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Unwritten History of Mexico

from Mexico Weekly Ledger Nov. 8, 1923 pg 6 cols 3 & 4

 

EARLY BANKING IN AUDRAIN COUNTY, MO

 

            The following article is another in a series being written for the Ledger by S. M. Locke, vice-president of the Southern Bank, on early banking in Mexico. They give many interesting views of early days in Mexico aside from their historical value.

            In my first article regarding early banking in Audrain County, I neglected to mention William Harper as one of the organizers of the Southern Bank. He was for many years its Vice-President. Also omitted M. Y. Duncan, of the Savings Bank, who was afterwards its President. As has been stated, A. R. Ringo was our first banker. He was a native of Kentucky, and his wife was the daughter of Racoon John Smith, a noted preacher of his day. His home was the show place of the town in that day. A handsome Gothic house, fronting on Promenade Street, comprising all the ground now occupied by a dozen or more houses, also the ground now occupied by the Audrain Hospital, Jackson Street, not having been opened. Mr. Ringo was easily the most prominent citizen of the county. He did all the banking business, issued his own money, bought and sold hogs, cattle, mules and horses, and shipped them to market. "As good as A. R. Ringo" was the saying when solvency was spoken of. He was several times mayor, and was very useful in keeping peace between the Federal soldiers and citizens. The old Ringo Bank was situated on the Ringo corner where Gum Null now runs a private bank, besides having time to discuss, Pap Kennan, Charlie Powell and others of his satellites.       Banking business under such circumstances was both easy and profitable. The cashier of the Ringo Bank was John E. Dearing. He was not only a good banker, but the repository of mathematical knowledge in those days. There being no city scales, when a man brought a load of corn to town for sale, he first brought the measurements to Mr. Dearing, who would figure the number of bushels, which would be satisfactory for all concerned. Mr. Dearing was a Presbyterian of the strictest type. He had a brindle dog named Frank, and two boys named Wallace and Elon. No doubt he loved the boys, but his affection for Frank was most pronounced. It was "love me, love me dog" with him. Frank considered every dog in town his natural enemy, and he fought many potential battles safe behind the plate glass window at the bank. When a dog passed Frank would raise such a row that business would be suspended for the time.

            It is said that animals never forget anything. One day John C. Muldrow, the liveryman of the town, also the only auctioneer in those days, was passing. Seeing Frank's evident anxiety to get at a big dog on the outside, Mr. Muldrow took him firmly in the back of the neck and deposited him on the sidewalk. This, it seemed, was about the last thing Frank wanted done. After the scrap he came limping in, a lamer if not wiser dog. At any time after this when Frank would be lying on the inside, seemingly sound asleep, if Mr. Muldrow passed along on the sidewalk, Frank would awake in a most terrible rage, which would continue till Muldrow got out of sight.    

            One of Mr. Ringo's negroes kept up business relations with him long after he was free. George Clark, Vice-President of the North Missouri Trust Company, will remember him. His name was Kit, he had a game leg, and drove a garbage cart for a living. One day Kit dropped into the bank and said, "Mars Bert, please lend me a dollar till Sat'dy. I will pay you sho'." Mr. Ringo threw him a dollar, with the remark, "I'll bet you ten dollars you don't."  "I'll take de bet," said Kit, and went off happy laughing.