History of the Bank of Chestnut

The Bank of Chestnut was formed as a private bank by Michael Leimbach in 1902 in the same general location as it exists at the present time. 

In May of 1919, Michael Leimbach, J.T. Kretzinger, Louis F. Leimbach, Elmer M. Leimbach and M.B. Drake submitted an application to the State of Illinois to organize as an Illinois State Bank with the name Bank of Chestnut.  The business to be carried on in Chestnut, County of Logan, State of Illinois- a town not exceeding a population of 285 persons.  The Bank was organized with 400 shares of capital stock with a total of $40,000.00 and $7,000.00 surplus.  The Bank building was purchased at a price of $2,600.00 and the safe and vault were purchased for an additional $6,200.00.  Michael Leimbach was the first Bank President and was succeeded by his grandson, Michael Warren Drake in 1944.  John Drake, the great grandson of the Bank’s first President, is the current Bank President.

On September 27, 1957 the Bank of Chestnut was robbed at 10:00 am.  The robbers made off with $2,964.00 and there were no injuries.  The FBI captured the robbers about four years later in conjunction with another robbery, but no funds were ever recovered.

On August 26, 1965, after noticing water damage in the vault, it was discovered that a hole had been cut in the roof above the vault which resulted in rain from overnight seeping in.  Apparently, robbers had removed brick work and concrete but apparently gave up on their endeavors once they discovered they couldn’t cut through the vault ceiling.  Authorities kept the bank under surveillance for several nights but no one returned to make another attempt.  It was never determined who had attempted to break into the vault.

The most recent robbery was in 1991.  A masked man entered the bank with a firearm and took off with the money after locking up the employees and a customer.  After numerous leads, the police were never able to capture the suspected robbers or recover the money.

When the Bank first began doing business, "downtown Chestnut" was bustling with activity. There were the stock yards, the addition of the Hatchery in the 1920's, a string of restaurants through the years- starting in 1941 with Obery's Restaurant and Grocery, then Chapman's Restaurant, which became Bahn's Restaurant in 1971. The last restaurant/grocery located at the "end of the block" in Chestnut closed its' doors after a fire in 2006. To date, we have the Chestnut Family Restaurant located in the heart of down town (middle of the block) serving our community.

The hotel that was located next to the east of the Bank was demolished after a fire destroyed it around 1922. In the fall of 1967, the Bank had purchased the lot and began expansion and remodeling. With the acquisition of two lots/buildings to the east, the Bank was able to add the drive up lane and window. The expansion project doubled the existing size of the bank. An open house was held on October 15, 1968 and approximately 450 people came to tour the additions and changes. The Bank of Chestnut doubled in size again in 2000 with the addition off the "back" of the bank. This allowed for more office space, storage and a large meeting room. To date, this is the most recent cosmetic change to the Bank.