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      In the northeast basement room of the "apartment" controlled by the
American Society of Arts in the New York Institution or Old Alms House, The
Bank for Savings began operation on Saturday evening at six o'clock, July
3rd, 1819, remaining open until nine, and on Mondays from 11 A.M. to 2
P.M.--six hours a week.
      Saturday's first depositor, Account No. 1, was a physician, Dr. Samuel
HENRY, residing at 110 Cherry Street, and his "reference" to the Bank was
Zachariah LEWIS.
      The second depositor, Account No. 2, was a Custom House officer,
living in Gold Street.
      The third account was an "ostler" (hostler), whose address was simply
New York, and whose reference was John PINTARD.
      The fourth depositor, Account No. 4, was a domestic, living on Pearl
Street, and recommended by General Clarkson.
      The tenth depositor, Account No. 10, was Mr. William BAYARD,
President, whose address, as given, was "Counting House."
       The twenty-fifth depositor, Account No. 25, was that of a widow, who
made remark when opening her account, "This cash came out of the Savings
Bank of Bristol, England, and her remarks were recorded in the old "test book."
        Seven of the Bank's trustees also opened accounts that first banking day. 
They were:

Jacob SHERRED of Broad Street
John PINTARD of Wall Street
Duncan P. CAMPBELL of Broadway
Zachariah LEWIS  of Broad Street
Thomas EDDY of Pearl Street
William WILSON of Dey Street
Jeremiah THOMPSON of Park Place

      John E. HYDE, trustee, also opened three accounts, for his three children.

      Two depositors, recommended by William BAYARD, gave their address as
Leroy, Bayard & Company, evidently employees of the business firm of which
Mr. Bayard was head.
      On this first banking day from eighty depositors the trustees had the
satisfaction of receiving the sum of $2, 807. Among these eighty depositors
the following "occupations" were named:

Physician (1)
Custom House Officers  (3)
Ostler  (1)
Domestics  (5)
President  (1)
Cook  (1)
Spinsters  (2)
Leather-Store  (1)
Boot-Cleaner  (1)
Clerks  (4)
Sash-maker  (1)
Porters  (3)
Teacher of Deaf and Dumb  (1)
Laborer  (1)
Currier  (1)
Carpenters  (4)
Tailors  (2)
Shoemakers  (2)
Hatter  (1)
Tobacconist  (1)
Printers  (2)
Chairmaker  (1)
Book-binder  (1)
Merchants  (4)
Boatman  (1)
Trustees  (7)
Cooper  (1)
No Occupation  (26)
           Total:  (80)

      It is interesting to note that some of the accounts opened on this
first banking day are still open on the books of the Bank. The following
list gives three of these accounts. It also includes twenty-three other
accounts, all dating from the first year of the Bank's operation (1819)
which are also still open. Account No. 738 and Account No. 1216 are not only
"open," but active."

Name of Depositor:      Sanford Cobb
Account #:                      17
Date Account was opened:  July 3rd, 1819
Occupation:          none listed
Name of Depositor:      Mary E. Ash
Account #:                      34
Date Account was opened:  July 3rd, 1819
Occupation:          none listed

Name of Depositor:       Robert Grant
Account #:                     55
Date Account was opened:  July 3rd, 1819
Occupation:          none listed

Name of Depositor:      Wm. I. Cantetto
Account #                      91
Date Account was opened:  July 5th, 1819
Occupation:          Soda water store

Name of Depositor:       Mary Lyall
Account #                      97
Date Account was opened:  July 5th, 1819
Occupation:           Tailoress

Name of Depositor:      William Johnson
Account #                    101
Date Account was opened:  July 5th, 1819
Occupation:            Merchant

Name of Depositor:       John Johnson
Account #                     107
Date Account was opened:  July 5th, 1819
Occupation:            Printer

Name of Depositor:      Catherine Culbertson
Account #                     141
Date Account was opened:   July 10, 1819
Occupation:             none listed

Name of Depositor:       Margaret Williams
Account #                     164
Date Account was opened:   July 10th, 1819
Occupation:             washerwoman

Name of Depositor:      Catherine Tilt
Account  #                      191
Date Account was opened:    July 10th, 1819
Occupation:             Ladies' Maid

Name of Depositor:        Phillis Slater
Account  #                       260
Date Account was opened:    July 12th, 1819
Occupation:             none listed

Name of Depositor:         Fanny Hepburn
Account  #                       266
Date Account was opened:    July 12th, 1819
Occupation:             Domestic

Name of Depositor:         Thomas S. Richards
Account  #                        307
Date Account was opened:    July 12th, 1819
Occupation:              none listed

Name of Depositor:          Charle Thorne, Jr.
Account  #                        356
Date Account was opened:   July 17th, 1819
Occupation:              none listed

Name of Depositor:           Elizabeth Farquhar
Account #                          362
Date Account was opened:    July 17th, 1819
Occupation:              none listed

Name of Depositor:           John Peacock
Account  #                        370
Date Account was opened:     July 17th, 1819
Occupation:              none listed

Name of Depositor:          Adam (no surname given)
Account  #                        391
Date Account was opened:       July 17th, 1819
Occupation:               (colored)  Domestic

Name of Depositor:         Amanda N. Kellogg
Account  #                         418
Date Account was opened:        July 17th, 1819
Occupation:               none listed
Name of Depositor:          Margaret Hutchings
Account  #                         437
Date Account was opened:        July 17th, 1819
Occupation:               washerwoman

Name of Depositor:           Elizabeth C. Post
Account  #                         473
Date Account was opened:         July 24th, 1819
Occupation:                 none listed

Name of Depositor:           Catherine Harkins
Account  #                         487
Date Account was opened:         July 24th, 1819
Occupation:                 (born May, 1819. To remain until of age.)

Name of Depositor:            Catherine Brinkerhoff
Account: #                            540
Date Account was opened:          July 24th, 1819
Occupation:                   none listed

Name of Depositor:              Eliza Elston
Account #                            576
Date Account was opened:           July 24th, 1819
Occupation:                  Domestic

Name of Depositor:               John S. Thorne
Account  #                           738
Date Account was opened:            Aug. 16th, 1819
Occupation:                  none listed

Name of Depositor:               George A. Thorne
Account  #                           741
Date Account was opened:             Aug. 16th, 1819
Occupation:                  none listed

Name of Depositor:               Joseph F. Darling
Account  #                           1216
Date Account was opened:              Nov. 6th, 1819
Occupation:                  none listed

      Twenty-four of these accounts are classed as "dormant,"
accounts whose owners have taken no action concerning them for twenty years,
either by making deposits, withdrawing money, or presenting their pass-books
to have the interest credited. These original depositors, of course, are
long since dead. Their heirs, if any, do not know of the money lying in the
Bank waiting for them. The Bank has not been able to trace the owners of the
money, which it has thus held in trust for more than a century.
      On the list just recorded is that, for example, of Account No. 391,
Adam, designated on the Bank's ledger page as "a black boy in the family of
John Mowatt of Pearl Street." Adam opened his account on July 17th, 1819,
with a deposit of three dollars. For eleven years he added to it from time
to time. Then, on October 2nd, 1830, Adam drew out all but one dollar and
vanished. Northing has been heard of him since. This is all that can be said
of these "dormant" accounts. The depositors have vanished. Nothing has been
heard of them for twenty years or more, but the Bank never forgets and hopes
ultimately to locate the owners of these funds.
      There is naturally romance connected with the existence of these
accounts. These depositors have vanished, leaving no trace; they have
changed their names, perhaps; they have hidden their passbooks and have
forgotten to tell the hiding place as they lay on their deathbeds; or they
have been lost at sea or fallen by the way in travel far from their former
homes. These "dormant" accounts always awaken the thought of the tragedies
or at least the mysteries of life.
      Sometimes the depositor or heir is found by the Bank, perhaps in some
distant part of the world, and the money comes as a blessing out of the
skies to some poor relative in need. Often the depositor is found by
correspondence but will not take the trouble to send to the Bank to claim
the money, feeling the amount is too small.  Sometimes the "dormant" account
is that of some known character prominent in public or professional life,
but he, too, will not feel it worth while to search for his bank book, send
to the Bank and secure his money. Of course there never comes a time when
the money reverts to the Bank or to the state, though many efforts have been
made by legislatures to compel savings banks to transfer their "dormant"
funds to the state treasury.
      What is probably one of the oldest live savings accounts in the United
States is Account No. 738, which was opened to the credit of a new-born
child, John S. Thorne. He never drew out the money, and after his death at a
ripe old age, his heirs kept the account alive by presenting the passbook to
have the interest credited. On April 29th, 1931, the Bank took over this
account by assignment. It then stood as follows:

                                  ACCOUNT  NO. 738

August 16th, 1819             $10.00
August  26th, 1820                 5.00
Interest credited, to
April 1st, 1831               $2,981.03


      The problem of lost books was a real one very early in the history of
the Bank. In December, 1819, this resolution appears on the records:
      "RESOLVED, That, in all cases in which the book of a depositor shall
have been lost and in which all legal proof of the loss shall have been
presented to the Attending Committee, said Committee are hereby authorized
to issue a second book of the same number, with all the sums which stand in
the books of the institution to the credit of such depositor written
thereon, accompanied with the remark that the new book is a Duplicate, the
first having been lost as appears by an affidavit of the depositor taken on
(date to be recorded). . . . ."
      At this time, 1829 it was found that to issue a duplicate book in the
case of a "lost book" was a dangerous practice, the cause of trouble and the
occasion of possible fraud. Accordingly in the year 1829 a resolution was
passed by the trustees that henceforth no duplicate book should be issued
when a pass-book was "alleged to be lost," that no deposits or payments
should be permitted within the expiration of four months from date of notice
of loss, that an affidavit of the depositor was to be required, and that the
account was then to be closed and the balance paid to the depositor and his
receipt for same taken.
                    It was also resolved, that
      "In all cases the Accountant shall note the fact on the original entry
of the books of the institution and that the circumstances of the case be
recorded in a book which shall be kept by the Accountant for that special

      Accordingly very careful inquiry was made as to the circumstances of
the loss. A few unusual instances of these "circumstances" are herewith

      In the year 1839 a depositor called at the Bank and announced he "had
lost his book from his hat while on a frolic."

      The same year another old New Yorker pitifully related how his book
was "lost from his room, confiscated by rats."

      Another feelingly declared he was "dead broke and could not find his

      Another, evidently a traveller, made the statement that his book "had
been lost out of his pocket forty-eight miles from Boston."

      Again, a certain woman depositor informed the Bank her book "had been
stolen from her band-box," and still another declared her book "had been
stolen from her prayer-book in her pocketbook."

      A wife with domestic troubles bewailed the fact that "her husband tore
the book and burned it."

      Another at war with her landlord affirmed she "had given her book to
her landlord and he did not return it."

      "Lost from my carpet-bag" was another statement of an old-time

      Another, unappreciative of the guardians of the law, complained he had
lost his book being "beaten and robbed by a policeman" and still another
related how his book "had been stolen from his clothes while in the Tombs."

      One honest man admitted he had "torn it up himself to prevent someone
else from getting it."
                              *     *    *    *    *    *
      The perennial problem of lost pass-books, which appeared early in the
Bank's history continued to present itself. At first a duplicate book was
given, but finally the present custom prevailed, of closing the old account
and opening a new one--new number and new book.  Throughout the Bank's
history many unusual cases of lost pass-books are recorded.

      Case No. 1:  A woman carefully hid her book, together with $50.00 in a
silver teapot with its precious contents in the oven of an old stove. In a
few days, forgetting her act, she started a fire in the stove, which
destroyed the book, money and silverware. She then came to the Bank and told
her story.

      Case No. 2:  The following advertisement of a "lost book" is
reproduced from the daily newspaper, printed sometime soon after 1860. The
advertisement just below that of the "lost book" notice, shows how the city
has changed since that time.
       "Lost___Bank book 217,486; the finder will please return the same to
the Bleecker St. Bank.
       "A red and white speckled calf  lost from 1516 Broadway, near 55th
St. The finder will be suitably rewarded by bringing it to the above

      Case No. 3:  Another depositor reported how his bull-dog at home had
chewed his pass-book to pieces. This man was particularly annoyed at what he
called the Bank's "red-tape" when he sought to secure a new book at once and
simply for the asking.

      Case No. 4:  Some depositors are habitual sinners in losing their
books. Such is the case of a woman depositor who lost her book regularly
once a month for six months, and one month lost the book the same day she
had received it as a new book in place of one just lost. Her case was
investigated and it was found to be a habit with her. She apparently could
not help it.

      Case No. 5:  The record of an indulgent father who reported how his
book had been lost on the street. "Baby took it from my pocket," he said,
"and threw it away."

      Case No. 6:  This concerns another confidential gentleman fifty years
ago, who confessed his book had been "stolen from his pocket while asleep in
a saloon not far from his home."

      Case No. 7:  A very interesting case of a hard-working woman who,
while on her way to deposit $500.00 in the Bank, lost her book and the
$500.00 placed within its pages. Asked at the Bank the customary question,
how the book was lost, she replied, "I must have lost it in the street car
on the way to the Bank." The Bank thereupon telephoned the office of the
Railroad Company, gave the name of the depositor and the number of her
pass-book and was pleased to learn that an honest conductor had found the
book and the money in his car and sent it to the "lost and found" department
of the Company. So both book and money were restored to the depositor the
same day.


      Some very interesting cases are on record at the Bank, several of
which occurred during the presidency of Mr. Walter Trimble, 1907-1926. In a
very unusual incident which took place one day, a depositor, evidently a
woman judging from her handwriting, left a note with an envelope containing
eight hundred dollars, pushing the money and message through one of the
receiving-teller's windows during his absence. The letter stated how several
years previously the woman had received through error an overpayment of
$800.00. At the time being in need, she used the money. After some years
finding herself able to repay the money, she did so, in the manner
mentioned, leaving it stealthily at the teller's window and requesting the
Bank to acknowledge receipt by an advertisement in the NEW YORK WORLD. This
acknowledgment the Bank made as the woman asked.

      Some instances are amusing, as was the case with an excited woman who
after being at the test window and "tested," passed on toward the
accountant's window with her book in her pocket. Evidently undergoing a
momentary lapse of memory she returned to the clerk at the test window and
demanded her bank book. Before the clerk could answer she cried "you kept my
book____I want my book!"
      The young man was by this time somewhat embarrassed. Noticing this,
the woman threatened. "I'll report you to the president," she exclaimed.  By
this time the youth recovered himself sufficiently to say "Look in your
pocket." She did so, and recovered the book, but this did not satisfy her.
Turning on the clerk in rage, she said "You're wrong anyway."

      A depositor, a tailor, not many years ago, reported to the Bank how he
was measuring a man for a suit of clothes, and while he had his tape about
the man's waist the customer picked the tailor's pocket and stole his bank

      Of recent date was the visit to the Bank of a Philosophically cheerful
youth, who the evening before had enjoyed a swim at the Madison Square
Garden swimming pool of that time. This was his recital:
       "I have lost my book, lost it while swimming in the Madison Square
Garden pool. My book was stolen together with my clothes, shoes and hat. All
the thief left in my locker was my garters and necktie."

      The Bank has also had troublesome cases. Such was the case of a Mr. H.
who was a source of great annoyance to the officers of the Bank. Mr. H. had
been defrauded of his money by a faithless wife. He accordingly determined
to make the Bank stand the loss and refund his money. So day after day for
many weeks he would come to the Bank and make a threatening demand for what
he called his money, and even mentioned doing bodily injury to some one of
the officers of the institution. During banking hours he would often be seen
standing on the street corner facing the Bank, staring at the building in a
wild manner.
      Finally a quietus was placed upon him by the police authorities, who
arrested him for annoying the Bank, and sent him to Blackwell's Island. He
never returned to the Bank and evidently was not as crazy as he seemed.

      The Bank has had persistent litigants who proved themselves a public
nuisance and their cases were thrown out of court. It has also had some
peculiar depositors, persons who always find their way into public places.
Two of these may be mentioned showing tactfulness on the part of bank

      Instance No. 1, is that of an elderly gentleman who frequently entered
the Bank, approached the teller's window and said, "How do you do? I want to
draw out my money and I wish to take my stock certificates as well." The
teller knew him and always very graciously passed out to him one of the
folded pamphlets used at the time for advertising purposes. The man would
take the paper offered him and leave the Bank quite satisfied.

      Instance No. 2, is that of a woman who repeatedly came to the Bank
late in the afternoon, stood for a time at the teller's window and made the
usual request that the teller would give her a fifty thousand dollar bag of
jewels belonging to her. The teller would then ask her to take a seat a
moment. This she would do and sit quietly until three o'clock and the Bank
was closed. She was then promptly told the Bank was closed for business and
she would quietly depart.

      The historic pages of the Bank's law cases are many and interesting.
These are carefully preserved and have been for years. They often present
interesting legal questions in the settlement of depositor's accounts. There
we read of the case of Herman H___and wife Veronica. The account was a
"joint account." Both depositors died at one time, smothered by gas. A son
was left, the only heir. The Bank's lawyers directed that the Bank pay the
son after he had taken out letters of administration on the estate of the
father. The Bank in taking his receipt was directed to have the boy sign
individually and as administrator of his father. The Bank would then be
protected, as individually he is the heir to his mother's estate.

      The most unusual case was that of Mrs. B. (the full name is purposely omitted).

      In 1920 Mrs. B. died and her attorneys made a demand upon the Bank for
payment of six accounts opened by her, before her death, under fictitious
names. According to the daily papers Mrs. B. was fond of opening bank
accounts. In fact, she had opened seventy-six in various banks of the city,
all under fictitious names, apparently the names of nephews and nieces, all
of whom were deceased.
      The finding of the bank books was not accomplished  without legal
action and not until the surrogate ordered a certain deposit company to open
their box No. 2150 which had been rented in the name of Mrs. C. (not Mrs.
B.). This was done after the secretary of the Safe Deposit Company had
identified the picture of a refined-looking woman, stylishly gowned, as Mrs.
C. when the picture shown him was really that of Mrs. B. Mrs. B's chauffeur
and maid testified that they had often accompanied Mrs. B. to the safe
deposit company, but never knew she had used a name other than her own. In
one New York savings bank she had twelve books, in another thirteen, and in
still another eighteen bank books, all opened in fictitious names and in
some cases totaling as large an amount as $20,000.00.  In The Bank for
Savings she, in like fashion, opened six accounts with a combined balance of
      Suit was instituted against the Bank to recover the full sum
$7,310.06, but the courts gave judgment only for the full amount deposited
on these six accounts, plus the interest on the sum of $3,000 as at that
time "no one depositor could have on deposit more than $3,000." The
plaintiff also paid the cost of the legal action in trial court.

Source:  History of the Bank for Savings in the City of New York 1819-1929
Author:   Charles E. Knowles
Copyright:  The Bank for Savings in the City of New York
First Edition, 1929 and Second Edition, 1936.

          Researched, Prepared and Transcribed by Miriam Medina
Bank of Savings..Pt1
Bank of Savings..Pt2

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