The City of Princeton’s Historical Walking Tour plaque for 525 West Water Street (now the Daiseye store) is among several in the historic downtown district that contain critical errors. At least the construction date of 525 is correct, however, unlike plaques on some of the other older buildings downtown.
The error on the plaque at 525, as in the First National Bank plaque at 501 West Water (now the RiverBank Dry Goods store and discussed in a previous blog post), can be traced to a lack of research of Princeton’s banking history.
Yahr did not found Princeton’s first private bank in 1893. He sold the bank, which he co-founded in 1875, in 1893.
The Montello State Bank of Princeton operated briefly in Princeton about 1859-60, but the first local bank was the Yahr, Thompson & Co. Bank founded in 1875.
Princeton Republic, Oct. 2, 1875: “An institution long needed in Princeton has at length been supplied. For years past our businessmen have talked about the necessity of a bank to the business interests of our growing village, but no permanent steps were taken until recently, when the Messrs. F.T. Yahr, J.M. Fish (attorney) and A.E. Thompson (attorney and co-publisher of the Republic) … took hold of the matter.”
Yahr bought out his partners in 1881 and operated it for the next 12 years as the private banking house of F.T. Yahr.
Princeton Republic, Oct. 27, 1881: “An arrangement was recent consummated by which F.T. Yahr becomes sole proprietor of the bank.”
Yahr sold the bank in 1893 when it organized as Princeton State Bank. He issued the following announcement on May 4:
“To my friends and the patrons of the Bank of F.T. Yahr: A meeting of the business men of Princeton, Wisconsin, has this day been called to organize a State Bank in place of the private bank owned and operated by myself and Eugene F. Yahr and known as the ‘Bank of F.T. Yahr.'”
Now, some people involved with the walking tour and historical society might say, does it really matter if a business was founded in 1875 or 1893?
My answer remains a resounding YES! When dealing with our most historic buildings and businesses, accuracy certainly matters!
We’ve corrected seven of the downtown plaques already in this blog, and there are more to come.