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 area.
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 occupied at the time. 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 Third 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 total bank assets exceeded $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." In 1964, A.R (Bob) Appelgren was elected President of the bank due to the death of his father, A.V. (Al) Appelgren, who had worked in various capacities at the bank since 1916.
In 1994, a major renovation of the bank interior was completed, the bank converted back to a state charter and changed its name to Western Bank of Wolf Point. Total assets of the bank at the end of 1994 were just short of $40 million. The Investment Centers of America located a new full-service brokerage firm inside the bank. 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 of Billings, Montana, designed the retrofit to have a turn of the 20th Century look and theme.
A milestone event was held during the summer of 2013 when the bank celebrated its Centennial anniversary. Dignitaries dating their pedigrees back to the early founders and customers of the bank were honored and feted with complimentary gifts, meals and entertainment, and the entire community was invited to share in the celebration.
Today's Western Bank provides service to much of northeast Montana with year-end 2015 assets of $95 million. 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 and native residents of our community!