As part of the sesquicentennial celebration, the Mason Chamber of Commerce welcomes Mason friends and neighbors to its fall mixer at the Commercial Bank on September 25 at one of the square's oldest businesses.
Historic times....Historic people.........As Mason celebrates its 150th Birthday, the past and present feature some interesting parallels. When Bobbie McMillan took a job as a bookkeeper for the Commercial Bank in 1970, she never dreamed she would one day be president of the locally owned, hometown bank. Named as president and CEO in 1993, she holds a unique position in banking as a "Woman" bank president in the Texas Hill Country, and for that matter, in the State of Texas.
In this way, she is similar to Anna Mebus Martin, "A woman before times," who founded the bank in 1901 and was the first woman bank president in the entire United States. Coming to Texas from Germany in 1858 at the age of fifteen, Anna was a pioneer who helped to civilize the area during a life span that included Indian Raids, the Civil War, World War I, good and bad. After taking over the Hedwig's Hill post office, general store, and a stage station on the San Antonio-El Paso stage route after the death of her husband in 1879, Anna Martin faced dramatic times and situation with strong financial and business skills. Her store at Hedwig's Hill was the largest provider of barbed wire in the state and one of the first to have electricity.
When Anna Martin opened the bank in 1901 on the square in Mason, the building had no vault, so Anna's son, Max, would take the money home every night for safekeeping. A regular procedure at the bank was to get your bank book balanced by leaving it at the bank on one visit and picking it up the next after the bookkeepers had recorded all the canceled checks and deposit slips.
Times have changed...........
"The bank still has the same style and the same name after 107 years, which you don't see very often," said Bobbie McMillan. "We still call people by their first names, have a deep commitment to the community, and value hard work, safety, and honesty."
When McMillan first joined the bank, Mason's economy was based primarily on agriculture which has changed and expanded as Mason has become a "Destination" for recreation, second homes, history seekers, and those who want an escape from the hassles of the city.
In the tradition of Anna Martin, McMillan went on the relate, the bank tries to be on the cutting edge. "Technology has been one of the bank's biggest changes in the last forty years," said president McMillan, "To insure that we keep up with the times."
Mason, Texas, got its first telegraph in 1868 and first phone in 1902, innovations appreciated by Anna Martin.
She would certainly be amazed at what the commercial bank offers today, internet banking, debit cards, and "wiring" money across the United States.
The bank still honors the first symbol of the bank, The Longhorn, selected by Anna Martin because it had strength and adaptability for the tough times. With the bank's five-star rating, The Commercial Bank intends to keep the Mason tradition alive of serving the Community on the square.