VCNB Founder Daniel Will Honored By Vinton County Historical and Genealogical Society
The Vinton County Historical and Genealogical Society (VCGHS) honored Vinton County National Bank founder Daniel Will with a wreath laying ceremony at his grave on September 30. Daniel or “Uncle Dan,” as we often call him, is an important part of our bank’s history and present. After all, the principals he used to found this bank are values we will still hold dear today.
He believed in contributing to the community whenever and however he could. He believed in embracing innovative ideas and being a leader who could be respected. He believed in having meaningful relationships with his customers and in always doing the right thing – even when no one is looking. Most of all, he believed in investing in his community and in the people who call it home. Consequently, generations of Vinton County families have benefited from his contributions even though they may not even know Dan’s name.
We are proud of our roots so it was deeply moving when the VCGHS wanted to honor him.
To prepare for the occasion, local resident and volunteer Joyce Peters spent countless hours researching and writing Dan’s life story to be read at the ceremony. We wanted to share it with you here as well. Thanks to Joyce, VCGHS President Deanna Tribe and Past President Sonny McWhorter for making this a special day.
DANIEL WILL: The Patriarch of the Vinton County National Bank
Daniel Will was born on March 9, 1832 in Hocking County, Ohio. His parents were Jacob G. Will and Sarah Ann Swinehart who married on July 6, 1828 in Hocking County, Ohio. Daniel’s great-grandfather was George Will, Sr., who emigrated to America on a sail vessel from Baden, Germany and located in Berks County, Pennsylvania before the Revolutionary War. Daniel’s grandfather, George Will, Jr. was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania on July 3, 1774. He was a shoemaker following his father’s trade; however, later he became a merchant. George Jr. married Elizabeth Gresinger on July 19, 1798 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. They had five children (Jacob G.- who was Daniel’s father; Joseph K., Elizabeth, Lucinda and Clarissa). Sometime between 1790-1800 George Jr., George Sr., and their families, moved to Adelphi in Ross County where George Sr. passed away a few years later. George Jr. served as a one-time mayor of Adelphi; was an active and prominent Whig; and served in the Ohio military, first as a corporal of his company and later as a captain during the War of 1812. When George Jr. returned to civilian life he resumed his mercantile operations. He also purchased 160 acres of land in Elk Township, Vinton County, which eventually became the property of his grandson Daniel Will.
Daniel Will’s father, Jacob G. Will, was a farmer and a merchant. In 1841 he moved from Ross County to McArthur where he continued his mercantile business. However, in 1858 he decided to return to farming. He and his wife were members of the McArthur Methodist Episcopal Church. They had ten children: Joseph B., Aaron, George L., Daniel, Susan E., Jacob S., Mary A., Henry C., Clara E., and Sarah Caroline, who died in infancy.
Daniel grew up with limited educational advantages. However, he advanced his education considerably through reading, observation and determination. During the fall of 1850 Daniel taught school for a term. The following spring in 1851 he began his business career by becoming a clerk for his uncle, Joseph K. Will, earning $125 per year. Eventually, Daniel decided to go into a partnership with his uncle and remained with him until 1858. Later on Daniel partnered with his father and opened a general store in Zaleski. In 1861 he became the proprietor of a general store in McArthur which was based purely on a cash-only system. Daniel was able to buy merchandise at large discounts and to sell at lower than the general market prices. Daniel’s merchandise sales quickly increased higher than the other three McArthur stores combined.
In 1865 Daniel established a partnership with his brothers Jacob S. and Aaron. Daniel continued as their partner until October 1, 1867.
On October 1, 1867, the bank of Will, Brown & Company was established by Daniel Will. The bank was located at the same location where Daniel’s general store once stood which was across Main Street from the current Vinton County National Bank. One reason Daniel Will wanted to start a bank was because he realized that many of his store customers had nowhere to safely keep their money; thus, he would offer to keep it for them in his store safe. Then one day he realized that starting a bank was a reasonable thing to do.
The following year, on September 1, 1868 Will, Brown and Company consolidated with another bank which was the Vinton County Bank that was founded on January 7, 1867. Together they became the Vinton County Bank with $75,000 in capital. On January 9, 1869 the bank elected the following Board of Directors: Charles Brown, Thomas B. Davis, Andrew Wolf, J. W. Delay, Daniel Will, David V. Rannells, and E. D. Dodge. The board of directors organized by electing Daniel Will as president and J. W. Delay as cashier. The location after consolidation was where the current Vinton County National Bank stands today.
On October 1, 1872 the bank became the Vinton County National Bank when they attained a national charter with $100,000 in capital. The following individuals were named as the bank’s stockholders: Daniel Will, J. W. Delay, Charles Brown, E. D. Dodge, Andrew Wolf, H. S. Bundy, D. V. Rannells, Aaron Will, Jacob G. Will, Jacob S. Will, and T.B. Davis. The stockholders elected as directors: Daniel Will, Andrew Wolf, Charles Brown, H. S. Bundy and J. W. Delay. Daniel Will was elected president and J. W. Delay was elected cashier. By obtaining a national charter it allowed the bank to offer expanded services. During that time, national banks could issue their own money which was called National Currency or Circulated Notes. The government printed the money in the name of each issuing bank and the Comptroller of the Currency distributed the money to those banks. A framed example of the national currency is on display in the bank’s museum which is located inside the Main Street entrance of the bank.
Daniel Will had many other business interests. Not only was he a successful banker for 57 years, he also was the owner of the Will House in McArthur. The Will House eventually became the Hotel McArthur. Daniel also owned 1,600 acres of property in Vinton County as well as other real estate in McArthur.
Daniel had a very good reputation of being conservative and highly successful in his business decisions. He also possessed very diligent work ethics and good business principles. These characteristics assisted him to persevere in a very long and successful business life.
Daniel Will passed away at the age of 92 on September 10, 1924, while working at the bank which he had founded and molded into one of Ohio’s finest. He had never married; instead he devoted his entire life to his work. Daniel Will is buried at the Elk Cemetery in McArthur, Ohio, along with several of his family members.
Aaron Will Jr. became president after his uncle Daniel passed away. Aaron decided to build a new bank because the building was deteriorating. While the new bank was being built the Vinton County National Bank moved across the street to the location where Daniel once had his general store until the new building was completed.
Since the Vinton County National Bank’s inception in 1867, members of the Will family have been instrumental in maintaining the continuous operation and growth of the Vinton County National Bank. Several descendants of Daniel Will have served in the role as president. The names include Aaron Will Jr.; John Lawrence Will; Robert B. Will, Sr.; John Gordon Will; and Robert B. Will, Jr.
Current Will family leadership of the Vinton County National Bank and Community Bancshares, Inc. are: Thomas D. Will - Chairman & CEO of Community Bancshares, Inc.; J. Ben Crow - Secretary/Treasurer of Community Bancshares, Inc.; Christyne Will Calvin – Community Bancshares, Inc. Board of Directors; and Tom Oyer - Head of Commercial Lending. Also, Emily Will Oyer was Head of Retail prior to her retirement.
Members of the Will family who attended the service are pictured. From left are Tom Will, Adam Crow, Ben Cow, Tom Oyer with his sons Henry and August, and Emily Will Oyer.
To date there have been six generations of Will descendants who have kept Daniel Will’s legacy and vision alive and have made the Vinton County National Bank the successful bank which it is today.