The original 1912 bank building in Friendship. It is still part of Friendship's main office today.
The Friendship State Bank was founded in 1912 by a group of local businessmen and farmers.
The man they chose to manage their new venture was Wilkie S. Lemon, a local farmer whose main background was in horse and cattle trading. Lemon was willing to serve in this capacity, but requested a period of training at the Osgood Bank before assuming his duties.
In April of that year, Wilkie Lemon went to the Osgood State Bank. On October 26,1912, he became the first Cashier and Manager of the Friendship State Bank. He was armed with six months of training and a two-page list of things you need to start a bank (pens, pencils, ledger sheets, etc.).
The first regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Directors took place on November 2, 1912. At this meeting, the first loan application, from the Bear Creek Baptist Church, was approved. The board also agreed that the bank would make no loan for an amount lower than twenty-five cents. They decided to install a telephone as soon as possible-the bank's first step into the "high-tech" world.
Wilkie Lemon justified the faith of those initial investors by his superb management of the bank from 1912 until 1957. It was due to his efforts that Friendship State Bank weathered the Depression of the 1930's, which was catastrophic for so many small banks. Surprisingly, one of the casualties of the era was the Osgood State Bank, which had trained Mr. Lemon.
Sensible growth management has been another hallmark of the Friendship State Bank.
The bank started out in a small building on Main Street, and was added onto several times until it reached its present size. This gradual approach was similarly followed in our expansion to seven other locations- Dillsboro (October, 1989), Rising Sun (February, 1998) Versailles (November, 2000), Vevay (January, 2006), Batesville (January, 2009), Madison (May, 2016), and Lawrenceburg (June, 2016). Each time, the expansion was in response to community requests for service.
In 2016, you will note, we opened two branch offices. The Lawrenceburg office was a long-term goal for the bank for many years and the right location made it a reality. The Madison office was in response to a local community bank in the area being purchased by a larger super-regional bank. Friendship believed that people still desire their banking decisions to be made locally, and sought to offer those services to the people of Madison.
This responsiveness to community needs is reflected in the branch management policy.
Each manager is encouraged to run his or her branch like their own bank, in order to be a true part of the community in which they serve. This personalized approach has been another key element of Friendship State Bank's success at each of our locations.
Recognizing the need for a full menu of financial services, the bank acquired an insurance agency in 2000.
Friendship Insurance is now recognized as a regional-leading insurance agency, with eleven agents convenient to all customers in our market area in our local branches. Most agents have well over a decade of experience, ready to make banking and insurance services a one-stop-shop. Friendship Insurance specializes in property and casualty, as well as crop insurance.
The Lemon family is in its fourth generation of management of the Friendship State Bank.
After Wilkie Lemon's death in 1957, his son James W. Lemon managed the bank until 1992. James William Lemon continued his family's tradition from 1992 until 2016. While retaining the role of Chairman of the Board and President, he turned over the CEO duties to his son-in-law, Christopher Meyer with the start of 2016. Many members of the Lemon family, including Jim’s brother Tracy Lemon, have found careers in the Friendship State Bank since 1912, and the legacy of strong, sensible, community-based banking is in good hands for the future.
The bank's management is also proud to note that more than 120 people rely on Friendship for solid, good-paying jobs.
At Friendship, job retention is high, upward mobility is real, and we boast the best group of community bankers, at every level, that you will come across. Of course, that is our opinion... come on in and see for yourself.