The Garrett State Bank and the City of Garrett were named after John Work Garrett. John's father Robert Garrett had become a successful merchant and shipper in Baltimore and had extensive interests throughout the East. He stepped in to assist the financially embarrassed Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in several ways. Bonds were sold to finance the extension to Wheeling WV and his firm assisted in making various management decisions. Robert Garrett's sons, Henry and John W. Garrett became members of the Board of Directors of the railroad.
In 1858 at the age of 38, John W. Garrett became the President of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and thereafter devoted most of his time to its operation.
Like many Baltimore families, the Garrett family was divided in loyalty between the North and the South. Henry supported the South, and John supported the North. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was a northern railroad, even though its tracks came below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Despite the danger from Southern troops, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was kept busy as the only rail line between Washington, D.C. and the northern states. It operated almost continuously despite occasional interruptions and much interference by the Confederate forces.
In October 1862, John W. Garrett put a train at the disposal of President Abraham Lincoln, who journeyed to Antietam. He invited Garrett to join him and on October 3, 1862 Matthew Brady photographed Lincoln, General George B. McClellan (who was to run against Lincoln for President in 1864) and John W. Garrett in front of General McClellan's tent on the battlefield.
Lincoln paid high tribute to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for the services rendered during the war and declared that John W. Garrett was "…the right arm of the Federal Government in the aid he rendered to the authorities in preventing the Confederates from seizing Washington and securing its retention as the Capital of the loyal States." The decade following the Civil War was one of tremendous economic expansion, especially for the nation's railroads. During the 1870's the rail mileage more then doubled from 44,614 miles to 92,146 miles in 1880.
Chicago was rapidly becoming the railroad center of the United States. A railroad without a connection to Chicago could not effectively compete in a national market. Thus John W. Garrett started making plans to expand his railroad westward from Pittsburgh to Chicago. This proved to be impossible, so an alternative plan, which was far less expensive, was made to build a branch from the Newark-Sandusky line straight across the comparatively level areas of northern Ohio and Indiana to Chicago. John W. Garrett is credited with connecting Baltimore and Chicago with this railroad expansion. John W. Garrett died September 26, 1884.
The City of Garrett was founded as a divisional point for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad on the Chicago route. The City was incorporated in 1876 and was laid out by Beverly L. Randolph. Mrs. Randolph named the main street in town after herself and many of the original streets including Keyser, King, Cowen and Quincy were named after officers of the Baltimore Land and Improvement Co. a subsidiary of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
Several prominent citizens of Dekalb County formed the Garrett State Bank as a private institution. The Garrett Banking Company opened for business on Saturday April 16, 1892. Our first shareholder was H.N. Coffinberry and the first depositor was Rueben Sawvel. (The Bank continues the tradition of Saturday hours) The bank received a state charter on January 3, 1893, and in 1911 the name was changed to The Garrett State Bank.
The bank's first location was a room on the ground floor of the Wagner Opera House on Randolph Street in Garrett. During the early 1900's the bank bought a building and moved to the eastside of Randolph Street. On March 5, 1917 the bank moved into their newly erected Indiana limestone building on the corner of King and Randolph Streets, at the time it was the finest and most modern banking facilities in the entire area. The bank moved into its current Main Office in 1974, the building was erected on the site of the former Dr. Thompson medical office and home on West King Street. The Pine Valley Office was opened for business in 1989 one block North of Dupont Road on Coldwater Road and our Operations Center and South Office were opened in 1995 on south Randolph Street in Garrett.
Some notable associates of the Garrett State Bank are Charles W. Camp the first Mayor of Garrett who served as Cashier and President of the bank in its early years and later served as one of the first Banking Commissioners in the State of Indiana. Rev. A. Young a Catholic Priest also served as a board member and a term as the President of the Bank, he is also credited with founding the Sacred Heart Hospital in Garrett. Harry Brown served the bank for more than fifty years most of those as the President and helped the bank survive the banking crisis of the 1930's using conservative principles that are continued today.
Today the Garrett State Bank is a progressive community bank that has a full line of business and personal financial products. We specialize in residential mortgage loans and small to mid sized family owned business loans. Combining common sense decision making with modern products and services allows us to provide our clients the best from the past and present.