Perkins marks 95th anniversary

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By The Staff

Perkins State Bank held a celebration in conjunction with the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce last Thursday to celebrate the bank's 95th anniversary. Various bank officials and members of the business and political community attended.

Bank president Frank Etheridge welcomed the group, which got to view memorabilia from the years that the bank had been in service.

Below is a history of the bank provided by bank officials:

History of Perkins State Bank

Roy P Perkins was born on September 15, 1888 in Alva, FL, a small town on the edge of the Everglades. As a boy, he worked at various jobs around Ft. Myers to help support his family. In 1907, Mr. Perkins entered Tampa Business College. He saved enough money to attend college by working as a dishwasher at a hotel on Useppa Island, making twenty dollars per month.

After completion of college, Mr. Perkins held banking jobs in Deland, Bartow, Tampa, and Cresent City. In 1913, he moved to Archer, FL and opened the Bank of Archer with $15,000 capital and help of E E Skipper, a former employer. Mr. Perkins once told a reporter that he selected Archer as the location of his bank form the advice of a bible sales man. While working in Cresent City, he gave the salesman a self-addressed post card and told him to be on the lookout for a good place to start a bank. Six months later, the battered post card returned stating that, "Archer with its town railroads, crate mill, foundry, and 1600 voting people would be a good place to start a bank." When the Archer bank opened, Archer was the home of two railroads, a few sawmills, cotton gins, turpentine stills, grist mills, a number of mercantile establishments, churches, but most importantly, NO banks. The Bank of Archer changed locations twice while in Archer. Of the three locations, only the last had a vault and none of them had lavatory facilities.

The Bank of Archer progressed steadily in its first years and during the boom of the twenties. Total deposits in 1921 amounted to almost $52,000. With the collapse of the Florida boom in the late twenties, bank failures became an epidemic throughout the area with banks in Bronson, Chiefland, Dunnellon, Williston, and even Gainesville falling by the way. Our bank, however, due to the sound policies of R P Perkins and the confidence displayed by our customers, survived this critical period without any panic withdrawals.

In 1928, Mr. W J Whitehurst became a Director of the bank. Mr. Whitehurst was a farmer, and later was elected as a County Commissioner of Alachua County, a position he held for about forty years. He served as Chairman of the Board of Directors from 1966-1979 and remained on the Board until his death in 1982.

In the early 1930's, citizens of Williston prevailed upon Perkins and other owners of the bank to move the business there. Williston had experienced two bank failures and was in dire need of banking services. Mr. L E Vause, publisher of the Williston Sun newspaper and Mr. LB McLeod, general contractor, were o principally responsible for making the move a reality. In May of 1933, the Bank of Archer moved to Williston (at midnight in a Model T Ford) and was renamed The Perkins State Bank. It was located at the corner of Main Street and Noble Avenue where a previous bank had been. The banking areas included Dunnellon, Chiefland, Yankeetown, Gulf Hammock, Otter Creek, Archer, Morriston, Raleigh, Montborook< Micanopy and Reddick, there being no banks in those surrounding towns. In 1935, Mr. LB McLoed constructed a new building especially for the bank East on Noble Avenue. This building, now the public library, was occupied by Perkins State bank from 1935 until 1980.

In 1940, Mr. VE Whitehurst joined the Board of Directors and serviced as Board member until his death in 1978. Mr. Perkins served as President of The Perkins State Bank, until 1962, and was Chairman of the Board until his death in 1966. He was followed as President by C G Petteway. Mr. Pertteway served as President from 1962 until he died in 1976. In 1970 Mr. VE (Elliot) Whitehurst, Jr became a member of the Board of Director.

After the death of Mr. Petteway, Mr. Roy P Perkins, Jr served as President until 1979. In February of that year, the Whitehurst family purchased the controlling stock of Perkins State Bank. Elliot /Whitehurst became Chairman of the Board and served in that capacity until 1996. Mr. Frank Etheridge was appointed Chief Executive Office and two new directors, Dan E Whitehurst and Quincy Ross, were added to the Board. Plans for the construction of our present premises were made and the building complete in November of 1980. In 1986, our newest office in Chiefland was completed and it has experienced excellent growth in the community.

Past Board Members

Roy P Perkins Sr 1913-1966

W J Whitehurst 1928-1979

V E Whithurst 1940-1978

C G Petteway 1959-1976

V E Whitehurst Jr 1963-1996

Virginia Whitener 1966-1989

Roy P Perkins Jr 1976-1979

Quincey Ross 1979-1992

Joseph Knauff 1980-1996

Reggie Ross 1988-1999

Branch openings:

Inglis opening 1994

Bronson opening 1998

Archer opening 2000

Our bank sustained substantial growth throughout its lifetime. Total assets in 1933 were 48,078.20. By 1958, assets had climbed to $1.5 million. In 1980 when the bank moved to its present location, total assets were $17 million, and as of 1988, its assets are above $64 million. Our banking service has been continuous since 1913, and August of this year will mark our 95th Anniversary. G Frank Etheridge is currently Chief Executive Office, and there are eight members on the Board of Directors, including Etheridge: Mike Doerr, Reese Rowland, Betty Ann Arnold, Louise Breeden, Dan Whitehurst, Arthur Sandlin and Pug Whitehurst.