Central Bancshares, Inc. History


Why should you care about our history? As is the case with any longstanding organization, the history of Central Bancshares, Inc. is filled with key decisions and challenges that have turned into success. Our history not only tells you about where we came from, but is also an indicator of where we are going.

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Central Bancshares, Inc. Historical Timeline

The beginning of Central Bancshares, Inc. occurred in 1979 when the holding company was organized by the principal owners of Central State Bank. This was done to create the potential for growth of the company through acquiring other community banks.

For over a decade after the creation of Central Bancshares, Inc., Central State Bank was our only subsidiary. This changed in 1994 as we acquired West Chester Savings Bank in West Chester, Iowa and Farmers Savings Bank in Kalona, Iowa through a purchase of 100 percent of their stock. These acquisitions added approximately $65 million to our assets, pushing us over the $300 million mark.

March, 2002 brought more growth as we made our third acquisition: the Galesburg headquarters and local branches of Marquette Bank Illinois. This added another $145 million to our assets. The bank was set up as an independent, state-chartered institution named The Farmers & Mechanics Bank, or F&M Bank, the name it had previously used for over 100 years.

May of 2012 once again brought growth.  F&M Bank acquired the Galesburg branch offices of Associated Bank. A year later, in mid-2013, our three Iowa banks – Central State Bank, Freedom Security Bank and West Chester Savings Bank – came together under a single charter, Central State Bank. They continued to operate under their pre-merger names as offices of Central State Bank until 2015, when it was rebranded as CBI Bank & Trust.

In March, 2015, we acquired Buffalo Prairie State Bank in Buffalo Prairie, Illinois, and merged it into Central State Bank.  Later in the year, West Chester Savings Bank, Freedom Security Bank, Buffalo Prairie State Bank and Central State Bank were all combined under a new name and brand:  CBI Bank & Trust, the name it uses today.

In July, 2016, another acquisition was completed:  Brimfield Bank of Brimfield, Illinois, which was merged into and became an office of F&M Bank. 

In December, 2019, we welcomed Walcott Trust and Savings Bank, with locations in Walcott and Davenport, Iowa, into the Central Bancshares, Inc. family.  It subsequently became a part of CBI Bank & Trust in June, 2020.   

All of these essential acquisitions and our own organic growth bring us to where we are now: a $1+ billion, two-bank holding company with 16 full-service locations throughout communities in eastern Iowa and West-Central Illinois.  Further information is provided in the individual bank histories below.

F&M Bank History

The Farmers and Mechanics Bank, known as F&M Bank, was founded in 1869 by Chauncey Colton. Housed in the main floor of the Union Hotel in Galesburg, it served the deposit and lending needs of the community.

Eventually F&M Bank was acquired by the Minneapolis-based Marquette banking organization and became known as Marquette Bank Illinois. The middle and later decades of the 20th Century brought many changes to the bank:

  • In 1969, the bank added drive-up service to their location at the corner of Cherry and Main.
  • A decade later in 1979, the current Main Bank facility was constructed.
  • In 1989, the bank opened the first full-service, seven-days a week office in the Eagle Food Store on North Henderson.
  • The bank opened its first branch in Peoria on Sheridan Road.  It subsequently moved to North University in 2003, then to 4900 North Glen Park Place in 2006.
  • In 2002, the Galesburg offices of Marquette Bank Illinois were purchased by Central Bancshares, Inc., and absorbed by F&M Bank.

Since being acquired and renamed, F&M Bank has continued to grow. In 2004, the bank built a new branch at 1230 North Henderson Street.  In 2012, it acquired the Galesburg offices of Associated Bank.  On July 1, 2016, the aquisition of Brimfield Bank, Brimfield, Illinois was completed.  In late 2017, the construction of another Galesburg location, Seminary Square, was announced with an opening planned for mid-2018.

CBI Bank & Trust History

The story of CBI Bank & Trust actually consists of the history of five banks — Central State Bank, Freedom Security Bank, West Chester Savings Bank, Buffalo Prairie State Bank, and Walcott Trust and Savings Bank — that came together as one to form today's organization.

Central State Bank

Central State Bank’s history can be traced to the mid-nineteenth century, a time when “private banks” — those not open to the general public — were the norm. The private banking house of Isett and Brewster of Muscatine was one of the earliest of this type in Iowa and operated successfully for a number of years. On May 1, 1865, it was converted to a state-chartered institution, Merchants Exchange Bank, which was opened to the general public. Later that year, conversion to a national charter brought a change in name to Merchants National Exchange Bank.

In the early years, it was not unusual for banks to operate under two charters, one national and one state, with both institutions located in the same building and owned by the same stockholders. Nationally chartered banks traditionally catered to the needs of businesses and they could issue their own bank notes, which served as currency in the absence of today’s Federal Reserve Notes. By contrast, state-chartered institutions emphasized serving individuals and families by accepting savings deposits and making loans for personal and home financing. In 1880, state-chartered Muscatine Savings Bank was organized for the purpose of serving the community in tandem with Merchants Exchange National Bank.

During the intervening years, this dual-bank organization continued to grow. There were a couple of name changes along the way: in 1886, Merchants National became the First National Bank of Muscatine (no relationship to the present-day entity of the same name), and in 1907, Muscatine Savings Bank changed its name to the First Trust and Savings Bank of Muscatine. The year 1933 brought a combining of banking interests into a single operating unit, a new state charter, and a change in name to Central State Bank.

From the 1930s through the 1990s the bank operated primarily in the Muscatine trade area and developed a reputation for leadership. It was among the first banks in Iowa to offer a sidewalk/walkup teller with extended hours for customer convenience (1957), the first bank in Muscatine to offer drive-up banking, and the first to open an office outside of the downtown business district (Park Avenue Banking Center, 1971).  It launched the area’s first banking affinity group, the Ambassador Club (1988), and it was the first to offer the convenience of supermarket banking (Econofoods in-store bank, 1990). It was also among the first in the area to offer ATM services, debit cards, and online and mobile banking.

In 2005, the bank branched beyond Muscatine for the first time, opening an office in Wilton, Iowa. In July, 2013, two affiliate banks, Freedom Security Bank (with locations in Coralville, Iowa and Kalona, Iowa) and West Chester Saving Bank (located in Washington, Iowa) were merged into the organization, but continued to operate under their former names as offices of Central State Bank. On April 1, 2015, the bank’s parent company, Muscatine-based Central Bancshares, Inc., acquired Buffalo Prairie State Bank, Buffalo Prairie, Illinois and merged it into the organization, and began operating it under its former name as an office of Central State Bank.

On September 1, 2015, Central State Bank changed its name to CBI Bank & Trust and brought all of its banking centers together under a single name, logo and brand.

Freedom Security Bank

Freedom Security Bank was founded in 1899 as Farmers Savings Bank in Kalona, Iowa. It had a legacy of strong family leadership and commitment to the community through the Skola family, dating back to Fred Skola, Sr.’s employment with the bank in 1903. Three generations of the family served as President prior to the sale of the institution to Central Bancshares, Inc., in 1994.

In 2002, the bank expanded beyond the Kalona market, building a new facility at 1st Avenue and Holiday Road in Coralville, Iowa. It concurrently changed its name to Freedom Security Bank to reflect its broadened scope of operations.

In mid-2014, the bank was merged into Central State Bank, Muscatine, Iowa. It continued to operate under its former name, as an office of Central State Bank, until September 1, when all Central State Bank offices were combined under the same name and branding of CBI Bank & Trust.

West Chester Savings Bank

West Chester Savings Bank was incorporated March 6, 1900 and the organization’s first building was constructed shortly thereafter in the village of West Chester, Iowa. It opened its doors for its first day of business on July 16, 1900.

The bank enjoyed steady growth over the years. A very notable characteristic is that it never closed its doors in the 1930s during the Great Depression. In 1948, controlling interest in the bank was sold to A.R. Wolf, his son Calvin C. Wolf, and son-in-law John Butler. In 1985, Farmers Savings Bank of Kalona purchased a controlling interest from the major stockholders and continued to operate the institution as a separate, independent entity.

In 1994, the bank was sold to Central Bancshares, Inc. of Muscatine, Iowa and in 1995, the bank charter was moved to Washington, Iowa, where a temporary bank office was leased while construction began on a 2,500 square foot permanent banking facility, which opened for business in March, 1997. In April, 2002, the West Chester facility was consolidated into Washington Banking Center and in 2005, work was completed a 4,000 square foot addition constructed to accommodate continued growth of the organization.

In July, 2014, the bank was merged into Central State Bank, Muscatine, Iowa. It continued to operate under the name West Chester Savings Bank, as an office of Central State Bank, until September 1, 2015, when all Central State Bank offices were combined under the same name and branding of CBI Bank & Trust.

Buffalo Prairie State Bank

Buffalo Prairie State Bank, located in Buffalo Prairie, Illinois, was chartered in September, 1920. Over the years it developed an excellent reputation serving the banking needs of western Rock Island County, Illinois. Growth was steady and at year-end 2014 total assets were over $71 million.

The bank was purchased by Central Bancshares, Inc., on April 1, 2015 and concurrently merged into Central State Bank, Muscatine, Iowa. It continued to operate under its former name, as an office of Central State Bank, until September 1, 2015, when all Central State Bank locations were combined under the same name and branding of CBI Bank & Trust.

Branch Acquisition

On August 5, 2016, the Davenport, Iowa office of MidWestOne Bank was acquired and merged into CBI Bank & Trust.  Located at Second and Brady Streets in the heart of the downtown business district, it became the bank’s ninth location as well as its first in the Quad Cities. 

Walcott Trust and Savings Bank

Walcott Trust and Savings Bank was created by the merger of two banks during the Great Depression:  Walcott Savings Bank and Farmers Savings Bank, both located in Walcott, Iowa. Walcott Savings Bank was organized in 1893 and was located on the southeast corner of Bryant and Henry streets. Farmers Savings Bank started in 1904 and was located in the east part of the current bank building at 101 West Bryant Street. The two banks merged on May 20, 1931 into a single entity, Walcott Trust and Savings Bank.

In 2014, the bank opened its first branch, a full-service facility in Paul Revere Square on East Kimberly Road in Davenport, in order to serve its growing customer base in the Quad Cities.

In August, 2019, the bank entered into an agreement to be purchased by Central Bancshares, Inc., a transaction which was completed on December 12, 2019.  In June, 2020, Walcott Trust and Savings Bank became part of CBI Bank & Trust, and its Walcott and Davenport Paul Revere Square facilities became CBI BT’s tenth and eleventh locations.