Western Bank of Wolf Point began life as the First State Bank of
Wolf Point in January of 1913 when 13 stock subscribers met in Wolf
Point and put together capital of $20,000 through the issue of 200
shares of stock at $100 per share.
The Articles of Incorporation for the First State Bank were approved
by the State of Montana on February 14, 1913. The first directors
were: Sherman T. Cogswell, Henry T. Smith, John Listerud, Ralph
E. Patch, and Howard M. Cosier.
Probably the best-known name and the leader in establishing the
First State Bank was Sherman T. Cogswell. Mr. Cogswell came to Wolf
Point in 1885 and was a teacher, Indian trader, merchant and postmaster
for many years in old Wolf Point. For years before the Bank was
formed, Mr. Cogswell was extending credit to early settlers in the
In March of 1913, a contract to build a bank building was awarded
to Mr. E.L. Olson of Poplar. The low bid was $1,580. The Bank opened
its doors to the public on May 13, 1913. The Bank building was located
on the south side of Main Street and was in what was later to be
known as the Handy Shop.
There were difficult times for the First State Bank in the beginning
years as the demand for loans was much greater than the deposits.
Homesteaders and business people alike needed capital, and there
was not much money to be had. An interesting note is that interest
rates in 1915 were nine percent during the high loan demand.
In 1917, business was brisk, profits were up, and the directors
decided to build a new bank building. The new building was built
of brick and was located just west of the frame building the Bank
currently occupied. In later years this building became the Stockman's
Bar and is now part of the Black Jax Building. The low bid submitted
for the new building was $5,100 by "Howe and Steele".
In that year, the Bank declared a 15% dividend and the capital was
increased from $20,000 to $30,000. In 1937 the Bank moved into its
third home on the corner of Main Street and 3rd Avenue South in
the Huxsol Block Building, this followed the liquidation of the
First National Bank of Wolf Point.
In 1939, the First State Bank reached a milestone when bank footings
were in excess of $1,000,000. The number of employees and bank deposits
continued to grow and in 1963, construction began on a new bank
building located at 111 Third Avenue South in Wolf Point. During
that same year, the Bank converted to a national banking association
and took the new name of "The Western National Bank of Wolf
Point". Also in 1964, A.R Appelgren was elected President of
the bank due to the death of his father, A.V. Appelgren.
The years 1994 and 1995 brought many changes to the bank. Gib S.
Nichols, President since 1979, retired and R.J. Doornek assumed
the duties of Chief Executive Officer and President. During this
time the bank converted back to a state chartered bank and changed
its name to “Western Bank of Wolf Point.” In addition,
the Investment Center was established as a new business located
in our bank and a major renovation of the bank interior was completed.
During the summer of 2000, the bank was given a substantial face-lift.
The front of the building was bricked and new windows installed.
CTA Architects designed the retrofit to have a turn of the 20th
century look and theme. The Teller line was moved to the north wall
and the drive up lanes were modified. The modification has been
well received and complimented by the customers and visitors.
Today's Western Bank provides service to much of northeast Montana.
From very humble beginnings in a small frame building with living
quarters in the rear, the banking house is now a modern, spacious
building, providing ample room for customers. Mr. Sherman T. Cogswell
would be proud to see the progress his little bank has made since
he first opened the doors of the First State Bank to the pioneers
of this community!