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The history of Martin County National Bank began when its founder, Albert L. Ward moved from New York to Winnebago County in the spring of 1864.Ward faithfully served in the New York Volunteer Infantry and was honorably discharged due to a physical disability.Once in Winnebago City, the 22-year-old Ward inquired at the local federal grant office and selected 160 acres in section nine of the Fairmont Township.Mr. Ward arrived in Fairmont on April 28, 1864, having caught a ride with an oxen team and wagon owned and driven by Jehu Hayworth, who owned a farm in the area.Ward was thoroughly impressed with the beautiful sunset over Lake Sisseton.In an article written on April 28th, 1924, the 60th anniversary of his arrival, Mr. Ward described his first impressions of the area: "When we wound in around the prairie slough from the northeast and drove the ox team up on the ground where the courthouse grounds now are, the sun was near it setting on a perfect spring day; the evening rays shining through the freshly leafed trees and over the silvery waters made what I thought to be the most beautiful scene I ever beheld.I decided that here I would stop and spend my lifetime, and I've been here ever since-and the sunsets still seem as beautiful as the one which I admired the day I arrived."
During the first summer, Ward
harvested hay from the property he
had homesteaded and sold it to the government for the troops stationed at Fort Fairmont.Within six months he
had also started a general merchandising business and was joined the next year by his
older brother Rueben.He
share in the mercantile business approximately three years later.For the next few years, Mr. Ward
energies to farming, law, and real estate.
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1st Bank Building
In 1874, Albert Ward
interest in his
law practice to pursue the field of Banking.On January 1, 1875 the Martin County National Bank
received its charter.Mr. Ward was elected the first President, and the first bank building was located on Court House hill, where Fort Fairmont had stood.
The original bank building cost $700 and included a meeting room for the Modern Woodman of America on the upper floor.Three years later, the Bank of Fairmont
, also located on Court House hill, failed.Martin County National Bank
purchased this larger facility and began conducting business from the building in 1878. Albert Ward's
interest in banking was not limited to Martin County National Bank
, as he
was also a major stockholder in five other banks: the Truman National Bank, the Sherburn National Bank, the Blue Earth Valley National Bank of Winnebago, the Jackson County National Bank of Lakefield, and the Welcome National Bank
was truly one of the early leaders of Fairmont and southern Minnesota.He held numerous positions of public service, such as county attorney, county auditor, register of deeds, and superintendent of schools.He served as postmaster of Fairmont under Presidents Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, and Cleveland.As a commissioner, Ward represented Minnesota at the 1892 World Fair.Ward was also a State Senator and once ran for a congressional seat.His
commitment to public service and leadership to the area lasted his
entire life. Ward remained president until his death of apoplexy in 1931.Five strong presidents have followed Ward in serving Martin County National Bank.Elmore Houghtaling immediately followed Albert Ward and served as president until 1953.Houghtaling was born in Boscobel, Wisconsin in 1860 and came to Fairmont with his parents when he was 15 years old.His
father opened a hardware store in 1875, the same year A.L. Ward founded the bank.
Fred Sr.'s father, as a child, worked for Albert Ward
as a chauffeur and later on the Bank's board of directors.Fred Sr. continued his family's involvement in the Bank by serving on the board of directors for the last 30 years.
...In 1902 the Truman National Bank was started by A. L. Ward, a wealthy Fairmont businessman, with Cashiers Jim Arms and Gus Seaburg.