The Spartansburg Bank (1882-1905)
In 1882, a bank was organized in Spartansburg. The bank was a private bank with no state or federal backing. The first President of the bank was IH Burt and the first cashier was FD Catlin. In 1889, DW Tryon became a major stockholder and cashier for the bank. Community members and farmers from the area made deposits and the bank continued to grow, showing $30,000 available in a bank report in 1900.
The Spartansburg Sentinel ran an ad for the bank on March 3, 1905
On March 4, 1905, DW Tryon closed the bank and went to Meadville to transfer all bank and personal property to an “assignee” who would handle the closing of the bank and distribution of assets to creditors and account holders. Fellow Spartansburg businessman, CH Gabriel was chosen by Tryon to be the Assignee, but he did not qualify with the courts so WS Smith of Meadville was named.
Initially, following inspection of the assets and debts, it was expected that subscribers would get at least 75% of their investments. Sadly, the continuing audit and sale of assets did not prove out the 75%.
A state deposit of $5000 had been made to the bank and the bond papers for the money had been signed by Tryon and 4 others; OP Blakeslee, GW Tryon, CH Gabriel and John I Thompson. Those 4 men traveled to Meadville to meet the state’s claim. Some of those men lost property as a result of their signatures on the bond.
Shortly after the bank closing, another blow hit Tryon. A lawsuit for embezzlement was placed by WE Rice from Chicago. Rice had been an investor in a plan to build a chair factory in Spartansburg. Rice had been hired to help raise funds and to develop and begin management of the factory. He had pledged funds for start-up and a percentage of the operating capital if subscriptions sold to local investors were raised. Rice claimed (and had receipts) $1500 had been given to Tryon for start-up. Seeing no progress on the factory, he came to Spartansburg and asked for the $1500 to be returned. It was not returned. Just 3 weeks after the bank closing, a warrant was issued for Tryon for “misapplication of partnership funds”. He was arrested and bail was set at $700.
Tryon shared his thoughts in an interview:
Over the next 14 months, Smith and an accountant reviewed all of the files and auctioned the Tryon properties. The Spartansburg Sentinel shared some initial facts. Tryon and his family moved to Titusville.
The buildings owned by DW Tryon were a 2 story brick building on the SW corner of Main and Mechanic (later called the Diemer building and in 2014 an empty lot) and a brick home behind the store on Mechanic Street (later owned by Fred Bates, and in 2014, the PA GAST HAUS)
The safe from the bank was purchased by SS Bryan of Titusville and the 4 ton safe was hauled to Bryan’s store by a well-known teamster, Seneca Gee. It took 2 days to make the trip.
While Tryon was losing his property and awaiting trial, CH Gabriel who had signed his bond, had to sell his store and some property he owned in Spartansburg so that he could meet his financial obligations. Gabriel was able to maintain his home, but his one story brick building and a lot beside the building was auctioned and sold to fellow businessman JG Titus. His creditors ended up with 20¢ on the dollar.
While no blame for the bank failure was placed on Blakeslee, Gabriel or Thompson, they each had to invest money since they had signed the bond with Tryon. OP Blakeslee contacted the newspapers who reported on the involvement of others. Below is a portion of the article.
John Thompson had been a candidate for the PA Legislature in 1896 and Blakeslee was a past County Commissioner.
EA Blakeslee, a store owner in town was also a part of the bond issue with the state and he ended up having to declare bankruptcy.
In September of 1905, Tryon was found guilty of both charges: 1) embezzlement for the WE Rice charge 2) brought by Wm Huff (representing depositors) for receiving money on deposit when he knew the bank was not solvent. Tryon sought a new trial which was not ultimately granted, so he took the cases to the PA Supreme Court. This court upheld the lower court decision.
Tryon had moved his family to Maumee, Ohio where they remained as he served his 2 year sentence in the Western Penitentiary. He also was required to pay a fine of $766 plus court costs.
CH Gabriel moved with his family to Colorado in early 1906 but they maintained contacts with folks in Spartansburg.
In January of 1907, nearly 2 years after the initial closing of the Spartansburg Bank, an initial reporting of findings was released by WS Smith. It reported on the assets of the bank separate from Tryon’s personal assets. The separation provided 75¢ on the dollar for Tryon’s personal creditors but only 8¢ for the bank creditors. In a follow-up decision, the accounts were combined and divided equally between all of the creditors, resulting in all receiving 13 1/4¢ on the dollar in July, 1907; a long time to wait for a small return.
Tryon died in 1927 in Pensacola Florida.