Photographs

Farmers and their banks

It struck me as I stood in downtown Rushville, Indiana, photographing the Farmers Trust Company building that I have photographed a number of bank buildings in my travels with Farmers or Farmer’s in the name. Here are all of the Farmers bank building photographs I’ve made that I could find. All of these banks are defunct, and house other banks and even other businesses today. Now I’ll be sure to photograph Farmers/Farmer’s bank buildings wherever I see them.

Rushville, IN
Farmers Trust Company, Rushville, IN. Pentax ME SE, 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M, Foma Fomapan 200 @ EI 125, Ilford ID-11 stock, 2021.
Farmer's State Bank
Farmer’s State Bank, New Carlisle, IN. Kodak EasyShare Z730, 2008.
Farmer's Bank
Farmer’s National Bank, Sheridan, IN. Yashica-12, Kodak Tri-X (x-6/1981) @EI 200, L110 Dilution B, 2020.
Downtown Bardstown
Farmers Bank & Trust Co., Bardstown, KY. Nikon FA, 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 AI-s Zoom Nikkor, Agfa Vista 200, 2019.

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14 thoughts on “Farmers and their banks

  1. It’s like the number of insurance companies with Farmers or Farm in their names. There has been a lot of consolidation in the last 30 years but several are still around.

    As I recall, Indiana prohibited banks from operating across county lines until the early or mid 80s, which explains the number of small, long defunct banks here.

  2. Unless I’m remembering incorrectly, the plethora of businesses with “Farmers’ ” in the name was a result of the Great Depression, wherein farmers lost confidence (to put it mildly) in a lot of institutions. Thus co-operative farmers’ businesses began, with many a firm just co-opting the naming practice to go along for the ride.
    Where I grew up there was a co-op called “GLF” and the joke was it stood for “Get Lost Farmer”. It later became Agway, with no change in policy. :p

  3. Andy Umbo says:

    Ditto Wisconsin, lots of small town “farmer” banks, many turned into great bars and businesses because the buildings were so well built! I even recently read a story on a substantial corner bank in a city about 30 miles outside of Green Bay that became a gallery, and all the art was hung in the vault area, to be closed and locked at night!

    Had a buddy after college that got into the banking business, and he was saying a lot of those small rural banks by then were owned by major urban banks in Milwaukee, but they kept all the names and signage etc. the same for the communities to have a local component. Such a different attitude than today, where the marketing department would tell you the association with a major urban bank would be a “plus”, and tell you to convert signage right away!

    To J.P.’s point, I don’t think any laws like that existed in Wisconsin. In rural areas, you could find yourself with no banks at all if there wasn’t enough income in a county to make it worth while to have a county specific private bank! Sounds like “protectionism”.

  4. Interesting the changes over the past few years. Now I think the big banks are far too big, and have far too much power. I wonder what will come next as customers look for alternatives?

    • Andy Umbo says:

      Steve, the Credit Union financial institution is booming where I live (and been around for decades). If you don’t have much money, which most of the people that live in my building don’t, the Credit Union is the way to go. No matter how little money you have in there: no fees; higher interest rates on savings accounts, same insurance on your savings. Some will even negotiate with a car dealer for you and take delivery on your car if you’re financing through them, and if you’re buying used, it’ll be points cheaper than the dealership financial arm. They also have “no fee” ATM’s nationally from every other credit union in the country, better than my regional bank!

      Big one here is Educators Credit Union, but you don’t have to be a teacher any more, and UW Credit Union, associated with the University of Wisconsin. I actually photographed an annual report for them a number of years ago. The only downside is that if you do a lot of business in other countries, they don’t have seamless services like a lot of the international banks like Citi.

  5. We have two nice old bank buildings in Pesotum that bit the dust during the depression. I imagine with farmland selling at $10,000 and acre that farmers don’t have much trouble borrowing money these days. I think a lot of people these days don’t realize that most farms in the Midwest these days are multi-million dollar operations. Where I live in the country just about every house was a farm 50 years ago. Today maybe one house in ten houses a farmer. Much of the land around here is farmed by operations that are as much as a hundred miles away. We still have some land that we rent to a local guy, however if he retires we might have trouble finding another local guy to take over.

    • We still have this fantasy of the family farm here in the US, but I do know that they’re mostly gone, replaced by larger operations — not necessarily big corporate, but def. consolidated.

      • Andy Umbo says:

        Ditto in Wisconsin, but a lot of the consolidation happened with farmers growing their own businesses rather than being taken over by corporations. If they sell, they’re selling large holdings because they’re retiring and no one else can afford the land. I remember thinking during the “Farm Aid” era, that you didn’t hear much about it in Wisconsin because farmers had been increasing their acreage and consolidating their holding for years here already, old Germans doing what needed to be done to run a business, and not getting “caught out”.

        The big thing here now is the family dairy farm. People want tax money to support non-support-able small dairy farms because they didn’t expand when they should have. Sorry, no rewards for bad business. I couldn’t run a small studio in my market area anymore either, that doesn’t mean I should get tax money to keep something running that’s economically unfeasible.

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