Around the turn of the 20th century, state senator and owner of the Witmer Steele Lumber Co., Charles Steele, saw the need for a local bank “people would feel comfortable with” in his hometown of Northumberland, Pennsylvania. His idea caught on with his friends and community leaders. By 1903, the name, The Northumberland National Bank, had been chosen, funds were raised, and the bank charter was granted. The first official board meeting of The Northumberland National Bank took place in September of 1903 at the Republican Club in Northumberland. At this meeting, Charles Steele was elected bank president and G.R. Van Alen, vice president. Other members of that first board of directors were C.M. Howell, E.G. Van Alen, John Colt, William H. Mertz, H.F. Geise, Harris Seff, W.R. Bright, and M.H. Taggert.
The Northumberland National Bank opened for business in the fall of 1903 in a store front building on the corner of Queen and Water Streets. The bank was immediately popular, drawing customers from both Northumberland and Sunbury. But Mother Nature did not cooperate with the new bank’s endeavors. The frigid winter of 1903-04 brought an ice jam in the Susquehanna River so severe that the bridge between Sunbury and Northumberland was destroyed, leaving only the railroad bridge intact. And so, for a long time, the only practical way to travel between towns was by train. The fledgling bank survived this setback and grew strong in the ensuing years, which was fortunate as there was a far worse storm to weather in the not-too-distant future, but this one was not of Mother Nature’s doing.
The crash of the stock market in 1929 and the reactionary “run on banks” had a devastating effect on local banks. Pre-1929 Sunbury had three banks, and Northumberland had two. By the time the dust settled, only the Northumberland National Bank and one Sunbury bank (now BB&T) had survived. Not that it had been easy. The Northumberland National Bank had to raise $30,000.00 to stay afloat. But Charles Steele and his board reacted quickly by selling 1,000 shares of bank stock at $30.00 a share to get the needed funds. The bank weathered the worst of the storms for the banking world and never closed its doors, not even for one day.
Since its beginning, the bank was moved twice, finally settling permanently in its present location on Front Street. As times have changed, so has the bank, adding customer conveniences such as drive through banking, ATMs, telephone banking, and internet banking. But some things unique to The Northumberland National Bank are, and will remain, the same, such as staying true to the bank’s founder’s goal of “a bank that people feel comfortable with”. This is embodied in the bank’s slogan “Our Customers Always Come First”.
Over 100 years later the bank has continued to grow and prosper by expanding to neighboring communities as customers in the Greater Susquehanna Valley seek a financial institution that offers old fashioned community bank service from personal bankers who know and understand their needs.