Harvel Illinois Bank Building

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

Harvel Illinois bank building was torn down in 2020.
Harvel Illinois bank building was torn down in 2020.

The Harvel Illinois Bank building. The first bank in the county to fail during the great depression. Our great grandfather Lester Vandever was Montgomery County States Attorney when the bank failed. He jailed and prosecuted the bank president and head cashier. Sold their homes and personal property then used that money to repay the bank customers who lost money when the bank closed. After looking inside it's hard to believe this building is still standing. Current population of Harvel Illinois: 216 people.

President H. H. Zimmerman and head cashier John A. Huber indicted for receiving funds knowing the bank to be insolvent. Mr. Huber was also indicted for having taken money which belonged to the Harvel School District and converting it to his own use. Some other charges were dropped. This was 1932 a little more than 2 years after the bank closed. Earlier in 1931 some customers sued the president, cashier and directors who knew the bank was insolvent months before it closed. I'm not even sure of the outcome of all those. Looks like it was a big mess. One of the customers suing had deposited $1,000.00 the afternoon of Monday December 1, 1930 and John Huber the head cashier gladly accepted his deposit. The bank didn't open the next morning of December 2, 1930. On Wednesday December 3, 1930 a bank examiner said the bank could only reopen if they could raise $27,000.00. They couldn't and the decision was made to liquidate the bank. The president and head cashier were the primary stockholders and should have been the ones that lost money but they walked away ok and the customers lost money. Both men plead guilty. The cashier had no assets and was sentenced to penitentiary. The president didn't know how bad things were with the bank and didn't get jail time but all his real estate and personal property both here in Montgomery County and elsewhere were sold to repay the bank customers who lost money when the bank failed. It said that if they had shut down the bank earlier and ask for help this whole thing could have been avoided. The accounts would have been taken over by a larger stronger bank and everything would have been fine.

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Jeff Dunn

Vice President

Historical Society of

Montgomery County

Advisory Board

Illinois State

Historical Society