Home Celebrating 150 Years!

Celebrating 150 Years!

HCSB 150 Years Logo

Together With You Since 1868!

Check here often for information on events and historical information about Hardin County Savings Bank.


Message from CEO and Chairman of Board, Jim Brown

David Vander Wilt, President

Thanks for coming by our website to learn more about our rich history.  You'll find some fun reading about the bank and its colorful history (and characters). You’ll also find information about our celebrations  Follow us on Facebook each Monday to go back in time and learn of the happenings of 1868.  We also invite you to stop in the bank to see our treasured ledgers and keepsakes. We look forward to celebrating all year with our faithful energetic staff and loyal customers!


We are discovering that indeed it is our history that defines and shapes our future. With that in mind, we will move through 2018 and beyond with a deeper appreciation of our past and an excitement for the future!



Historic Day Tour in Des Moines

In celebration of Hardin County Savings Bank’s 150th we are offering a day trip to several fascinating Historic sites in Des Moines. From the Underground Railroad to millionaires in the making, take a journey inside these Greater Des Moines historical attractions. Step back in time with us as we explore an exquisite American estate and its diverse collections of art, literature and worldly treasurers.

Friday June 22, 2018

$167 per person (due with reservation)

Reservations to christie@hardincsb.com by June 1, 2018


Living History Farms tells the amazing story of how Iowans transformed the fertile prairies of the Midwest into the most productive farmland in the world. While at the 500-acre open-air museum, visitors travel at their own pace through historical time periods spanning 300 years. On-site interpreters provide a unique learning environment of seasonal activities and demonstrations. A specific interest may be the Flynn Mansion. Built in 1870 by Martin and Ellen Flynn, this Victorian Italianate home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Salisbury House and Gardens is a historic house museum, 42-room estate, surrounded by nine acres of beautiful gardens and woodland. It was built from 1923-1928 by cosmetic pioneer and Iowa native, Carl Weeks. Come tour this exquisite American estate and its diverse collections of art, literature and worldly treasurers.

When construction of Terrace Hill was completed in 1869, it was Des Moines’ tallest home owned by its wealthiest man. Now a stunning example of Victorian Second Empire architecture, the 18,000-square foot building serves the dual purpose of the official governor’s residence and a National Historic Landmark

The Historic Jordan House is a Victorian home built in the 1850's. It is an official site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Its 16 rooms tell the history of Senator James C. Jordan and the growth of Historic Valley Junction into West Des Moines.

Day trip includes EVERYTHING!

Admissions for each historic location, Motor coach transportation, a specialty drink at Love a Latte, Lunch at Cracker Barrel and specialty Dinner, driver’s gratuity, AND TREATS along the way! Contact christie@hardincsb.com to make your reservations!




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.


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. 


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