Val Verde County Historical Commission
105 Kim, Del Rio, Texas 78840
(830) 734-2124; email@example.com
One of Val Verde County’s oldest and most influential institutions is the Del Rio Bank and Trust. Organized in 1910, the Del Rio Bank and Trust is one year older than the city government of the City of Del Rio and has served the Del Rio and Val Verde County communities for a century.
The Del Rio Bank and Trust was organized on August 10, 1910. The directors of the new institution were J.C. Clarkson, T.J. Ellis, John J. Foster, O.B. Franks, Sidney Turner, and F.W. Whitehead. The original shareholders, purchasing a total of 750 shares at $100 per share, included some of the most prominent members of the community and the Southwest Texas ranching and entrepreneurial communities.1 The most recognizable shareholder name is that of John Nance Garner, not yet presidential candidate or eight year Vice President of the United States (1933-1941, under President Franklin Roosevelt). The original shareholders also included Dan Murrah, kin of the first president of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers’ Association2; W.F. Whitehead and W.E. Whitehead, of the family that bought one of Del Rio’s oldest commercial properties and built the county museum, the Whitehead Memorial Museum, around it3; and Claude B. Hudspeth, who was serving in the State Senate at the time of the Bank’s creation, and later serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and as the namesake for Hudspeth County.4
The original site for the Bank and Trust was on the 600 block of South Main Street, in the heart of the town’s original business district. That 1910 building, on the southwest corner of South Main and Losoya Streets, has long been demolished. The Bank and Trust moved to larger facilities in 1939; the new site was a block away at 504 South Main. In 1957, the Bank and Trust remodeled this building to include drive-through banking, the first in Del Rio. More remodeling was completed in 1967. This larger structure is still standing and is currently occupied by another bank.5
Much has changed on Del Rio’s Main Street during the last century. The original Del Rio Bank and Trust building, shown on the right, is one of the many original buildings now gone.
Continued growth of the Bank and Trust prompted a special stockholders meeting in 1974. At that meeting, they stockholders voted unanimously to move the Bank and Trust to a site on Avenue F. Avenue F (now Veterans’ Boulevard) had become the principle road in Del Rio since the city street was also U.S. Highways 90 and 277. With the northward growth of the city, the new location was more centrally located within the larger post-World War II Del Rio. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held August 19, 1975, and the bank moved to its new facility during the summer of 1976. Del Rio Mayor Alfredo Gutierrez cut the ribbon at the entrance to the new facility on the morning of June 28; he was accompanied by the County Judge, the Laughlin Air Force Base Wing Commander, various other city and county officials, Bank personnel and a crowd of around one-thousand people. The new facility is about double the square footage of the old and includes a much larger drive-through capacity than the South Main location. This structure, at 1200 Veterans’ Boulevard, continues to be the main office today.6
Over the years more prominent Del Rioans have served on the Board of Directors or other official capacities. These include Roger Thurmond, a long-time State District Court Judge; Brian Montague, judge and author of the history about Del Rio’s all-important canal system; and Paul Poag, a Del Rio theater owner whose main theater is now owned by the City of Del Rio and used for live theatrical performances.7
The Bank and Trust serves the Del Rio community beyond its economic and financial roles. In addition, the Bank has displayed art exhibits by individual artists, groups, and the Del Rio Art League.8 The Bank and Trust has awarded student scholarships,9 supported local sports programs,10 and provided trophies for the winner of UIL events hosted by the San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District.11
The Bank also opens the doors of its Directors’ Room to social groups such as the New Century Club of Del Rio, Del Rio’s Mignonette Garden Club, the Del Rio Chapter of the American Cancer Society, and to community functions such as foster parent training conducted by the Texas Department of Human Resources and the Val Verde County Juvenile Probation Department.12 The Bank has also adopted Greenwood Park and covers cleaning and maintenance costs.13
The Bank and Trust continues to honor its ranching heritage to this day. The Bank support 4-H programs including the Val Verde 4-H Lamb Show & Sale,14 hunting events,15 rodeos, and art shows with ranching and rodeo themes.16
The Bank and Trust is responsible for the saving and restoration of one of Del Rio’s very few National Register sites. The building now remembered as the Cassinelli Gin House. This is one of the oldest in Del Rio. It was built in the early 1900s by members of Del Rio’s Italian community. However, after G.B. Cassinelli’s death, the structure suffered hard times and harder usage. The building was subjected to sheriff’s sales on more than one occasion, occupied by homeless persons or transients, and gutted by fire more than once. When rumors of a possible sale and demolition of the historic structure reached Bank President S.W. Cauthorn, he prompted the Bank and Trust to purchase the property and restore the building to functionality. Thanks to Cauthorn and the Bank, the Cassinelli Gin House stands today and remains in use in South Del Rio.17
With the exception of a few years in the 1960s, the Bank & Trust has been owned by community members, and is locally owned today. Individual stockholders, from around Del Rio and across Val Verde County, owned the Bank & Trust from its beginning to 1964. At that time, an organization named Shannon Trust bought controlling interest in the company. However, that organization had to divest itself of bank ownership, within three years, because of a change in Internal Revenue Service regulations. Once again, community members bought stock, bringing ownership back into Val Verde County. A new form of ownership was formed in 1980. The ownership essentially remained the same, but the form of ownership changed. Some of the shareholders created Westex Bancorp Inc. Shareholders of bank stock traded that for stock in Westex at a ratio of one-to-one, so all the stockholders owned exactly the same amount of the new company which owns the Bank & Trust. The new corporate structure kept ownership in the same hands but allowed the company to purchase other banks, in particular the First State Bank in Brackettville, Kinney County and the Sutton County National Bank (both in neighboring counties). Both were operated under their own names until a decade ago when both were converted into branches of the Bank & Trust. The Bank & Trust now also operates a branch in San Angelo.18
The main offices of the Del Rio Bank and Trust were moved to this structure on Del Rio’s Veterans Boulevard in 1975.
The Del Rio Bank and Trust is one of Del Rio’s oldest and continuously operating institutions. The Bank & Trust has survived two world wars, the Great Depression, the banking crisis of the 1980s, and the current Great Recession. Few institutions have been in Val Verde for a longer time. Older than the City and school district, the Bank and Trust is part of the bedrock on which the Del Rio community is built. A century after its organization, the Del Rio Bank and Trust and the Val Verde County Historical Commission are ready to place a historical marker for this historic company.
Bill Cauthorn, personal interview with Doug Braudaway, November 1, 2011.
Del Rio Bank and Trust. Board of Directors. Minutes Books.
Del Rio News-Herald, noted as DRNH in the footnotes. Clippings from various dates. Most of the clippings are collected in a group of scrapbooks currently on display at the main building of the Bank and Trust (during the centennial year).
Texas Historical Commission. Atlas. Entries for Val Verde County historical markers and historical designations.
Texas State Historical Association. New Handbook of Texas. 1996.
Val Verde County 4-H, Lamb Show & Sale, show booklets, 1952-1955, 1957-1958.
1 Del Rio Bank and Trust, Board of Directors, Minutes Books.
2 See “Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers’ Association,” a historical marker application by the Val Verde County Historical Commission, on file at the Texas Historical Commission.
3 See “Old Perry Building,” a National Register of Historic Places application by the Val Verde County Historical Commission, on file at the Texas Historical Commission.
4 Texas State Historical Association, “New Handbook of Texas,” 1996. (Interestingly, Hudspeth’s father H.S. Hudspeth served in the Civil War in Hood’s Texas Brigade. Val Verde County is home to a historical marker about John Bell Hood in his younger days in the Army in West Texas, “Hood’s Devil’s River Fight,” a historical marker application by the Val Verde County Historical Commission. See also “Claude Hudspeth”, a historical marker application by the Hudspeth County Historical Commission on file at the Texas Historical Commission.)
5 “Del Rio Bank and Trust Co. Holds Open House in New Home Monday,” DRNH, June 27, 1976, page 1; “Location Is Third For Del Rio B&T,” DRNH, June 27, 1976, page 1; Advertising in the Del Rio News-Herald, June 3, 1957 and June 6, 1957.
6 Del Rio Bank and Trust, Board of Directors, Minutes Books; Dan Bus, “Del Rio Bank and Trust Breaks Ground for Building,” DRNH, August 19, 1975, page 1; Jeanelle Bryant, “Large Crowd Attends Opening Of New Del Rio Bank and Trust,” DRNH, June 28, 1976, page 1; “Del Rio Bank and Trust Co. Holds Open House in New Home Monday,” DRNH, June 27, 1976, page 1. The Bank made a point of hiring local tradesmen and purchasing locally produced building materials whenever possible. “Cauthorn Explains Reasons for Move,” DRNH, June 27, 1976, page 2.
7 Del Rio Bank and Trust, Board of Directors, Minutes Books. Also, see “Canal System of Del Rio,” a historical marker application by the Val Verde County Historical Commission, on file at the Texas Historical Commission.
8 Advertising, Del Rio News-Herald, October 31, 1975; “Seven Artists To Show Work at Bank & Trust,” DRNH, undated newspaper clipping, @October 1976; “Art Show Opening At Bank & Trust,” DRNH, @February 17, 1978, [no page number]; “Pruitt Art Exhibit Extend Week,” DRNH, November 26, 1978, page 14A; “Art League show opens,” DRNH, February 16, 1986, [no page number]; “Bob Butler on Display,” DRNH, ad dated August 3, 1986, [no page number]; “Del Rio Bank & Trust Proudly Presents Tina Szajko,” DRNH, November 16, 1986, [no page number]; a variety of undated newspaper clippings and newspaper advertising published during the 1970s and 1980s.
9 “Bank Awards $1,000 Scholarships to Two,” DRNH, [no date, @ 1975].
10 “Gold Glitter,” DRNH, June 16, 1978, page A9.
11 “Trophies,” DRNH, February 5, 1986, [no page number]; “Trophies For Academic Skill,” DRNH, [undated clipping @February 1990, no page number]. 12 “Foster Homes Meet,” DRNH, April 3, 1978, [no page number]; “Garden Club has slide program,” DRNH, [undated clipping @April 1988, no page number]; Ad in DRNH, [undated clipping @ April 1990, no page number].
13 D.D. Turner, “Bank, Lions helping enhance city parks,” DRNH, [undated clipping @ July 1990, no page number].
14 Val Verde County 4-H, “Lamb Show & Sale, show booklet, February 9, 1952; “Lamb Show & Sale, show booklet, February 14, 1953; “Lamb Show & Sale, show booklet, January 30, 1954; “Lamb Show & Sale, show booklet, January 29, 1955; “Lamb Show & Sale, show booklet, January 26, 1957; “Lamb Show & Sale, show booklet, January 25, 1958; “Four-H Dress Revue To Be Held May 6 at Bank & Trust,” DRNH, [undated article @April 1978].
15 Carl Guys, “Bankers, Anglers sponsor contest,” DRNH, [undated clipping @November 1986, no page number]; “Deer Contest,” ad in DRNH, November 9, 1986, [no page number].
16 David Builta, “Superbull art show opens Monday,” DRNH, April 24, 1987, [no page number]; “Art show, sale opens Monday,” DRNH, April 26, 1987, [no page number]; “Western art show begins Monday,” DRNH, [undated clipping @April 1989, no page number].
17 “Restoring a Del Rio landmark,” Del Rio News-Herald, January 31, 1982, pages C1-C2. See “Cassinelli Gin House,” a National Register of Historic Places application by the Val Verde County Historical Commission, on file at the Texas Historical Commission. The building is also a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.
18 Bill Cauthorn, personal interview, November 1, 2011.