Union Bank

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UNION BANK OF ILLINOIS:
A BRIEF HISTORY

BY RONALD W. WALLACE

 

Upwards of ninety-five years ago an aggressive entrepreneur, August Schlafly, brought together a small group of East St. Louis business men for the purpose of organizing a banking company in that city. Serving as the spearhead in establishing new businesses, especially banks, was not new to this enterprising Swiss immigrant. In fact, the idea of sponsoring a new bank in East St. Louis followed his leading role in the start-up of banks in the communities of Carlyle, Breese and Alton, and one in Missouri.

253-banknote.tif (74018 bytes) Having raised the requisite $25,000 capital, Sch1afly and his band of organizers were granted authority by the State of Illinois to commence banking operations in the City of East St. Louis on October 1, 1901 as Union Trust and Savings Bank. One week later the bank was granted the further authority to administer trusts, estates, and related fiduciary and agency activities.

The bank was opened for business in a building located on the Southeast comer of Collinsville and Missouri Avenues and remained at that site until 1921 when construction of a much larger and more functional banking facility located on the Northeast comer of the same intersection was completed. The new site, 200 Collinsville Avenue, continues to serve as the bank's principle full service branch in East St. Louis.

Schlafly well understood the value of good corporate citizenship and believed it important to work with elected officials to assure a sound fiscal municipal government. A prime example of this spirit occurred in 1914 when the city, strapped for money, was beset by claimants seeking immediate payment of amounts owed them. Recognizing the city's plight, and not wishing to see it forced to take unwise actions in an effort to meet the demands for payment, he personally advanced $70,000 to the creditors against their claims upon the city.

August Schlafly served as the bank's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer until his death, circa 1921. He was succeeded by his son, Paul A. Schlafly, who shepherded the bank until his death in 1972. The younger Schlafly, most keen to Aluminum Company of America's operations in East St. Louis, traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and boldly approached a key member of the famous Mellon family, which controlled that company, and persuaded him to designate Union Trust as its local depository.

Since its inception, the bank has undergone several charter changes. In addition to the 1921 name change, it was converted to a national bank in 1947 and became known as Union National Bank of East St. Louis. It remained a national association until 1977 when it was again chartered by the State of Illinois under the name of Union Bank of East St. Louis. 253-s&l.tif (79928 bytes)

In 1991, as a result of having expanded operations to areas outside of East St. Louis, the bank took its current name, Union Bank of Illinois.

In 1989 a decision was reached to move the bank's headquarters location from East St. Louis to Swansea, Illinois, while retaining full services at the East St. Louis location. In 1990 the bank acquired the Belleville-based Frontier Federal Savings Bank and in 1995 it constructed a new branch in O'Fallon. Illinois. Union Bank now has over $75 million in assets with in excess of $6 million in capital.

Those who have served the bank as President, in addition to August and Paul Schlafly, include Robert Sterling, C. J. Rogers, Louis Engelhard. Ron Wallace, James A. Coontz and, most recently, Albert J. O'Brien.

 

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