During Poteau’s early years, the town was thriving in a way that was unparalleled in the region. Between 1900 and 1930, growth was almost non-stop. With this growth, a lot of money came in to town. By statehood, Poteau had three banks.
Where Legal Aid is today was the Bank of LeFlore, also known as the Leflore National Bank. Then the First National Bank of Poteau was located a block closer to the courthouse in the Holton Building. Across the street was the Bank of Poteau. Eventually, the Bank of Poteau became the dominant bank in the area.
The Bank of Poteau was located where Mr. McCroskey’s office was, in the building that was later robbed by Bonnie and Clyde. Established on March 7th, 1901, the bank opened with $25,000. The name was changed a year later to the National Bank of Poteau. During that same year, the banks first permanent building was established. In 1919, the bank changed names again, becoming the Central State Bank, and then again in 1922 as Central National Bank, as it is known today. In 1932, the bank was robbed by Bonnie and Clyde; the newspaper article describing the event can still be found in the bank’s location downtown.
Around the time of the bank robbery, The National Bank of Poteau bought out the First National Bank of Poteau. The First National Bank was closed and the building converted into Holton’s Department Store.
In addition to name changes, the bank also moved locations through out the years. In 1944, Central National Bank bought out the Bank of LeFlore and moved locations to the new facility on the corner of Dewey and Witte. It remained there until 1959 when the new location was built where the building stands today.
For a small town with an early population of around 3,000, having three banks was a tremendous compliment to the towns success.
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