Security Trust & Safety Vault Company (1885-1961)

In 1885, a group of prominent financiers and businessmen headed by Ephraim D. Sayre organized a trust company to act as fiduciary agents, manage financial assets, administer trust accounts and settle estates.  Among the organizers were Squire Bassett (President of the Fayette National), Madison C. Johnson (former President of the Northern Bank), General William Preston (a Civil War hero), Richard T. Anderson (formerly of Headley, Anderson & Co.), Avery S. Winston (President of the First National), Merit P. Lancaster, (Vice President of First National), David D. Bell (of the Northern Bank), Ephraim D. Sayre (of D. A. Sayre & Co.) and Richard H. Courtney (of R. H. Courtney & Co.).

By a special act of the Kentucky Legislature the Security Trust and Safety Vault Company was chartered on March 16, 1886, with an initial capitalization of one hundred thousand dollars.  Legal restrictions at the time prohibited a bank from engaging in “trust activities.”  The company opened for business in August 1886 on the corner of Short and Mill Street.  Judge Joseph D. Hunt was appointed the company's first President.  Shortly afterward in 1888, Ephraim D. Sayre was elected President to succeed Judge Hunt, who left to become President of the Northern Bank.

In 1892, Security Trust acquired the Fayette Safety Vault and Trust Company (which see).  In 1900, the Security Trust Company liquidated the remaining portions of Mr. Sayre's private bank (D. A. Sayre & Company).  Substantial portions of Mr. Sayre’s banking assets were assumed by Security Trust Company.

After Mr. Sayre's death in 1899, Joseph Clark became President and served in this capacity until his death a year later.  In late 1900, William H. Cassell succeeded Mr. Clark as President.  In late 1902, Mr. Cassell announced the formation of a Savings Department to attract deposits from small savers.  Deposits were first accepted on January 1, 1903 and paid three percent interest, compounded semi annually, on all accounts over one dollar.

During 1904 and 1905, Security Trust erected a new building on the original location, the northeast corner of Short and Mill Streets.  The eight-story building was, at the time, the tallest in Lexington.

The Security Trust's financial statement for July 1905 showed total assets of one million two hundred forty five thousand dollars, with deposits of roughly six hundred thousand dollars and capital of six hundred fifty thousand dollars.  Excluded from the above amount were funds held in trust, which amounted to several times as much as the corporate assets.  Security Trust was the largest financial institution in Kentucky, outside of Louisville, and the only trust company in Lexington.

In 1905, the Lexington Herald reported of the Security Trust Company the following:

"It has never engaged in banking, or in commercial discounting commercial paper, being restricted by its charter to loans secured by mortgage or good collateral.

Hence, its business is pre-eminently safe.

By the employment of its funds, however, in loans on mortgage or other good security, it has left available for the banks of the city much of their funds which otherwise would have been tied up in such investments.

The company also issues certificates of deposit for a specified time on which it pays interest and receives deposits subject to check."

Security Trust Company:

The Board of Directors elected to shorten the name in 1907 to the Security Trust Company.  During July 1912, the Security Trust Company came under the jurisdiction of the newly formed Kentucky Department of Banking, created to supervise state banks and trust companies.  Security Trust Company also joined the Federal Reserve System in 1912, which brought the bank under the dual supervision of both state and Federal authorities.

Board of Directors, 1915

From left, George K. Graves, J. Edward Bassett third, William K. Massie fourth.  From right, William H. Cassell at head.  Charles N. Manning third, Richard T. Anderson fourth.

In 1916, Charles N. Manning became President and served until his retirement in 1945.

Advertisement, 1918

In 1920, the bank was appointed to settle the Kentucky portion of the estate of James Ben Ali Haggin, the famed mining operator.  During 1922, the Kentucky Joint Stock Land Bank was formed by Security Trust.

Also in 1922, the bank was also appointed executor of the estate of James K. Patterson, the former President of the University of Kentucky.  In that capacity President Patterson's papers and biography were published.  In addition, the Security Trust administered the development of Ashland Park during the 1920s.  This subdivision was created from "Ashland," the estate of Henry Clay.  The streets between Hanover Avenue and McDowell Road were developed, while the tract around "Ashland" was left intact as a shrine.  The streets were named after directors.

In 1923 James D. Van Hooser, Manager of the Bond Department, became one of the first transcontinental air travelers.  Mr. Van Hooser, with his wife, flew aboard the sixteenth "Airway Limited" from Columbus, Ohio to Los Angeles.  The "Airway Limited" was one of the first commercial passenger airlines in the United States.  The trip took over thirty-five hours (including an overnight train ride) and involved eight fuel stops.  During the refueling stop at Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Van Hoosers met Charles A. Lindbergh (one of the airline organizers).

During the Great Depression, President Manning ignored the bank holiday declared by Governor Laffoon on March 1, 1933.  This order limited all withdraws to five percent of the balance in an account.  Security Trust continued to operate without restrictions until the declaration of the National Bank Holiday on March 5, 1933.  On March 7, the bank partly reopened under sereve restrictions, allowing only necessary withdraws and the full resumption of trust activities.  Seven days later, on March 14th, Security Trust reopened without restriction with the rest of the Lexington banks.

Security Trust operated profitably throughout the Depression, with the only major effect being a drop in the bank's stock price.  Its stock fell to a low of two hundred sixty dollars during 1934 from a peak in 1930 of six hundred twenty five dollars per share.

During the Second World War Edward S. Dabney of Security Trust Company served as the Chairman of the Fayette County War Loan Committee.  Under Mr. Dabney, the committee raised over sixteen million dollars, exceeding every goal set for them.

Edward S. Dabney, circa 1947.

Mr. Dabney succeeded Mr. Manning in 1945 as President and managed the bank until the merger in 1961.  In 1954, a Loan Department was established and in 1958, the Northland Branch was opened on Broadway at Loudon Avenue.  In 1956, Mr. Dabney organized a fund raising drive to establish a Medical School and adjoining hospital at the University of Kentucky.

Board of Directors, circa 1950s.

Left to right:  Nathan B. Hall, Salem A. Wallace, Edward S. Dabney, H. Leroy Austin and Leonard G. Cox, Sr.

In March 1961, the Security Trust Company merged with the First National Bank and Trust Company and formed the First Security National Bank and Trust Company.

William M. Ambrose, First Security National Bank & Trust Company (1835-1992), Limestone Press, Lexington, 2007.