On February 19, 1851, Pemiscot County was organized out of New Madrid County with Gayoso as the County Seat. In 1857 Caruthersville was laid out by G. W. Bushey and Colonel John Hardeman Walker. It was named in honor of the Honorable Sam Caruthers of Madison County, Representative in Congress, who aided in the legal establishment of Caruthersville. In 1898 Gayoso being imperiled by the caving riverbanks, Caruthersville was voted the County Seat and all records were moved there in 1899.
On March 29, 1934, in the law office of Robert L. Ward, Sr., seven men met as directors representing 34 stockholders to organize formally the First State Bank of Caruthersville, The first Board of Directors were Robert L. Ward, M. R. Rowland, John L. VanAusdall, Joe Kohn, Walter Bernard, S. Crews Reynolds, and Charles G. Ross.
Mr. Ward was elected President and presided over the meeting. Coming to the area when he did, he saw the area go through many progressions. He saw its boom-time during and just after World War I; and then he saw it in the depression of the late Twenties, which hit this area hardest in the early Thirties. He saw businesses fail, farmers lose their land and the three Caruthersville banks close their doors. He was glad to have a part in restoring financial solvency to the area by joining the movement toward a new bank in Caruthersville.
Following Robert Ward, Sr., during the following decades the bank experienced leadership from Morrison R. Rowland, John L. VanAusdall, S. Crews Reynolds and Horace Dunagan, Jr.
Horace Dunagan, Jr. joined the bank in the 50s and served in various positions, then President and later Chairman of the Board. After Horace Dunagan’s death in 1987, the Board elected Duane S. Michie as Chairman of the Board and President. Duane Michie was serving as President of Bank of Hayti, a nearby bank owned by the same primary shareholders. Duane Michie was a local community leader and provided the leadership through the years as First State Bank and Trust continued to be a strong financial leader in the community. Management maintained a mission statement of providing the best in financial services.
With the end of the century on the horizon, First State Bank and Trust embraced new opportunities for growth. In 1995, First State opened its first branch in Sikeston. Gordon Waller joined the management team in establishing the Sikeston Branch located at 750 South Main Street.
In 2003, the second branch office was opened at 710 W. Business 60, Dexter.
By mid 2004, Gordon Waller was elected President/CEO of First State Bank and Trust. Although First State was owned by a multi bank holding company, management pursued the advantages of merging with the other two independent banks the holding company owned – Bank of Hayti located at 805 E. Washington. The Bank of Hayti’s charter dated back to 1902.
Farmers Bank of Portageville located at 301 East Third Street was also merged. Farmers Bank of Portageville was chartered in 1905. All three banks had long histories in each community, but were served by the same management team. After careful consideration, the consolidation began with the merger of Farmers Bank of Portageville in late 2004 and then Bank of Hayti in 2005.
First State Bank and Trust Company, Inc. is still owned by First State Bancorp, Inc., and of the 87 shareholders, some are the original shareholder families from incorporation. One of the largest shareholders of the holding company is the First State Bancorp Employee Stock Ownership Plan – the employees. This is a unique feature of First State Bank and Trust.
For over 75 years, First State Bank and Trust Company, Inc. remains a locally-owned financial institution and through the commitment of its officers, directors and employees it continues to be a strong, stable and independent community bank with local management at each location. We consider it a privilege to be located in each of the five communities and look forward to working with our customers & our communities for years to come!