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Jackson Bank of Amador County, Jackson, California

The rumor sped along Main - August, 1896 - in Jackson. "Someone is going to put up a brick building on a Main Street vacant lot!" Not that new brick buildings that year were rare. Chris Marelia was planning a 2-story on Court, below the court house, and DB Spagnoli was adding a second story on his brick office opposite it.

What about Patrick Dwyer? His Globe Hotel.* But none those were on a vacant lot on Main. Who was the builder and what was he building?

Insiders, of course, knew. Just ask one. "Why, yes, there's going to be a bank built on the old Hamilton Stage Stable lot," the answer came, matter-of-factly. Leaving aside for a moment where the Hamilton 36 lot was, the questioner could only exclaim, "A bank? You mean, Amador County is finally going to gets its first bank? No!"

Bank of Amador County

"Yep, a bank. It's going to be down at the foot of Main, west side, between Webb's dilapidated frames, 37 and Peek and Newman's livery by the National Hotel." "Who's behind it?" "Gaskill is his name. A promoter from Oakland. He's got a bunch of San Francisco capitalists together an even some local businessmen, too. Varney W. Gaskill, about 40, a real insider. I've heard he's going to come up here and direct construction and then live here!"

Further signs that a bank was being born in Jackson were not long in coming. On November 20 Gaskill filed with county clerk Charles Culbert articles of incorpora­tion38 for a Bank of Amador County.

"Hey, boys. That's something to be proud of. A bank right here. A Bank of Amador County." And maybe in Sutter Creek, too. That's what the incorporation papers said, Jackson and Sutter Creek, with Jackson the princi­pal office.

Gaskill was president, Frederick C. Siebe vice presi­dent, Frederick Eudey, secretary and cashier, and Henry Eudey, S.G. Spagnoli, Gaskill, Siebe and M.J. Madison, directors. Corporation attorneys would be Judge John F. Davis and the Honorable Anthony Caminetti. Miss Hil­da Clough would be notary. The Bank of Amador County was capitalized at $50,000, with the directors buying $10,500 worth of shares, Gaskill most of it. That amount would build the bank and get them started.

"The management," reported Sutter Creek's Amador Record, "proposed being conservative but progressive ... and ever ready to listen to suggestions from local Citizens of the county who (think otherwise).

"The combined wealth of the stockholders will amount to over $10 million, thus offering absolute secu­rity to the depositors." Evidently, many merchants in Jackson agreed and purchased their own stock in the venture. Once the bank was incorporated, Gaskill officially purchased the lot on Main which, historically, was the northerly half of the wide lot on which the two-story Union House stood from 1854 to 1862.

Early that December Fred Eudey was a clerk in the Newman-Peiser store just up Main. By mid-month the new bank appointed him secretary and cashier. In sub­sequent weeks, while craftsmen built the bank, Eudey boned up on banking at the State Bank in Sacramento and the Oroville Bank.

The directors awarded the contract to build their bank to local millwright, Ed Kay,39 and signed an agreement with Vincenzo Particelli 40 and brother to supply the granite for the building's trim. Workmen poured the concrete foundation and mortared walls of pressed brick by early January. By April 29, the flagpole topped off the building in time for the public to preview the bank two days before it would officially open on May 1.

Before 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 1, 1897, the flag was furled, and at 9 president Gaskill and cashier Eudey opened the doors of the Bank of Amador County. Residents flocked in to make deposits and get their bank and checkbooks. "The express of favor sounded loud and deep," said a county paper. No longer would anyone on any day but Sunday have to scurry around for change or a place to cash a check. Now, the bank would provide those services and more.

The visitors saw a shallow lobby athwart which ran a counter across the entire room, separating the work area from the public. Along the top of the railing on the counter was a handsome grill work of brass, with wickets for cashier and teller. Behind the counter were the bank rooms proper, the director's room which would later be moved into an annex, and a sleeping room with closets. The directors' room was carpeted and furnished with beautiful oak furniture. The bank interior boasted oak finish, plaster of paris walls. The fire-proof vault, enclosed by pressed brick, and the burglar-proof safe were awesome. The vault was 9 by 9 by 6 feet, and lined with quarter-inch steel. A combination opened the outside doors; a key opened the in­side ones. Those doors weighed 3500 pounds and cost $400!

This photograph of the Jackson Bank. The bank members are from left to right, the follow: (seated) George Schacht, John Rule, Frank Sanguinetti, John Cademartori, Robert Kerr, Chub Green, Charles Rugne, Paul Parker; (standing) julius Piccardo, Ben Gilbert, Jeff Dal Porto, Albert Sutherland, conductor C.L. Davenport, William A. Tam, John Batcheler, Guido Giannini, Frank Cuneo, Ernest Tam, the drummer, kneels in front of the group.

Return to our Jackson Tour or click on our Minor to end your tour

Information, photographs courtesy of the Amador County Archives, The Historical Marker Database, The Chronicling America Database, and Larry Cenotto, Amador County's Historian