On August 1st, 1870, the private banking firm of Petefish, Skiles & Co. Bank opened its’ doors for business in Virginia, IL. Samuel H. Petefish, Ignatius Skiles and Jacob Epler, all prominent local businessmen, started the firm with Richard Elliott as cashier. Mr. Epler retired after the first year and George Virgin was admitted to the firm. In 1872, Edward T. Oliver was placed in charge of the bank after the resignation of Mr. Elliot. In April 1873, Ignatius Skiles died and his brother Oswell Skiles became a member of the firm in 1875.
In 1876, Mr. Virgin retired, and the firm became S.H. Petefish, Oswell Skiles, Edward T. Oliver, William Campbell and George Crum and this association continued for a number of years. Mr. Oliver eventually relocated to Springfield and George Conover was made cashier. Matt Yaple joined the firm in 1886 and later became its assistant cashier.
On September 24, 1902, a charter was granted from the State of Illinois, under the state banking laws, to S.H. Petefish, L.A. Petefish, Matt Yaple and Oswell Skiles, incorporating the bank. At that time, George Conover was elected President and Matt Yaple became cashier. Conover served as President until 1904, when Oswell Skiles was elected to that office and continued until his death in 1908. L.A. Petefish was elected to succeed Mr. Skiles, and served until 1912, when M.L. Crum was made President and L.A. Petefish was Vice President, Matt Yaple, cashier, George Widmayer and I.S. Yaple assistant cashiers. The bank’s capital at that time was $60,000 and was one of the most successful and substantial of the county.
During the early years of its existence, Petefish, Skiles & Co. Bank occupied the building farthest south, on the west side of the square. In 1910 the bank opened the doors of a newly remodeled building on the opposite corner, its present site, at 102 W. Beardstown Street.
In January of 1918, Petefish, Skiles & Co. Bank purchased the assets and liabilities of the 53 year-old Farmers National Bank; which was located in the Tower building on the Southwest corner of the square. In 1919, H.H. Conover was made a director thus beginning an active association with the institution; which continued over a period of forty years, serving as President and Chairman of the Board from 1937 until his death in 1959.
From 1923 through 1926, C.W. Savage served as President, and in 1927, Matt Yaple was elected President of the institution. In 1934, Mr. Yaple’s banking career ended after 48 years in the business. During this time, he held every position in the bank, from janitor to bookkeeper to President.
In November 1930, Petefish, Skiles & Co. Bank again increased in size when it took over the assets and liabilities of the 54 year-old Centennial National Bank. It was during this time and the next few years, the entire country was going through the Great Depression. Many banks suffered heavy losses, in which a great number of them were not able to withstand. Virginia’s two banks, Petefish, Skiles & Co. Bank and the Peoples Bank were able to weather this financial storm. However, in December 1936, Petefish, Skiles & Co. Bank purchased assets and assumed the liabilities of the 18 year-old Peoples Bank. Due to the many failures and mergers of banks during the depression, Petefish, Skiles & Co. Bank became the “Oldest Bank in Cass County” having only closed its doors briefly from March 4 – July 1, 1932, due to the order of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States for a Bank Moratorium during this period.
Branch offices of the Illini Bank in Tallula, Petersburg and Greenview were purchased by Petefish, Skiles & Co. Bank in 2000. People’s State Bank of Chandlerville and its branch office in Havana were acquired in 2007.
In addition to its founders and incorporators, several prominent residents of the community have been responsible for the banks leadership over the years, including: Marcus L. Crum, Lee H. Skiles, W.J. Devlin, Maria Petefish Prather, Seth F. McClintick, Wm. M. Yaple, Dr. H.A. Snow, C.K. Heidbreder, Reginald Jokisch, David B. Finney, Jr., John Byus, George Barkley Bley, Mary Arline Bley, Harold A. Davis, Vernon Anderson, and Donald Newell.
The current Directors include Nancy Bley Cowen, Chairman of the Board, Stan Fulton, Donald D. Gillmore, Steve D. Bitner, Thomas J. Prather, Eldon K. Leinberger, and Ron E. Brockhouse. Thomas J. Prather is currently serving as President and as a member of the Board of Directors. Janet Davidsmeier Bentley is the Executive Vice President, Paul Reynolds is Vice President and also Menard County Division President, and Eldon Leinberger is the Mason County Division President.
From the humble beginning in a second story office on the town square in 1870 to a dynamic company with over $180,000,000 in assets 142 years later, the bank has prospered by serving the financial needs in Cass, Menard and Mason Counties of Illinois.