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About Hardin County Savings Bank

Together With You for Life Since 1868

“For life” may seem like a long time, but we’ve been making our promise to be there for our customers since 1868. Situated in the heart of Iowa, we have proudly been serving the communities where we have offices – Eldora and Union – as well as the surrounding communities.

As a full service, locally owned community bank, we specialize in meeting the needs of rural communities and agricultural businesses. We’ve also stayed current with ever-changing technology, and offer the latest in online and mobile banking technology. But most importantly, we’ve stayed true to our main purpose of reinvesting in our communities in order to make them better places to live and work.

We have well over a century of service to our name, and we’re excited to continue to be “Together With You for Life!”

Our Mission Statement

The Hardin County Savings Bank will partner with its customers to ensure financial success.

Our Pledge to You

  • We pledge to provide you with excellent banking experiences for life!
  • We pledge to provide excellent customer service with competency and professionalism.
  • We pledge to provide qualified staff to meet your needs.
  • We pledge to provide innovative products and services, state of the art technology, and a friendly environment to handle the most delicate financial needs.
  • We pledge to channel loan dollars back into our neighborhoods where we live and work, to support and strengthen our communities.
  • We pledge to partner with you to ensure financial success! 


In 2018 HCSB celebrated 150 years! HCSB was organized on December 20, 1868 in Eldora, Iowa by seven men: HP Liscomb, New York; Tomas Kensett, Baltimore; George Green, Cedar Rapids; FWH Sheffield, Dubuque; and HL Huff, EW Eastman and C McKeen  Duren of Eldora. Its first officers were FWH Sheffield, President; EW Eastman, Vice President; and C McKeen Duren, Cashier. All of the gentlemen, except Mr Eastman and Mr Duren, were involved in the Eldora railroad, which was built that year from Ackley to Eldora.


Message from CEO and Chairman of Board, Jim Brown and President, David Vander Wilt

Thanks for coming to our website to learn more about our rich history.  You'll find some fun reading about the bank and its colorful history (and characters).  We also invite you to stop in the bank to see our treasured ledgers and keepsakes. We look forward to another 150 years!

A Few Fun Facts about HCSB 

From Eldora Newspaper – February 20, 1968

About the time Eldora’s first bank opened in 1868, officials of that institution were confronted with a problem of removing the new 7200 pound bank safe from a railroad car and into the new structure.

One half day was spent getting the safe out of the car and onto a wagon that had 8x8 timbers for flooring. Then going through a slough just a few rods from the railroad station northeast of town, the wagon wheels settled in the mud, the timbers snapped, and the safe pitched forward.

The following day a log sled was contrived and after working all day with levers, blocks and jack screws, the safe was loaded on and with six horses pulling the sled arrived at the bank after dark.

When workmen arrived on the scene the following morning, they were confronted with a second problem: the safe was too large for the bank door. Carpenters then removed one of the wide front windows, blocked up the floors and by means of jack screws, levers and railroad ties, shoved the safe into the building.

*The Hardin County Savings Bank is the 7th oldest bank in Iowa.

James Nuckolls was known as the dean of the county bankers having served a career extending over 55 years in Eldora. He served as president from 1943 until his death in 1949. During his time he saw the bank grow from assets of $100,000 to over $4,000,000.

Frank Jackson came to work at the bank in the 40s when he was 72 years old and he retired 23 years later. He was an amazing man.  HCSB hosted his 100th birthday at the bank and over 800 people came to honor him.

The Great Depression - “Naturally the stories I have heard about the depression are all second hand, but are consistent with all who have shared. During the worst of the depression, the federal government of any bank regulatory agencies mandated that all commercial banks would be closed every Monday. I don’t know how long this lasted, but HCSB through word of mouth did business out of the side door of the bank every Monday. Customers knew that if there was an urgent banking need, we would take care of them. It was during this time that we gained most of our Hubbard area customers, many of whom still have family members that continue to bank with us. The rest of the story is that we are very thankful that those in charge of the bank at that time must have been very conservative and prudent in conducting the bank’s business during that time period!” – as told by Jim Brown

The Farm Crisis of the 80s – “The farm depression during the mid 80’s to mid 90’s was difficult for both bank staff and our customers. Land and equipment prices dropped somewhere between 60-70% during that time. My personal reflections are mainly attempting to keep as many of our customers in business while not causing the bank to become a problem with our regulators. Much of the lending at that time became asset based rather than cash flow based. Some of this had to do with the Farm Credit System’s aggressive lending practices based on the rapid increase in land prices prior to the “ag crisis”. You could certainly make some comparisons to the Commercial and Residential real estate lending practices in the early 2000’s. Too little equity at time of purchase and very little attention paid to appropriate cash flow to repay the loan. The state of Iowa lost about 50-60 banks to foreclosure by federal and state regulators during that time. The more personal aspect of this period is that we lost almost all of our lending staff to either retirement or death during 2-4 years. I went to work every day for 10-11 hours, worked almost all Saturdays and many Sunday afternoons. It was a very exhaustive time both emotionally and physically, just as it was for our farm customers in particular. Thankfully, I survived as did the majority of banks and bankers!”  Jim Brown


FWH Sheffield - First President of HCSB

FWH Sheffield was the first president of the Hardin County Savings Bank when it was organized on December 20, 1868, as a State Bank. He was a native of Saybrook, Connecticut. The book, “History of Dubuque County” estimates his arrival to Dubuque, Iowa in 1856 or 1857. “He was regarded as a genial, social gentleman, fond of company, good living and a good joke. For a number of years, he was engaged in the dry-goods business, as the head of the house of Sheffield and Scott. Sometime afterward, the firm name was Sheffield, Wood & Co., from which he separated upon going into the banking business.” He was also engaged in the management of the Iowa Central Railway project, and this is where he came in contact with Eldora and other railroad men who formed the Hardin County National Bank. Five of the seven men on the first board of directors were involved in the Eldora railroad, which was built that year from Ackley to Eldora.

Recently a Col. Colt Presentation Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver with Canteen Stock sold on the James D. Julia, Inc. Antique Auction house. The stock is engraved “FWH Sheffield with compliments of Col. Colt” This revolver appears to have been manufactured in 1857 which coincides with Mr. Sheffield’s departure from Connecticut. Given that Mr. Sheffield was in the banking business, it stands to reason that he may have been connected to Samuel Colt through his banking connections. Some history also implies they were cousins. Click here to see the revolver: https://jamesdjulia.com/item/2166-391/ 

FWH Sheffield was also president of Merchants National Bank in Dubuque which was established in 1865 and failed in 1873. He and the cashier of the bank, RA Babbage, were accused of embezzling nearly $330,000 from the bank.  From the History of Dubuque County: “In a word, Mr. Sheffield and Mr. Babbage were regarded as the leading bankers of Northern Iowa. The two charged with this disastrous calamity, (the bank failure) were the bank’s president and cashier, the former appropriating $62,188, and the latter, $267,289 of the money entrusted to their keeping.” 

It is said that Sheffield lost all his fortune and sacrificed his fine home for the benefit of the Merchants National Bank of Dubuque’s creditors. He went east that same summer, and the story is told he left Dubuque with tears streaming down his cheeks and with less than $500. 

Sheffield was president of HCSB until 1872 when LW Wisner was elected President. LW Wisner held that office until his death on August 21, 1889. 

Other interesting facts:

  • In 1868 his 10 year old son died when he fell off his pony
  • The town of Sheffield, Iowa was named after FWH Sheffield. His good friend and fellow railroad investor, CC Gilman, was the founder of Sheffield and named the town after his friend. 


Lyman and George Wisner – Presidents of HCSB, 1872 - 1893

Contributed by Debra Johnson

   Eldora and Hardin County have had their share of wealthy and prominent families, but the Wisner’s are most likely “Eldora’s First Family of Fortune”.

   The Wisner family had its roots on a farm in Orange County, New York when, on July 1, 1832, Lyman F. Wisner was born to Colonel John and Mary Wisner.  As the son of a farmer, Lyman learned how to work hard and dream big, with patience and persistence.    A job in a large mercantile as a youngster also instilled in him a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a keen sense of business.  Early in his twenties, Lyman felt a longing to test his wings in the new states to the west, so he took his skills and travelled to Illinois.  But, now a poor pioneer, Lyman stayed only a short time there, and at age 24, Lyman moved on and settled in the area now known as Iowa Falls.  He travelled the area as a peddler, providing to the people the things they needed to survive in the frontier.  Iowa Falls, itself, was just being platted, and Lyman soon joined with another young businessman to form the Wisner and Sayer Mercantile, one of the first businesses there.

   It is interesting to note that at this time in Iowa history, Hardin and other counties in central Iowa were being settled by pioneers from the east.  Deeds, or patents, had been issued to those men who had been in service during the various wars, for the Iowa territory, a part of the Louisiana Purchase.  Many of these veterans, having no knowledge of Iowa, never intended to move to Iowa, so they would sell their patents.  Lyman saw a business opportunity in that, and began buying and selling these land deeds or patents.  He sold his share of the mercantile and took up the real estate business.  Using his keen sense of fairness and smart business sense, he quickly amassed a small fortune.  Lyman Wisner experienced several financial setbacks, but always found a way to overcome each one. 

   In 1858, Lyman was married to Julia Hatch, a tall girl with a strong constitution.  Lyman’s wealth continued to grow.  He became the first banker in Hardin County when he began a private bank in Iowa Falls in 1863.  The Hardin County Savings Bank became the first public bank in 1868, and Lyman served as its president from 1872 till his death in 1889.

   Lyman was a quiet, non-demonstrative, genial and optimistic man, filled with ideas and dreams.  Because he was quiet, some thought him to be cold-hearted, but many stories tell of his compassion toward others and his philanthropy toward his community.  He often used his wealth to help a struggling church or provide for a needy family, especially those who made a strong effort to meet their own needs.  He did not, however, lend the same support to those who expected someone else to take care of them.

   George Hatch Wisner was born to Lyman and Julia in 1864.  By this time, Lyman owned much property in Hardin County, and had become a millionaire, the wealthiest man in the county, and on his way to becoming the wealthiest man in all of Iowa.  As this wealth and his interest in the Hardin County Savings Bank grew, he made the decision to move to the county seat, Eldora, in 1876. 

   Lyman and his son, George, enjoyed a warm father-son relationship, and George benefitted from his father’s knowledge and character, growing to a man of prominence in his own right.  George was the driving force behind much of Eldora’s growth in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s.  He was instrumental in the building of several business buildings around the courthouse square, including the YMCA Building, the Winchester Hotel and the Wisner Opera House, all of which are now gone.  Other buildings with the Wisner name have survived, however, including three business buildings and the Historical House, all on Washington Street.

   These men of fortune experienced the ultimate misfortune when, one sunny August day in 1889, the two of them took a trip with horse and buggy to Owasa to check on some holdings, and to enjoy some time hunting together.  When the family dog refused to get back into the buggy, George bent down to gather him into the carriage, and the gun he was carrying accidently discharged.  The charge struck his father in the back of the head, killing him instantly.  The following terms were used to describe Lyman at his funeral:  “of highest integrity, a solid man of brain and substance, fruitful of just and honorable deeds, a devoted friend and family man.”  He is buried in the Union Cemetery at Iowa Falls, along with Moses and Sophia Hatch, his in-laws.

   George was named the new President of the Hardin County Savings Bank in 1889. He grew up in the family home which once stood on the corner east and north of the Lutheran Church in Eldora, but attended school at Shattuck Military Academy in Minnesota.  When his father was killed in 1889, his parents were in the process of building a new home on south Washington Street.  The home was finished that year, but his father never lived in the house. 

   George was a man of refinement and diversity, enjoying gardening as well as fire-fighting, music as well as sport, well-rounded in every regard.  He was what we would call “a mover and a shaker”- one who got things done.  He was generous and kind, well respected among his peers, and most definitely a family man. George had married Fannie Gilman, the daughter of C.C. Gilman, a man influential in getting the railroads into Eldora and who also founded the Eldora Pottery Works.  George and Fannie had two children, Lois and Gilman.  Fannie was a talented musician, and was likely one of the reasons for George’s interest in building the Wisner Opera House, named “The Grandest in the Midwest”. 

   Like his mother, George suffered from a kidney disease.  The ultimate misfortune struck the Wisner family again in 1893, when, at age 28, George was taken from this life by that disease.  Ironically, the Wisner Opera House was set to open at that time, so the very first event to be held in the opera house built by George Wisner was the funeral of George Wisner.  George was described by his friends as “large-hearted and whole-souled, the life and moving spirit of every improvement in Eldora.”

   George’s death literally drained all meaning from the life of his mother, Julia.  She had doted on him as a boy and supported him throughout his young life.  She struggled through three agonizing months.  Her final actions were to kiss the faces of her two grandchildren and speak the words, “I shall soon know if I will see my George again.”  George and Julia are buried in the Eldora Cemetery.

   There are many sides to every story, and this family’s is no different.  The Wisner’s were a family of wealth and prominence, of influence and generosity, of hard work and shrewd business sense, and of sadness and heartache.  This is a family whose legacy has touched us all.

   Like every town, Eldora has had numerous men and women throughout its history who have been willing to spend their time, effort and money to better the community in which they lived and worked.  Lyman and George Wisner were two such men.



Charles McKeen Duren was the fourth President of the Hardin County Savings Bank and first president to have an active role in the bank. He was president from 1893 until his retirement in 1912. Below is an excerpt from the 1911 book Past and Present of Hardin County Iowa, pp. 394-396. It gives a lovely history of this family and a glowing description of the type of man he was.

"There is both lesson and incentive in contemplating a career like that of Charles McKeen Duren, well known bank of Eldora, Hardin County, whose enterprise, force of character, sterling integrity, fortitude amid discouraging situations, and his marked success in bringing to completion large business plans, have contributed in no small measure toward the development of this section of the Hawkeye state. He has always been a strong man, both physically and mentally, of great business capacity, a thorough organizer, good in the generalities of business, strong in his friendships, and never willing to give one up whom he trusted until that one had fully proven his unworthiness of that trust. Strong in his convictions of right and in his hatred of the tricks of business, of which some men even boast, his integrity stands as an unquestioned fact today among friends, acquaintances and business associates.

Mr. Duren hails from the old Pine Tree state, his birth having occurred at Sangerville, Maine, November 26, 1842, and he is the son of Rev. Charles and Serena (McKeen) Duren, the father a prominent minister in the Congregational church. When the subject was six months old the family moved to Vermont. He spent his boyhood at home and received a good education in the New England schools, and he began life for himself in 1858 in a general store at Sheldon, Vermont, and in 1864 he went to St. Albans, Vermont, and entered the drug business as a member of the firm of Wead & Duren. Leaving Vermont in 1866, he traveled about a year for a New York paper warehouse and in May, 1867, he came to Dubuque, Iowa, where he secured employment as bookkeeper for the Merchants National Bank. In November, 1868, he left there and came to Eldora, Iowa. Here he became the first cashier and manager of the Hardin County Bank, of which he was one of the organizers. In 1893 he was elected president of this institution, which position he has held ever since, the duties of which he has discharged in a manner that has reflected much credit upon himself and to the entire satisfaction of the stockholders and which has resulted in greatly increasing the prestige of this sound, safe and popular institution. As told in the chapter on banks and banking, appearing in this work, the law of 1904 required the banks to use the word of "state" in the name of any institution organized under the state banking laws, and this change was made in the name of the Hardin County Bank. When it was converted into a national bank in 1908 and the Hardin County Savings Bank was organized to handle business not pertaining to national banks, Mr. Duren also became president of that bank. In 1906 the Providence State Bank was organized at New Providence and Mr. Duren became president of that institution, and he still holds the presidency of all three banks, the large success of each being due principally to his wise counsel and judicious management.

Mr. Duren was married on June 1, 1868, to Gertrude E. Whiting, of Dubuque, and a native of South Brookfield, Massachusetts, a lady of culture and refinement, and the representative of a fine old New England family, being the daughter of Rev. Dr. Lyman Whiting, a well known and influential minister in the Congregational church, who was preaching at Dubuque, Iowa, at the time of Mr. Duren's marriage. It is worthy of notice that the father of Mr. Duren, the father of his wife and the father of his mother were all ministers in the Congregational church.

Two sons and three daughters were born to Mr. and Mrs. Duren. The first two, sons, being twins, died when a year and a half old, then a daughter died at the age of four years. The other children are Mabel and Fanny; the former married J. T. Harnett and lived in Eldora until her death, in October, 1907; Fanny is librarian at the public library in Waterloo, Iowa.

Mr. and Mrs. Duren are members of the Congregational church, of which he has been clerk since 1869 and a deacon for a number of years and is a liberal supporter of the same. Politically, he is a Republican and has manifested an abiding interest in public affairs. In 1878 he was elected treasurer of the city of Eldora, which office he held until 1881, when he was re-elected and he has discharged the duties of the same most worthily ever since, having been treasurer the greater portion of the time since Eldora became a city.

Personally, Mr. Duren is a pleasant gentleman to know, kind, generous, honest in all relations of life, easily approached and unassuming, consequently he is eminently deserving of the large success he has attained by his own efforts, of the confidence reposed in him by all and of the high esteem in which he is held."

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