Five years before statehood, a group of men headed by R.F. Ellinger chartered The Noble State Bank, Noble, Oklahoma, and held the first stockholders’ meeting on May 22, 1902. The bank opened for business on July 3, 1902.
In the ensuing 100 plus years, the bank has had two name changes and only two additional controlling ownerships. Reece Ray purchased the bank in 1948, and Ray Mason and Kenneth King purchased the bank in 1969. Mr. King passed away in 2004 and his daughter, Kim King, is now following in his footsteps as Chairman and CEO.
In 1908, the State of Oklahoma passed a guarantee law bill that would insure banks, much as the FDIC does today. Mr. Ellinger was quoted as saying that the charge would penalize prudent banks, and he chose to sue the State of Oklahoma. The case was taken twice to the Supreme Court of the United States. The final majority decision was written in 1911 by Oliver Wendell Holmes, then the Chief Justice of the Court. His decision stated that the Noble State Bank did not have to pay the levy. At that point, Mr. Ellinger and other board members chose to convert the bank to a national charter, with the name of “The First National Bank of Noble”. Its appointed directors were C.F. Wantland, J.B. Dudley, J.C. Burkett, Thomas Standifer and R.F. Ellinger.
In 1931, Mr. Ellinger died, but the bank was never closed. His wife ran the bank until it was sold in 1948. As a note of interest, Mr. Gene Rainbolt, Chairman of the Board of BancFirst, began his banking career in the late 1950’s at First State Bank.
The bank had total assets of only $1,640,000 when Ray Mason and Kenneth King purchased it on December 12, 1969. In 1972, Mr. Mason became President of the Case State Bank in Stonewall, Oklahoma, and Mr. King continued to run the bank in Noble.
The people of the bank have made it successful. When the bank was purchased in 1969, there were only three employees besides the President, Reece Ray.
In 1974, Chelsea “Chuck” Burkett followed in his grandfather’s footsteps, J.C. Burkett, when he, along with Jack Blair, became directors of the bank. Louis de Stwolinski retired in January of 2003 after serving 50 years as a director.
Throughout its years, First State Bank has been a major force in the development of Noble and Cleveland County. Mr. King led the bank in its commitment to civic improvement. His proudest moment was the dedication of the new Noble Public Library. This was the result of a year-long effort in which the community raised over $450,000.
The bank continues to serve the area well, and lives up to its slogan, “Over 100 Years of Commitment to Country, Community and Customers”.
image: Noble State Bank, 1906