Snarky McSnide says, The Seminole County Bank


The Seminole County Bank


The bank was located at the Southwest corner of First Street and Magnolia Avenue. Atop the front of the bank building was the head of a Seminole Indian.  It has disappeared along with all memories of the bank.


Just after the City election in the late summer of 1927, and just after the mob threatened to burn down the house of the owner of this newspaper, the bank's operations were suspended by the State on August 6.


The bank was the fiefdom of the Mayor of Sanford, Forrest Lake. The story of the rise and fall of Lake and Sanford was somewhat fictionalized by Sam Byrd in his book, Small Town South.

(Sam got out just in time, he only lost 50 cents when the bank expired)


Mayor Lake, himself, had borrowed $353,780.20, more than three times the capital and surplus of the bank and was overdrawn in his checking account by $1,682.12.


Another key bank employee had loaned himself $47,692.24.


The biggest overdraft was F. F. Dutton in the amount of $139,402.49.


Left holding the bag when the bank went under were the City of Sanford, the Chase National Bank of New York City, and numerous local depositors.


The bond trustees of the City of Sanford had a savings account. It showed a  balance of $500,000.


Even Fifth-Third Union Trust Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio was on the hook for $7,050. (Part of that bank's collateral was a note for $2,000 guaranteed by the Sanford Herald)


To put these figures in today's perspective, according to Dollar Times, multiply by 13.93.


Thus Mayor Lake's $353,780.20 would now be $4,928,158.19.


Sanford and its citizens weren't the only locals to suffer.  The Town of Osteen lost $11.85. The Osteen Chamber of Commerce lost a total of $104.55.  Apparently Osteen never recovered from its loss.


As banks folded around the state, the legislature passed laws making the goings-on secret.  The records were kept under lock and key in Tallahassee.  A successful lawsuit finally opened the vault after sixty years.  The sad tale is recounted in the book, Panic in Paradise.


In Georgia which also had numerous bank failures, the banking authorities solved the secrecy problem in another way.  To keep the public from ever finding out what happened, they burned the records filed with the Great State of Georgia.

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