Farmer's Savings Bank was chartered by the late attorney Fred Rewoldt, Sr., in 1926, after he gathered $20,000 in capital from his family and friends. He began doing business in the present post office building in Frederika with his wife, Martha, and his sister, Adelia Rewoldt, taking deposits from the teller windows. C.W. Pennington, Levi Hagdeorn, William Boeckmann, Charles Ladage and John Wendt met monthly as original bank directors to approve expenses, loans and investments.
Current bank president Frederic Rewoldt remembers his dad sitting at the kitchen table with a published list of farms delinquent in property taxes slated for a sheriff's sale during the mid-1930's. The senior Rewoldt used a red pen to make an “x' by all those farms for which the bank held mortgages. On the morning of the sale, he went to the courthouse and paid the taxes due. Only one farm in the loan portfolio was lost during the Great Depression.
In 1941. bank clerks, Howard Wendt and Lorin Hamann resigned, and joined other young men who left their 120-acre family farms in Chickasaw and Bremer counties to serve their country in Europe and later, in the Pacific. Frederic Rewoldt, then age 14, was given his own key to the front door, taught how to calculate a daily balance and thus began his lifelong career. As WW II ended, veterans came home and went straight to work, borrowing money for tractors and combines. A computerized loan payment notice was unheard of, as dutiful customers came into the bank on their own to pay up the day the money was due.
The late Erwin O'Connell and his wife, Maxine (now Kalvig), were dedicated employees of the bank through the years when customers built ranch-style homes and took out loans for Chevrolet's. Current Assistant Cashier Dale Matthias joined the bank in 1975 witnessing inflation fueled by a land boom as area farms were bought and sold for higher and higher prices. During the 1980's, as commodity prices fell, many farmers flirted with bankruptcy and for the first time, the bank purchased federal deposit insurance to protect customers and assets.
Fred Rewoldt Sr. came into work every day until age 91 when he died in 1978. Severely hearing impaired, he took his place in an overstuffed lobby chair and delighted in watching his youngest customers pass checks from baby-sitting or baling hay to long-time clerk Shirley Mack. A fire destroyed the bank building on an early morning in December of 1987. Even as firemen were putting away their hoses, the vault was opened, the ledgers were recovered and business began in a nearby home. It was rebuilt in the same place the following year.
The staff includes: Cindy Bergmann Asmus, Patti Brandenburg, Kyle Bouska, Beth Wickham and Tamara Rosol. Mary Rewoldt, wife of the president, has played a vital role in the bank's success, assisting her husband and the staff with special events. The current board includes Dale Matthias, Marvin Schumacher of Denver, Mike Meyer of Sumner and Rewoldt's two children: F. John Rewoldt of Huxley and Margaret Jane (M.J.) Smith of Guttenberg.
The bank continues on Main Street in the town of 200, now financing personal computers, Jet-Ski's and log homes. Farmers still borrow money for seed, fertilizer, fuel and new combines. After 80 years, some things have not changed. Loans are made for diamond engagement rings and college tuition. Customers carefully unlock their safety deposit boxes to inspect wills and abstracts. Kids hurriedly empty their piggy banks onto the counter.
But now, the same bank, which was born in the age of the automobile, steps into the information era with online services to support its loyal customers.