Farmers and Merchants Bank

Farmers and Merchants Bank at the corner of Sprigg and Good Hope, with its strong brick walls and huge columns, looked like a bank should look. Dad had an office for his construction company on the second floor of the building, and we always thought it was neat that we had a key to the front door of the place.

My first savings account was in that bank. I was really disappointed that it didn’t look like Scrooge McDuck’s Money Bin. And, I was even more disappointed when I found out that they didn’t keep all the money I gave them in a separate place so I’d get back the same coins I gave them. When I got my paper route at 12, Dad set up a checking account for me, and I wrote checks from that day on. I carried a copy of my birth certificate for ID.

Like Cher is Cher, Dutch was just Dutch

The fellow sitting in front of the bank is Dutch, a laborer who worked for Dad. Long before Britney and Paris and Cher and the other one-name celebs, Dutch was Dutch. I know he HAD a last name, but he was always just Dutch. Now that I think of it, most of the core workers were one-namers. There was Sylvester the mechanic, Fred (Robinson) the heavy equipment operator, Doc the carpenter and Dutch and Peewee, the laborers.

I’m not sure where he and Dad hooked up, but he’d keep Dutch on the payroll well into the winter, after all the construction jobs had wrapped up for the season. He gave him his own hammer and his own shovel, and you’d have thought they were gold-plated.

Dad didn’t like union jobs

Dad generally didn’t like to bid on union jobs. He had no patience with all the jurisdictional stuff that went along with them. “If I truck a dragline to a union jobsite,” he griped one day, “I have to have a Teamster¬† drive the truck. When it gets there, I have to have a laborer lay down timbers to back the dragline off the truck; I have to have a union crane operator run the dragline and an “oiler” who stands around in case it needs any kind of maintenance. If I’m in a non-union area, I can get by with two men – one if he’s really good.”

Anyway, Dad came home from work one day really ticked off. “Some union carpenter threatened to shut down the whole job because he caught a laborer – Dutch – carrying a hammer on his belt. When I told Dutch he was going to have to take it off, I thought the man would start crying.”

10 Replies to “Farmers and Merchants Bank”

    1. Brother Mark checked in this morning: “Talked with Mother this morning and she said that his last name was Schuessler or something like that. And we together remembered that he lived in a room above Unnerstalls there on Good Hope. That might be how Dad met him in the first place since the bank was so close to there.”

      Dutch was the nicest guy in the world. Hard-working, kind and always cheerful. I never heard him say a negative or unkind word in all the years I knew him.

  1. I believe it was The Salvation Army that bought the old bank building, used it for a few years, and then had it torn down and replaced it with a more “modern” structure.

    1. Susan,

      You’re right. Watch this space. Since Toni raised the question, I’ll have a photo of that corner up later today.

      I just want to pull together a few factoids about the bank’s history.

  2. Dutch was such a classic nickname of the era. My Uncle Morris Doughty who was born in C.G. was also Dutch.

    1. Dad used to talk about the “Dutchmen,” particularly about folks who were from the Altenburg area. He would say that you could always tell if it was a Dutchman’s farm because Germans like a place for everything and everything in its place. Those farms, then, had lots of neatly maintained outbuildings.

      It wasn’t until a handful of years ago that it dawned on me that the original word wasn’t “Dutch,” as in “Hollander,” it was “Deutche,” as in “German.”

  3. My Mother worked in banking all her life. She started working at the old First National Bank on Main Street after graduation from Central (35) and then went to Farmers and Merchants and then retired from Cape Mercantile over a 40 year span.

    I hated to see the old First National on Main Street go. Ken, did you ever find the old pics of it? The old Farmers was unique also.

  4. 100 years ago: April 8, 1912

    The Farmers & Merchants Bank of Cape Girardeau closed a deal Saturday for the purchase of a very valuable piece of property, upon which it will build a handsome bank building; the property acquired is on the southwest corner of Good Hope and Sprigg streets, now occupied by the Dietiker restaurant.

  5. When I was five or six years old or so, my mom would
    take me with her when she went into town to shop for
    groceries, drop off dry cleaning with Mr. Evans, downtown, and go by the bank. I remember being fascinated with the aerial ( ? ) photo of Cape
    in 1890 than hung over the couch by the door, and the huge steel vault. I found out later that my great, great grandfather, George Jacob Keller, was one of
    the founders of Farmers and Merchants, and had served as president and vice president of the bank. One of America’s early immigrant success stories, if do brag a little : he had to leave school at 16 to work on the family farm when his father died …Would love to see some more photos of the bank and the neighborhood around it ..

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