MOUNT CARMEL — It’s not everyday that one of a bank’s founding fathers is actually your great-great-grandfather.

J.W. Price was president of First National Bank of Allendale when it was chartered July 6, 1906. Now, his great-great-grandson Don Price is the president. 

“There hasn’t really been any of us in the bank since the 1960s so it’s kind of like returning home for me,” Don said during a Retail Merchants Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Don spoke to RMC members about the history of the bank, including the changing of locations from the south side of Allendale’s Main Street to the north side after a fire substantially damaged the building in 1947. He said the locations has went through three remodels since that time, and is getting ready to begin another this year.

Some people may think that the purchase of the First State Bank West Salem branch was a first for First National, but the bank actually bought Farmers National Bank in Allendale in 1918, Don said. During the ‘30s, the bank was one of the few to survive the Great Depression.

During the Depression, First National was robbed three times, Don shared. 

“In 1929 a gentleman came in and got about $4,000 and took off headed towards Patton and pulled off the side of the road, changed clothes and then headed back to Allendale like no one would notice him,” he said.

Don said there was a mean group of guys in Allendale called the “town guard” that got the money back to the bank.

The second robbery happened on Christmas Eve and involved three men who stole $14,000 from the bank, which the town guard again recovered.

The third and most famous robbery happened Jan. 18, 1936, when robbers lined up bank employees — expect for one. One employee was working in the back of the bank and saw what was going on and crawled out the back window, Don said.

“He crawled out the window to my great-grandfather’s general store and sounded the alarm,” he said.

Believe it or not, there was a large shootout in the quiet town of Allendale that day.

Don continued to share that when First National broke ground in Mount Carmel, Rob Coleman became the president and served for more than 30 years before becoming a chairman of the board.

The location in Mount Carmel has also been remodeled about every 10 years.

“I’m excited about what the bank has going on moving forward,” Don said.

Dan Schonert, owner of one of the State Farm insurance agencies in Mount Carmel, also had history to share with the merchants.

Dan moved to Mount Carmel in 1984.

“I worked for Bank of Mount Carmel, Citizens Bank, Civitas Bank, Fifth Third Bank and never changed keys,” he joked. “Shortly after Fifth Third Bank took over I realized our personalities did not mix very well.”

A few months later, Dan accepted a position at State Farm in January of 2001. 

“I’ve loved it ever since,” he said. “I love the insurance business — I feel like it is what I was meant to do.”

He said the insurance industry has also seen a lot of changes as well. Due to market pressures, Dan became licensed not only in Illinois, but also Indiana.

“I don’t know if you people are aware or not, but a lot of people are moving out of the state of Illinois,” he said. “Those who move to Indiana can keep their policies with me now.”

Dan said they are working to educate people on State Farm’s use-based pricing system called Drive Safe and Save, which will allow for people who use their car less pay less for their insurance.

New agents will also have to consider the future with self-driving, driver-less vehicles, he said.

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