resignation of Dr. Bize as president, the directors elected Price as president, and he assumed his duties at the beginning of the year 1930 and held this office until his death, after a long and valuable record service of 32 1/2 years as “the boss”, the friendly title accorded him by his associates.

Coincident with the recognition accorded him by the bank on April 11, 1958, for his 50 years’ employment was the presentation to him by the Florida Bankers’ Association of a certificate of his election to membership in the Half Century Club of the association in appreciation of his having “devoted 50 years or longer to active service in the profession of banking in Florida.” The certificate, in a framed plaque, one of President Price’s prized possessions, bears the gold seal of the Florida Bankers Association and signatures of the president and vice president of the association, and the date of presentation.

Mrs. Laura Spencer Porter, who became associated with the Bank in September, 1908, also holds membership in the Half Century Club of the Florida Bankers Association, presented to her in September, 1958, on her 50th anniversary of employment in the Bank. She became assistant cashier to A. F. Price, cashier, in 1920, and served six years in this office until he became vice president in 1926, and she became cashier. She served in this office seven years and then continued in the dual office of cashier and vice president from 1933 through 1939. As vice president, in 1930, 1931, and 1932, following membership on the board of directors since 1911. Mrs. Porter, while inactive, continues to hold the office of vice president.

Leon R. Douglas, the bank’s genial and efficient president, became an employee of the Bank of Pasco County in May, 1924, celebrating his 45 years with the bank the past May. He became assistant cashier in 1933, cashier in 1940, and executive vice presided and cashier in 1961 and succeeded the late A. F. Price as president on August 8, 1961. His membership on the board of directors began in 1941.

Mrs. Marie Platt, a well known former employee of the bank, began her employment on January 2, 1922, became assistant cashier in 1934, and held this office until her retirement in 1957.

H. S. Massey was serving as vice president and chairman of the board of directors at the time of his death on June 24,1968; succeeding his father, G. B. Massey, to the board of directors in 1925.

W. V. Gilbert, former tax assessor and postmaster of Dade City, served as a member of the board of directors from 1926 until resigning in late 1963, shortly before his death.

J. A. Barthle, who became a member of the board in 1934, is in his 35th year as a director, now serving as Director Emeritus.

The bank’s history during its 80 years has included many outstanding businessmen on its board of directors who shared in the building of Dade City. In addition to those already mentioned, others, now deceased, include N. H. Garner, John Raymond, Col. J. A. Hendley, F. S. Daiger, C. A. Lock (who was also an assistant cashier in 1908, 1909, and 1910), and J. C. Griffin.

L. C. Hawes, Sr. was elected a director on August 8, 1961, and is now serving as vice-chairman of the board of directors. James L. Huckabay was elected a director on January 4, 1962, and is now serving as chairman of the board of directors. Ben R. Adams was elected as director on January 9, 1964. A. O. Kiefer was elected as director on January 9, 1964. A. H. Schrader was elected as director on January 6, 1966.

The present board of directors is composed of Ben R. Adams, J. A. Barthle, Leon R. Douglas, L. C. Hawes, Sr., James L. Huckabay, A. O. Kiefer, and A. H. Schrader.

The photo appeared in an advertisement in the Tampa Morning Tribune of Dec. 14, 1919.

Pasco’s First Bank (1976)


This article is taken from East Pasco’s Heritage.

The Bank of Pasco County was established in 1889, two years after Pasco County was formed from a portion of Hernando County. The area surrounding Dade City was a thick forest of virgin pine trees. These attracted the attention of five Florida men interested in the fast-growing turpentine and lumber business. They decided that such natural wealth must bring growth enough to Dade City to warrant the establishment of a bank. These men were A. A. Parker and C. E. Newell of Tavares, Russell T. Hall and M. T. Hall of Jacksonville, and J. C. Pace of Altoona. The Bank of Pasco County was duly incorporated on September 5, 1889, bearing the third oldest state bank charter in Florida. The capital stock was $15,000.

During the eighty-seven years since organization the bank has had only seven presidents. A. A. Parker, one of the organizers, was first president. Charles H. Robinson succeeded Parker in 1892. W. I. Porter, a Director, became third President in 1914. In 1920 Dr. L. A. Bize of Tampa was chosen as fourth President. A. F. Price. who became fifth President in 1930, began his career of fifty-three years in the bank in 1908 and worked there continuously until his death in 1961.

Leon R. Douglas, who became sixth President in 1961, became an employee of the bank in 1924. He became Assistant Cashier in 1933, Cashier in 1940, Executive Vice-President and Cashier in 1961, and succeeded the late A. F. Price as President that same year. Leon served until his retirement January 1, 1971, when Hjalma Johnson became seventh President. Total resources on the last published statement were over fifty million dollars.

In 1924 when Leon went to work for the bank, there were only four other employees: A. F. Price, Laura Spencer Porter, Marie Futch Platt, and Ernest Houdlette. Leon likes to tell the story of how he became a bank employee. He was working at Coleman and Ferguson Company then. One day Mrs. Porter asked Leon if he would like to work at the bank. She approached Younger O’Neal, manager of Coleman and Ferguson department store, and asked if it would be all right with him. He replied that if Leon did not like working at the bank he could come back and hang up his hat and go back to work. Leon must have liked it, for he became a member of the “Half Century Club” of the Florida Bankers’ Association in 1974.

Leon is a third-generation native of Florida. His grandfather, James William Douglas, and father, William Eston Douglas, were born in Florida. Leon was born in the small community of Darby, which was named for the family of his great-great-grandmother, Mary Darby. She was a sister of the wife of Captain Bradley, whose two children were murdered by Indians in Darby community. Until a short time ago, there was a marker at the junction of state roads 581 and 578, telling of the murders. Leon’s mother, Zula Bellamy, moved to Florida from Conway, SC, when very young. Her family settled in west Pasco County near present Hudson.

As a boy growing up on a farm, Leon needed no planned recreation; his father and grandfather planned his work along with theirs. Spring was crop-planting time. After this came the time for gathering cattle and marking and branding calves. It was always a highlight of the season for Leon and his cousin, Douglas Bellamy, to camp out one or two nights, rounding up the cattle which roamed the open range. The older “cowboys” made coffee and cooked the meals around the campfire, which burned all night.

In the late spring Leon’s grandfather spent several weeks camping out with the flock of sheep at lambing time, penning the flock each night for protection against dogs and wild animals. This too was a highlight in Leon’ life, to camp out with his grandfather in his little cabin. When sheep-shearing time came, Leon was on hand again to help the boys catch the sheep for the shearers. The wool was then packed in bags which held several hundred pounds of wool. Leon and his cousins always looked forward to the trip to Brooksville to sell the wool, riding upon the large bags of wool in a two-horse wagon.

In the summertime, Leon, his sister Valencia, and brother Howell, along with their cousins, enjoyed fishing and swimming in Bee Tree Branch. Another big event was a day spent on Big Fish Lake, fishing with family and friends. Luck was usually very good, and a picnic dinner with plenty of fried fish was enjoyed by all.

Mamie Lee Capps, of Opelika, Alabama, moved to Dade City in 1925 during the big real estate boom of the twenties. She was employed by C. A. Lock to work for the Pasco County Abstract Company. During this period she met Leon; they were married June 15, 1925 in the First Methodist Church with Dr. J. W. Blake officiating. Dr. Blake and his wife, Frances, helped the Douglases celebrate their Golden Wedding anniversary, June 15, 1975. The Douglases continue to be active in their church and several civic organizations. In spite of the fact that Leon has retired, he continues as a member of the Board of Directors and the Loan Committee of the Bank of Pasco County.

“Old Reliable” Tall Among Banks (2002)

This article appeared in the Tampa Tribune on July 10, 2002.


The thick forests of virgin pine brought prosperity to the area in the late 1880s.

And as the turpentine and lumber businesses grew, five progressive-thinking men thought the natural wealth would warrant enough profits to establish a bank.

Thus the Bank of Pasco County was granted a charter Sept. 5, 1889. It was the third charter granted by the state Treasury Department and the first bank to open in Pasco County.

The five original founders served as the first board of directors. They were: A. A. Parker and C. E. Newell, both of Tavares; Russell T. Hall and M. T. Hall, both of Jacksonville; and J. C. Pace of Altoona.

The bank’s capital stock was $15,000, with 150 shares sold for $100 each. The bank’s first published statement on Dec. 31, 1889 showed total resources of $43,960. Deposits were $25,534.

The bank opened in a two- story, red-brick building completed in 1891 at Meridian Avenue and Seventh Street in the heart of downtown Dade City.

The architecture, Victorian arabesque, resembled that of the Tampa Bay Hotel. That hotel is now the home of the Henry B. Plant Museum at the University of Tampa.

The Bank of Pasco building had Moorish arches over the windows and a minaret-like cupola over the door.

The cupola was removed about 1915, possibly because it leaked. But the Victorian arabesque style also would have seemed very old-fashioned in 1915. It was quite ornate, and taste had shifted to simpler styles.

The brick was stuccoed in gray, and the Moorish arches were made over into something that resembled art deco, with white paint highlighting the arches. Street lights were added about 1920, and the marble counters replaced old wire teller cages about the same time.

With the removal of the teller cage came down the sign that read: “Please do not spit on the floor. To do so may spread disease.”

Other banks followed the Bank of Pasco County’s lead. American State Bank was opened in Zephyrhills in 1914. The State Bank of Trilby was built in 1918.

The Bank of Dade City opened across Seventh Street from the Bank of Pasco in 1919. And the State Bank of Elfers was ready to open in 1926 when the Florida real estate boom collapsed.

The Depression began in Florida that year with the ending of the boom and bank failures throughout the state. But the Bank of Pasco earned the nickname “Old Reliable,” closing for only a day or two while bank president Frank Price and Laura Spencer Porter, one of four bank employees, rounded up enough assets to allow the bank to reopen.

And when the 1929 stock market crash arrived, every bank in Pasco County had failed except the Bank of Pasco County, which was forced to close and reorganize with a program to pay off its depositors, which took 15 years.

Throughout the years, the original Bank of Pasco building remained the nucleus of the bank. But it expanded, acquiring the adjacent building that was constructed to house Sunnybrook Tobacco Co., at one- time the largest employer in Pasco County.

In 1960 the original bank building got another face lift, as the stucco was covered with a layer of plywood with a pebble finish. But in 1988 – nearly 100 years after it was built that facade was demolished when architects said it could not be restored.

By that time, the Bank of Pasco County had been bought out by a large international banking conglomerate and was owned by its current owner, First Union National Bank.

The bank went to great length and expense to replace the “old reliable” with a replica of the original building that has stood at Seventh Street and Meridian Avenue for more than 100 years.

Wachovia Bank (2008), designed to look similar to the original Bank of Pasco County


Aug. 15, 1889. The Bank of Pasco County announces in the Pasco County Democrat that it will open for business as soon as its banking house is completed, but that meanwhile, anyone wishing to borrow money can write to A. A. Parker, Tavares, the president of the bank.

Mar. 17, 1904. At about 2 a.m., safe blowers attempt to rob the Bank of Pasco, dynamiting the large iron doors leading to the bank vault. The charges of dynamite were so heavy that the large brick building was cracked from roof to base and every one of the plate glass windows was blown out.

April 20, 1924. The Tampa Morning Tribune has: “The Bank of Pasco County is not only the oldest and largest bank in the county, but it is the oldest bank chartered by the state, and the second one to receive such a charter. Organized 35 years ago, it has grown with Dade City and has become one of the strong financial institutions of this section.”

Oct. 30, 1925. A newspaper reports that the Bank of Pasco County moved into its new home, which was remodeled from the old building.

July 17, 1929. The Bank of Pasco County is among 15 banks in Florida closed and placed in the hands of the state bank department.

Aug. 3, 1929. The Tampa Morning Tribune has: “R. A. Gray, assistant state comptroller, said yesterday the Bank of Pasco county, at Dade City, recently closed, probably would be reopened for business in about 10 days.”

Aug. 24, 1929. The Bank of Pasco County reopens with 90% of its deposits frozen. A celebration by local residents with speeches marked the reopening.

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