The State Bank had its beginnings with the town in 1884, and has continued to be a major asset of the community. The bank building was located in various locations along main street until the building on 5th and Spring was erected in 1922. The current building at Spring and 7th was built in 1977, and renovated in1998.
As the Bank of Conway Springs, it was founded in 1884 as a private bank James M. Harper, Conway Springs, G. Dengler, Chicago, IL, and J.C. Lutz, Gardner IL. The three partners were rated with net assets of over $200,000. Besides carrying on a general banking business, the funds of the owners were loaned on nearby farm land to assist in the rapid agricultural development that accompanied the railroad boom.
Mr. Dengler died early in the bank’s history, when it became known as the firm of Harper & Lutz. Mr. Harper later bought the interest of Mr. Lutz, and was sole owner until his death in 1908, when it became the property of his widow, Min S. Harper. Soon after Mr. Harper’s death, a state charter was applied for, and granted on August 24, 1908, for a term of 50 years to Min S. Harper and Fred C. Myers, Conway Springs; William Meuser and William L. Meuser, Anson; John S. Harper, Sydney, NE; and L.S. Nafzger, Wichita. The first shares of stock were issued to the above persons and to Tom Moore, who was named cashier. Mrs. Harper retained the larger interest, 190 shares. Five days later, Mrs. Harper sold her interest to John N. Hunt and G.A. Talbert. Forty shares were sold to various citizens in the community.
At the annual stockholders meeting in January 1909, J.N. Hunt, C.C. Taylor, Wm. Meuser, G.A. Talbert, and F.C. Myers were elected directors. They in turn elected J.N. Hunt as President, F.C. Myers as Vice President, and C.C. Taylor as Cashier. This group retained those positions until 1919. Homer Hunt, son of the President, became a teller of the bank in 1913.
In 1913 Mr. Talbert sold his interest to C.K. Bishop, S.J. Bride, S.C. Bishop, and C.C. Taylor. Mr. Hunt died in 1919 and was succeeded as President by C.C. Taylor, and Homer Hunt became a Director and Cashier. Lloyd Bishop became Assistant Cashier in 1922. In 1926, Lloyd bought the stock of F.C. Myers, was elected to the Board of Directors to replace Mr. Myers, and became Vice President.
Dr. R.A. McIlhenny was elected President in 1923. Among later directors were W.W. Burris, Dr. R.C. McIlhenny, and Mary K Hunt. Homer Hunt became President in January 1937. Ashley Cranmer, grandson of Hiram Cranmer, founder of the city of Conway Springs, began working for the bank in 1946. Homer Hunt continued as President until his retirement in 1974. Cranmer and Hunt also ran the Cranmer Hunt Insurance Agency from the bank until Homer Hunt sold the agency in the mid 1980’s.
On May 4, 1974, a group of businessmen from the National Bank of Wichita purchased Hunt’s majority stock. They were: Gene Payer, John Loomis, Wayne Payer, Francis Young, Don Tinker, and O.J. Connell, El Dorado. John Loomis was named President, with Ashley Cranmer as CEO, and Cranmer continued to serve on the Board of Directors. David Young started in June of 1974, representing the Wichita interests.
In 1976, Loomis retired and sold his interest in the bank to David Young. Ash Cranmer was named President, with David Young Vice President and Cashier. Young and was appointed to the Board of Directors. At this time the Directors were Gene Payer, Wayne Payer, O.J. Connell, Ash Cranmer, Francis Young, Don Tinker, and David Young.
In 1987, Ash Cranmer retired as President, and David Young was named President and CEO. Francis Young passed away in 1990. Gene Payer passed away in April 1992. Wayne Payer died in November 1998. To replace Wayne Payer, his son, Arden Payer, was appointed as director. David Young retired due to health issues in 1998. In 1998 Young was named Chairman of the Board. After the death of O.J. Connell in 2000, his son, Tim Connell, was appointed to the Board.
There have been several presidents in the ensuing years: William Schlobohm was named President in 1998, Michael Watkins in 2001, Doug Malsam in 2002, Jon Ott in 2004, and Candace Wolke, who has been President since 2011. Currently, in 2013, members of the Board of Directors are: David Young, Ash Cranmer, Don Tinker, Arden Payer, Tim Connell, and Candace Wolke. Current bank employees are Candace Wolke, Susan May, Denise Worley, Kathy Smith, Rita Osner, Janie Cottrell, Amy Bellar, Angie May, and Nancy Young.
In August 2013, David Young, Chairman of the Board, announced that the current owners of the bank agreed to sell their interests to Willis and Elizabeth Hartman and Steve Worrell, the principals of Vintage Bank Kansas, which currently has branches in Wichita and Leon, KS. As of this date, the sale is awaiting regulatory approval. In a press release, Young stated that the current owners wanted to find new owners committed to the philosophy of community banking and customer service that have been the foundation of the State Bank of Conway Springs since its beginnings in 1884. The owners are confident that Vintage Bank Kansas will ensure the continuation of the bank’s commitment to its customers and the community, as well as to the existing staff.