While waiting at a traffic signal yesterday, I noticed there was a First National Bank located catercorner at my left. Then a childhood question popped into my head–“Why are there so many banks with the number one in their names?”
A friend used to joke that if he ever started a bank, he wanted to name it “Second National Bank”. I laughed, because the notion seemed so funny. Years later, the Internet came along and I was able to search for odd notions like my friend’s bank names.
It turns out that there is a large bank in Ohio named “Second National Bank”, and it has several branch offices, too.
What about a “Third National Bank”? There is one in Sedalia, Missouri that also has branch offices. There’s also mention of an early Third National Bank in Cumberland, Maryland–the building is in the National Register of Historic Places. Plus, there was one in Rockford, Illinois.
OK, what about any “Fourth National Banks”? One turns up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There was one in Wichita, Kansas also, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Another one turned up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There are Fourth National Banks in Atlanta, Georgia and St. Louis, Missouri. Perhaps there are more, elsewhere.
I was on a roll. Is there a Fifth National Bank? Yes, there’s at least one in New York City. I stumbled across a peculiarly named bank in Ohio called the “Fifth Third Bank” Evidently it started out as the “Queen City Bank” of Cincinnati. In 1882, the name was changed to “The Fifth National Bank”. At around the same time, there was a “Third National Bank” in Cincinnati. In 1908, the two banks merged and became the “Fifth Third Bank”.
As far as I know, there is no longer a “Sixth National Bank”, but court documents show there was one in New York in the 1800s. There was also one in Philadelphia.
You’d think there would be several banks listed as “Seventh National Bank” because of the lucky number aspect. However, I could only find one historical bank in New York that was granted its charter in 1865. That bank also issued its own currency. The number seven also shows up as the “Seventh Street Savings Bank” of Washington, DC…but I don’t count that as a Seventh Bank of any sort.
There were at least two historical “Eighth National Banks”. There was one in Philadelphia, and one in New York. Both old banks also issued their own currency at one time.
The “Tenth National Bank” no longer exists, either. It used to have interesting connections before it failed in the 1870s. Wikipedia says it was located in New York. Financier Jay Gould had controlling interest in the firm and “Boss” William Tweed sat on its board of directors.
The Numbered National Banks evidently don’t go beyond ten. I stopped searching after eighteen. There is an obscure, fictional “Twelfth National Bank of Station Square” that appears in the “Sonic X” comic series.
Aside from these arcane exceptions, Banks named after cities, states, and vicinities are numerous. The most popular bank names are those that contain the number “one” or “first”.