Late in 1947, application was made and a charter granted for the establishment of National Bank of Sweetwater. With $200,000 capital structure, President H. H. Simmons, Vice President E. M. Perkins, Jr., and Cashier J. O. Kirk, opened the bank for business on January 3, 1948 at 122 Oak Street in Sweetwater. At the close of the first day, deposits were recorded at $1,020,705.00 and loans were $153.00.
Organizing directors included: W. H. Bennett, I. A. Loeb, George Marsh, A. R. Norred, B. C. Pace, Glenn Russell, C. S. Simmons, H. H. Simmons, and R. M Simmons. The three Simmons were in no way related, either by blood or by previous business association.
Other persons contributing to the founding of the bank were: J. H. Beall, Jr., counsel for the organizing group, who later became a director in 1954, also L. L. Armor, Mose Newman, Rigdon Edwards, P. L. Ullom, G. D. Beall, J. G. Harris, Henry Doscher, Jr., E. C. Vandervoort, Lee Ballew, Abe and Ike Levy, R. S. Biggerstaff, and Dr. C. A. Rosebrough.
Presidents of the bank have been: H. H. Simmons, January 3, 1948 to April 23, 1949; C. B. Bryant, Jr., April 26, 1949 to March 6, 1959; J. C. Powell, Jr., April 21, 1959 to December 30, 1961; Wilson E. Guest, January 22, 1962 to October 30, 1973; W. Garland Thornton, Jr., January 8, 1974 to May 2, 1975; and Patrick N. Gerald, July 7, 1975 to July 31, 1997; Rick Rhodes, August 1, 1997 to December 27, 2000; J.V Martin, January 1, 2001 to January 1, 2009; Kirby Andrews, January 1, 2009 to present.
Chairmen of the Board have been: R. M. Simmons, January 3, 1954 to September 20, 1955; C. B. Williams, January 1962 to April 15, 1968; Sam Reeves, May 13, 1975 to September 9, 1975; and Patrick Gerald, February 21, 1985 until July 31, 1998, J.V. Martin August 1, 1999 to present.
After six years of operation at its beginning location, the bank moved to a large, remodeled building at the corner of Third and Elm Street. Open house was held at the new facility on May 1, 1954. By this time, capital structure had been increased to $280,000; deposits to $5,284,331; and loans to $2,300,543.00.
Application was made and full fiduciary powers were granted to the bank by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System February 10, 1956, which include estate planning, administration of estates, personal and testamentary trust, guardianships, employee benefit plans, and agency accounts. Since it inception, book value of the assets handled by the department total in excess of $65,000,000.00.
On May 3, 1971 the name of the bank was changed to First National Bank, Sweetwater, Texas.
Steady growth continued to mark the bank's years. As opportunity permitted, the bank acquired more business property to the west and to the south. Vacated buildings, including the old multi-story Blue Bonnet Hotel, were razed and converted into landscaped parking areas.
With the acquisition of this additional space, plans for a new building began to materialize. Contract was let for the new structure in December, 1972. The new modern bank building was completed and June 30, 1974 marked the date for another open house.
On December 4, 1980, the Board of Directors executed a letter of interest with First Abilene Bankshares, Inc., a multi-bank holding company. The letter of intent outlined a proposal of the First Abilene Bankshares, Inc., a multi-bank holding company. The letter of intent outlined a proposal of the First Abilene Bankshares, Inc. to acquire all of the outstanding shares of First National Bank common stock. This acquisition and merger became effective as of August 10, 1981.
In response to an invitation by Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in June, 1989, to discuss the financial status of Texas Bank & Trust Company to determine if there was interest to file application for the purchase of any, or all of the assets of the expected failing bank. After much consideration, a bid was made for certain of the intangible assets and the assumption of the deposit liability to FDIC, the Receiver. The bid was accepted and on July 27, 1989, Texas Bank & Trust Company was closed by the Banking Commissioner of the State of Texas and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and First National Bank accepted possession of such assets as proposed.
Capital structure as of December 31, 1989 was $7,212,025.00; deposits were $92,787,574.00; and loans $32,197,927.00.
Some of the persons who have contributed outstanding support toward the progress of the bank are:
- C. B. Bryant, Jr., President and Director, April 26, 1949 to March 6, 1959.
- Wilson E Guest, President and Director, January 22, 1962 to October 30, 1979.
- Lance Sears, Director, January 11, 1955 to September 22, 1979.
- Charles L Nunn, Director, October 12, 1965 to April 25, 1986.
- W. A. Hickman, Director, January 10, 1961.
- The Louis Brooks Family.
- Paul Hill and the Mose Newman Family.
- Guy Morris, Carlos Morris and Family.
- Dr. James R. Pace, Director, April 15, 1968 (retired due to illness).
- Sam Reeves, Director, May 8, 1968 to June 15, 1992
You're Banking with Family
With 11 regional banks in 54 locations throughout Texas, the First Financial Family offers its customers convenient banking options and local, personal attention. We are familiar names and faces ready to offer you more than you would expect from a bank.
Because we’re family, our customers can visit any of our banks, any of our locations, and always get the same great service. That means more convenient ways to bank the way you want, like choosing from more than 71 different ATMs.
First Financial customers get more value, too. Our banks offer free Online Banking, free Bill Pay, free Debit Cards, and more with every checking account.
More and more, we're the banks Texans turn to for financial services.