The building that was home to Commercial Savings Bank until 1957 stands at the corner of Fifth and Main streets in Carroll in this photograph from 1972. The building was demolished in the early ‘70s during an urban renewal project and today that location is home to Carroll 5 Theater.
The building that was home to Commercial Savings Bank until 1957 stands at the corner of Fifth and Main streets in Carroll in this photograph from 1972. The building was demolished in the early ‘70s during an urban renewal project and today that location is home to Carroll 5 Theater.

July 25, 2017

It is hard to believe that the Commercial Savings Bank has been a part of Carroll for 100 years. To tell the story of Commercial Savings Bank is to portray the story of the “Moehn Bank,” and the heart and soul of the bank — Ray Moehn. Along with his wife, Hazel, and sons, grandchildren and great-grandsons, Ray Moehn  established and continues a vital part of Carroll. Ray Moehn loved his town and provided trusted service for financial needs, along with a caring human element, through his bank.  You can feel the warmth of his character and personality as you read about his fair-minded attitude in his banking and his enthusiasm for community activities.

Ray Moehn , a Des Moines native, was the first of four generations of Moehns to direct Commercial Savings Bank of Carroll. Little did he realize the legacy he would leave. Ray began his career in about 1913 at Iowa Trust & Savings and Commercial Savings banks at Des Moines after completing work at Iowa Business College in Des Moines.

He was married to Hazel Murphy Aug. 9, 1911, in Des Moines.  From 1914-1917 Ray owned and operated three theaters in Des Moines and one in West Des Moines. Reports say that Ray brought the first silver screen to Iowa. In 1915 the  Moehns  moved to Carpenter, Iowa, where he purchased the Carpenter Bank, and later acquired a bank at Parnell, Iowa.  Beginning in 1917, Ray was interested in Commercial Savings Bank in Carroll. In 1919 he and Hazel moved to Carroll, where he bought Commercial Savings Bank.  

The bank that would become “Moehn’s Bank,” under the vision and direction of Ray Moehn and his descendants for the next 100 years, was organized in 1917 by Frank Berger, who was the first president.  Berger operated the bank for two years before selling out to Mr. Moehn.  The charter of Sept. 15, 1917, was signed by members D.H. Hedrick, A.C. Johnston, Taylor Guy, H.R. Pascoe, F.P. Berger, J.H. Ingwersen, E.E. Handley and J.S. Light. The articles of incorporation stated that the capital stock of the entity “shall be Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars, and shall be divided into shares of one hundred dollars each.” Minutes of the time stated that shareholders hired Raymond Moehn to be chief executive officer.

Commercial Savings Bank as we know it today has been at home on the northwest corner of Adams and 7th streets since 1957, but the bank’s first permanent location was on the southwest corner of 5th and Main streets.

Commercial Savings Bank formally opened its doors for business on Oct. 31, 1917, in a temporary location — a millinery business on downtown west 5th Street where a safe and other necessary equipment were installed. 

According to a news article of Aug. 29, 1918, when the bank was organized in the summer of 1917 it was planned that at the expiration of Mr. Daugherty’s lease on the property on Sept. 1, the bank would move there. It was the intention of the corner building owner, Taylor Guy, to make extensive improvements, but that had to be postponed on account of labor and other conditions incident to World War I.   J.A. Daugherty moved upstairs of the bank to the former People’s Trust and Savings Bank location. The site is the present location of Carroll Theatres.

Finally in September 1918, the building was ready.   The location was already equipped with bank vaults and equipment since it had been occupied in 1868 as the Bank of Carroll, and from 1895-1910 it served the old First National Bank.   Ironically the building and vaults had survived the great Carroll  fire of 1879 that wiped out the entire downtown area except for the German Bank on Adams Street.  Commercial Savings Bank became the fifth financial institution for the city of Carroll in 1917.

On Nov. 14, 1918, Commercial Savings Bank announced that farm loans would be available locally through the Federal Loan Bank.  To set the scene of the times, this was just after WW I — soldiers were returning home, wanting to start farming. Supplies used in the war were still scarce, and money was tight. The directors appointed F.P. Berger of the CSB to assist in forming a National Farm Loan Association in this vicinity to give farmers the opportunity to obtain loans. The bank was prepared to “close loans promptly at 5 ½ per cent interest and on good terms. Liberal options of payment.”

When Ray Moehn became the sole owner of the bank in November of 1919, the bank had total deposits of $325,000, keeping pace with Carroll’s steady growth in population.  At that time, bank officials began to keep the bank open on Saturday evenings from 7 until 9 o’clock to accommodate the public during the heaviest business hours of the week. Farmers came to town on Saturday night to trade farm products for food and do their other shopping. Many stores at that time paid their “help” on Saturday, and the bank provided a place to cash paychecks so the stores didn’t have to carry a large cash balance over the weekend.  The bank became a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation when that agency came into existence.   

At the time Mr. Moehn bought the bank, it had a capital of $25,000 and surplus of $5,000. Appreciating the generous patronage that it had been accorded, stockholders decided to increase capital from $25,000 to $75,000.   Moehn bought stock at that time and over the years purchased controlling interest. As grandson Pat Moehn would later relate, his grandpa was adamant about the name of the bank — about keeping the “Savings” title in the name, so that people would know and trust that their money would be safe. Pat described the growing bank from board minutes of the time —  “how the board discussed hiring a bookkeeper at $12.17 a week and whether they should contribute $5 to a church group.”   Things were tighter then. Even so, the bank directors had vision and a plan to grow. Directors planned to enlarge the quarters of the bank, expanding out the Taylor Guy building from the north and to the west.  

In 1920 the bank added three fine new gold leaf signs to the outside entrances. Workmen began to tear down the two-sided front of the building, changing it to the single diagonal entrance onto the corner of Fifth and Main. By August, the bank had all the interior fixtures in place and the exterior work nearly completed.  In August 1920 Frank Berger, who had been president of Commercial Savings Bank resigned to move to Sioux City, and Nicholas Neu was elected president.

In April of 1921, a County Bankers Association was organized with all banks represented.  The object was to prevent bank hold-ups and night robberies. Several deputies were hired to be on watch and follow suspicious characters. Telephone “girls” would help by getting out notices as soon as persons were spotted or crime committed.

On Sept. 28, 1922, the officers of the bank were President Nicholas Neu, Vice President  J.S. Light and Cashier R.M. Moehn.  By that time Ray Moehn had been with the bank for three years and was now secretary-treasurer of the Carroll County Federal Land Bank Association.  Moehn became president of the bank in 1923.  He served as president of the Commercial Club, precursor of the Chamber of Commerce during 1924-25. He was elected city treasurer in March 1926 and would hold the position for 20 years.

In the early 1930s, the banks at Dedham and Lanesboro were acquired. Land Bank loans became available on March 27, 1934,  through the bonds of the Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation. In February 1939 the Carroll Rotary Club honored three original charter members on the rolls of 1921, Louis Gnam, Glenn Weeks and Ray Moehn.  In December 1942,  Moehn resigned as secretary of the Farm Loan Association because of additional  responsibilities of the Association and increased duties at the bank. The bank had now grown from a small bank with totals of $250,000 to over $2 million.  Moehn was now chairman of the County Civil Defense Council. His son Robert, assistant cashier at the bank, had recently left for Army service.  Staying on the Association would present a conflict in making farm loans for the bank.    

On Aug. 7, 1946, Commercial Savings Bank announced “100% payment to be made on certificates — that the bank would pay the trust fund in full.”  This meant that holders of trust certificates would receive 100 percent payment on their  deposits.  

The significance of this action was that,  as Pat Moehn, would relate in later years, “After the Depression, laws were passed that said banks were not required to pay back depositors 100 percent.”   Pat noted, “My grandpa thought that wasn’t  right, that even if the bank had no legal obligation, it had a moral obligation to pay back every penny that had been deposited. And grandpa did. He even personally borrowed some money to do that. He paid back every dime. Not many banks in the state or nation did that. And I think that showed he had an awful lot of honesty and character and that he was deserving of trust.”  

That attitude of trust has earmarked the Commercial Savings Bank down through the years.  As Pat Moehn later recounted in an interview describing the continuum of the bank into 1998, “In business and banking, you really want to deal with someone who knows you, and you get that with us. There have been times I’ve made loans over the telephone. I just tell them, ‘Go ahead and write the check, and we’ll do the paperwork when you get here.’”

The Carroll County Civil Defense Program was reorganized in April 1951 during the Cold War era to include plane-spotting. Ray Moehn was named county chairman by Gov. William S. Beardsley, who believed that a vastly expanded ground observer corps was necessary in Iowa. Four towns in the county were designated as sites for airplane observation posts by the state.  

June 1, 1957 — the new Commercial Savings Bank on 7th and Adams streets.

The banking establishment was destined to play into the history of its new location of 627 N. Adams when the new Commercial Savings Bank was built in 1957.  Block 8 on Adams Street, which for many years was occupied by the Carroll Post Office on the Highway 71-Adams Street corner, just south of Northwestern Bell Telephone and the Carroll Clinic on the north corner, was originally partially owned by one of Carroll’s best-known pioneers, William Gilley. Mr. Gilley was one of Carroll County and Carroll city’s founders, owning property and the Colclo Hotel, serving as mayor and a foremost “city father”  in the mid-1880s.

The current bank occupies Lot 1 and part of Lot 2 of Block 8 of the original Carroll Second Addition.  In 1867, William Gilley purchased Lots 1, 2 and 3 of Block 8 from the John I. Blair Town Lot Company.  In 1869 the Gilley family moved into a home located where the bank now stands. In 1875, the three lots were sold to Jim Hatton of Hatton’s drug store. Mr. Gilley bought back the south part of Lot 2 and all of Lot 3 to build his family home, which stood south of the planned bank until 1946.  In 1902 C.A. and Rebecca Daniel built a new home and barn on that corner where Commercial Savings Bank would later stand.  

In 1912, Rebecca Daniels sold the home to John Heider Sr., father of Henry and John Heider, founders of Heider Manufacturing Co. Mr. Heider sold the home to Dr. R.H. Lott in 1924 to become the Carroll Clinic, known  as “Dr. Lott’s Clinic.”   Carroll Realty and Investment Co. acquired the property from Dr. Lott in 1929 and sold it to Dr. Willis L. McConkie in 1948. When Dr. McConkie joined the Anne-Mar Clinic, the property was transferred to the clinic and from there sold to Commercial Real Estate in 1956 for Commercial Savings Bank’s new building.    

The bank moved from the corner of 5th and Main where it had been in the same location for 40 years in May 1957.  By this time the first location originally owned by the late Taylor Guy, a director of the bank, was now owned by Mrs. Ada Beverly, his stepdaughter.

The public was invited to visit the new Commercial Bank on Sunday and Monday, June 2 and 3, 1957.  The grand opening highlighted Carroll County’s first drive-through banking institution. The modern brick and glass building occupies a spacious landscaped lot 116-by-166-feet just north of the Northwestern Bell Telephone building. The bank structure is 75-by-65-feet.  The 1957 bank provided a new section of 1,025 stainless-steel deposit boxes, a first-class alarm system and a modern stainless-steel vault built to provide the ultimate protection for funds and valuables. In 1974, the bank completed a large expansion to the building and moved the drive-through bank to a separate facility just west of the bank.

Commercial Savings Bank had capital of $400,000 in 1957 with a surplus of $200,000. Officers in 1957 were Ray M. Moehn, president;  Robert Moehn, vice president; Frank Liewer, cashier; James Kerwin, assistant cashier; Soren S. Kudsk, assistant cashier, J.F. Wilson, William G. Gross, Frank Liewer, Ray. M. Moehn and Robert Moehn, directors.   At that time,  J.E. Wilson, was manager at the  Lanesboro branch, and  Mr. and Mrs. Harold Rice were manager and assistant manager at  the Dedham branch.

Ray and Robert Moehn were asked to serve on a Citizens Committee in 1957 to study a proposal to establish a community college in Carroll. In 1958, Ray Moehn was one of 40 Iowans named by Gov. Herschel Loveless to a commission on human relations. Ever ready for a new challenge, in 1960, Moehn served as president of a TV Booster Campaign launched to raise $50,000 for a television-signal booster system for Carroll. Moehn provided his well-known enthusiasm to get the Carroll Area Television (CAT) TV program sold and the funds raised through the dedicated efforts of the local Jaycees.

During the busy years of Ray Moehn’s banking career and community service, Ray’s wife, Hazel, was also active in local projects, while raising their two sons, John and Robert.  Her interests centered on children and school issues, community health issues and war-related needs of the times.  Hazel was a leader in the Catholic Daughters of the Americas and in charities such as the Christmas Seals Foundation, the Tuberculosis Foundation and the local Red Cross.

In 1921, Mrs. Moehn, a member of the Civic League, which led many community-betterment programs, gave a brief talk favoring the need for school nurses. For several years, Hazel Moehn was the county chairman of the Christmas Seals sales, which was a fundraising agency for eradication of tuberculosis and other diseases. That was in 1940, the days of the County Health Agency and visiting nurses.

In 1944, Hazel Moehn was part of the War Bond Project as county chairman of parochial school in the “Schools at War” program.  Her responsibility was to visit the schools and encourage participation of the students in buying stamps and bonds. She reported that enrollment in the program was almost 90 percent in all the parochial schools. With their efforts, schools planned to support various supplies, such as buying one parachute, four life boards, one jeep ($1,495) or a number of helmets for the soldiers.

Ray Moehn  passed away on Sept. 14, 1965.  He was touted as an enthusiastic civic leader and a caring human being. He was especially helpful to local Carroll farmers during the Great Depression as a member of the Federal Land Bank. He was active in the banking industry, his church, city government, and the community. He was in his 46th year as president of Commercial Savings Bank when he died of a heart attack at age 76. In addition to the banking associations already mentioned, Ray Moehn was past president of the Iowa State Rural Bankers Association, a member of both the American and Iowa Bank Associations and a three-year director of the Federal Land Bank of Omaha. Additional community agencies that he was a part of included: past president of the Carroll Country Club, member of the Carroll Elks Lodge, the Knights of Columbus and the Carroll Toastmasters Club, and active in the Carroll Area Television Inc.

Hazel Moehn passed away on Saturday, April 1, 1978, in Tucson, Arizona, where she had made her home since 1970. Mrs. Moehn was 84 at the time of her death.  

Robert Moehn succeeded his father, Ray, as president and chairman of the board in 1965 and was president in 1975. The other members of the executive team included: Pat Moehn, vice president;  Frank Liewer, executive vice president;  James F. Kerwin, cashier; and Thomas C. Rogers, assistant cashier. Jack Stangl was manager of the Dedham office. Marge Stangl and Darty Warner were teller-bookkeepers at the Dedham office.

A  news report in 1975 noted that   “during the past year the Commercial Savings Bank completely remodeled its main bank facility. In 1974 the bank doubled its square footage and added the new Commercial Savings Meter Bank, a drive-in facility at 7th and Carroll streets, and a cork wall gallery for display of art work and extra parking space.” The Dedham bank was also remodeled.  As of April 16, 1975, the full service computerized bank’s assets totaled $24,229,426.48.

Robert M. Moehn had joined the bank following his graduation from Creighton University in the 1940s. During his tenure at the bank, Robert Moehn served the community well by his leadership in early urban renewal and the local schools, the hospital and services for people with disabilities. He had served as a past city treasurer, was active in the drive for a new hospital, was a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Elks Club, the Carroll American Legion and the Chamber of Commerce. He was also a past trustee for St. Lawrence Catholic Church.  

Following in his grandfather and father’s footsteps, Pat Moehn has continued his family’s tradition with efforts in economic development and by helping the city acquire successful industries through the Carroll Area Development Corporation. Pat has served in many community organizations including:  the Chamber of Commerce as director and president; a member of the Des Moines Area Community College Foundation Board of Directors; president of St. Lawrence Home-School Board; a member of the Iowa Independent Bankers Association Board; and he received the Carroll Community Service Award in 1984. Pat was instrumental in setting up the Carroll Area Development Office and securing local funding for the program in 1985 and was associated with bringing several new large businesses to Carroll.  

Pat became president of the Board of Commercial Savings Bank in 1986. In 1998 the management in addition to President Pat Moehn included Executive Vice President Paul Milligan and Loan Officers Tom Loeck, Tom Laing, Craig Mertz and Steve Kock.  Thirty persons were then employed at the Carroll headquarters. Noting 81 years of service in July 1998, Patrick Moehn, described the growth of the bank, commenting, “Commercial Savings Bank has thrived. I’d like to think our growth pattern is outstanding. The main thing for us is making banking as convenient as possible for our customers.”     

Pat was elected chairman of the Commercial Savings Bank Board of Directors in 2005 and remains in that position. Additionally, the Moehns’ role continues through daughter Tam Milligan, her husband, Paul, and their sons, Kevin and Ryan, all involved in the banking sector and serving the community.

In 2017, directors of the bank are carrying out exciting plans for a new bank location, to serve in the next era.  In 2019 under the leadership of Pat Moehn, the present bank building will be donated to the City of Carroll to provide for a new community library. It is considered a $1 million gift to Carroll, the special place the Moehn family calls home. A new bank building will be constructed and the third and fourth Moehn generations will continue the banking legacy.

Ray Moehn would no doubt be very pleased to see the state of his bank and how it has met the changes and challenges of the years since he passed away. He would be very proud of his family members and how they have celebrated and added to his legacy.