The National Bank of Commerce in New York

Bank of Commerce in New York, 1839

Bank of Commerce in New York (1839-1865)
04/01/1839 Established Bank of Commerce in New York (1839-1865)
1865 Convert Federal National Bank of Commerce in New York
04/01/1900 Acquire By Merger National Union Bank of New York, The
03/01/1903 Acquire By Merger Western National Bank of the U.S. in New York
04/01/1929 Succeeded By Bank of Commerce in New York (4/1929-5/1929)
05/04/1929 Merge To State Guaranty Trust Company of New York
04/24/1959 Name Change To Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York
11/10/2001 Merge To State JPMorgan Chase Bank
11/13/2004 Convert Federal JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association
New York Bank History B /

Founding directors of the Bank of Commerce in New York: James Brown, Isaac Carow, James Donaldson, Archibald Gracie, James Kent, Robert B. Minturn, Russell H. Nevins, Pelatiah Perit, John Rathbone Jr., Robert Ray, Samuel B. Ruggles, Charles H. Russell, John Austin Stevens, Jonathan Sturgis, Peter G. Stuyvesant, Samuel Ward, and Stephen Whitney. "Among the articles of association is one which declares that every Director shall be a citizen of the United States of America, and shall hold at all times in his own right at least one hundred shares of the capital stock of the Association," which cost $100 each. (Free Banking. Boston Courier, Jan. 17, 1839.)

Charles Handy Russell

Charles H. Russell was born in Newport, R.I. in 1796. His father was Major Thomas Russell, who served in the Continental Army under the Marquis de Lafayette. He began as a clerk with Charles Potter. He and his brother, William H. Russell, went into the dry goods business as Charles H. Russell & Co. He was one of the founders of the Bank of Commerce, as served as president from 1865 to 1868. He was a director of the Boston and Providence Railroad, and the Hudson River Railroad, later the New York Central. He was married to Ann Rodman of Providence, then to Caroline Howland; their children included Charles Howland Russell and Samuel H. Russell. (Obituary. New York Times, Jan. 22, 1884.) Ten shares of the stock of the Chemical National Bank were sold at auction by order of the executors of his estate. They went for twenty-five times their face value of $100. 220 shares of the National Bank of Commerce were also sold. (Bank Stock Sold High. New York Times, Jan. 29, 1885.) Mrs. Charles H. Russell was a manager of the Memorial Cancer Hospital. (Report of the Cancer Hospital. New York Times, Apr. 25, 1896.) His daughter, Joanna Hone Russell, married John Winthrop Auchincloss. (Mrs. J.W. Auchincloss. New York Times, Mar. 21, 1933.)

John Austin Stevens, Yale 1813

John Austin Stevens was born in New York City in 1795. He was a partner in his father's business house, Ebenezer Stevens' Sons, since 1818; a member of the Chamber of Commerce since 1820, and President of the Bank of Commerce from its organization in 1839 until 1866. He had three brothers who also graduated from Yale; his son John A. Stevens Jr. graduated from Harvard in 1846. (Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale, 1870-1880, p. 162; Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, 1805-1815, p. 606; Obituary. New York Times, Oct. 20, 1874.)

Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale, 1870-1880, p. 162 / Google Books
Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, 1805-1815, p. 606 / Google Books
John Austin Stevens, 1874 / New York Times

His brother, Alexander Hodgdon Stevens 1807, got his M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1811. He was a trustee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons 1820-1826, Professor of Surgery 1826-1837 and 1840-1844; and President 1843-1855; and President of the American Medical Association in 1848. (Obituary Record, Yale 1859-1870, p. 298.) His second wife, Catharine Morris, daughter of James and Helen (Van Cortlandt) Morris, was a Royal descendant of James I, King of Scotland. (Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, Vol. VI, Septemeber, 1805 - September, 1815. By Franklin Bowditch Dexter, 1912, p. 148; and Americans of Royal Descent. By Charles Henry Browning, 1891, p. 552.) His son, Ledyard Stevens, Scroll & Key 1864, was the father-in-law of John De Koven Bowen. (Obituary Record of Yale Graduates 1926-1927, p. 22.)

Obituary Record, Yale 1859-1870 / Internet Archive
Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, 1805-1815, p. 148 / Google Books
Americans of Royal Descent, p. 551 / Google Books
Obituary Record of Yale Graduates 1926-1927 / Yale University Library (pdf, 346 pp)

His brother, Byam (Bryan) Kerby Stevens 1811, married Frances, a daughter of Albert Gallatin of Switzerland. (Obituary Record, Yale 1859-1870, p. 340.) His son, Alexander Henry Stevens 1854, was cashier and vice president of the Gallatin National Bank, president of the Sixth National Bank, and vice president of the Astor Trust Company, one of whose daughters was the widow of Adolf Ladenburg [and mother of Mrs. Preston Davie]. (Obituary Record of the Graduates, Yale University 1915-20, p. 270.) Another son, Frederic William Stevens, Skull & Bones 1858, was a director of the Chemical National Bank 1871-1928; Gallatin National Bank 1871-1912; the Bank for Savings since 1886, and a trustee of the Bank of New York & Trust Co., 1872-1922. (Obituary Record of Yale Graduates 1927-1928, p. 11.)

Obituary Record, Yale 1859-1870 / Internet Archive
Obituary Record of the Graduates, Yale University 1915-20 / Internet Archive
Obituary Record of Yale Graduates 1927-1928 / Yale University Library (pdf, 366 pp)

Henry F. Vail

Henry F. Vail was born in New York City in 1812. His father was Cyrus Vail, "a sea Captain, whose vessel plied between New-York and European ports, and was employed in the maritime service of the United States during the war of 1812." He was educated at Joseph Hoxie's private school, and joined Fisk, Grinnell & Co., later Grinnell, Minturn & Co., as a clerk. He was in business with his brother was James E. Vail, later chief accountant of the New York Life Insurance Company, in Niles, Mich. for three years. He returned to New York to become a clerk of the Bank of the United States, until President Jackson withdrew the federal funds from it. In 1841, he became teller of the Bank of Commerce, left in 1851 to organize the Bank of the Republic with G.B. Lamar, and returned. He was Cashier of the Bank of Commerce until 1878, when Robert L. Kennedy retired, when Vail was elected President. He was also Vice-President of the Louisville, New-Albany, and Chicago Railroad Company. His sons were James E. Vail Jr.; Henry Vail, receiving teller in the Bank of Commerce; Robert M. Vail, agent of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company; and one of his daughters was Mrs. Charles H. Stebbins. (Obituary. New York Times, Sep. 23, 1881.)

Stephen Whitney

During the War of 1812, there was an embargo on shipping which depressed the price of cotton. "At that time, as our readers are aware, Florida was one of the provinces of Spain, and Amelia Island, north of the Saint John's River, was the boundary line between the United States and Florida. Mr. Whitney, having purchased immense quantities of cotton at Savannah, Georgia, and New Orleans, for little more than an 'old song,' sent his purchases to Amelia Island, whence they were shipped to Europe in neutral vessels." He continued this throughout the war, and made a fortune of $600,000. "He was a near and dear friend of Henry Clay, and when that great man visited our city, Mr. W. always had a generous talk with him, and they often dined together. For Mr. Clay's advancement, Mr. Whitney liberally contributed his money, and to the day of his death he continued in the ranks of the 'Old Line Whigs.'" He was born in Derby, Conn. Four sons died during the previous four years, Samuel, Henry, Stephen and Edward, with only one, William, living. His three daughters married Mr. Dorr [Dore]; J.W. Phoenix, member of Congress; and Henry Suydam. His wealth was estimated at at least $12 million. (Death of Mr. Stephen Whitney. The Charleston Courier, Feb. 23, 1860.) During the panic of 1837, he bought real estate in New York City distressed prices, and became a millionaire. (Obituary. New York Herald, Feb. 17, 1860.) The New York Times reported, "It is said that the last time Mr. Whitney signed his name was to this memorial," from a number of New York City millionaires whose real estate represented a value of "more than one hundred millions of dollars," for the formation and enforcement of a sanitary system. (From Our Albany Correspondent. New York Times, Feb. 27, 1860.) His son, William Whitney, married Mary Stuart McVickar. (Whitney, Stephen (1776-1860). Whitney Research Group, accessed 11/15/09.)

Whitney, Stephen (1776-1860) / Whitney Research Group

Stephen Whitney's son Henry Whitney graduated from Yale in 1830, trained as a lawyer, and was admitted to the bar in New Haven. He married Hannah Eugenia Lawrence, daughter of Isaac and Cornelia (Beach) Lawrence of New York City, "and settled on an ample estate in the outskirts of New Haven, where he indulged his taste for agriculture and the breeding of fine stock." She died in 1844, and he remarried to Maria Lucia Fitch of New Haven. After his death in 1856, she married Nathan A. Baldwin. (Biographical Notices of Graduates of Yale College... Later Than 1815, p. 215.) Henry Whitney's son Stephen married Margaret L. Johnson, daughter of Bradish Johnson, who died in 1884. (Died. New York Times, Nov. 19, 1884; Whitney, Henry (1812-1856). Whitney Research Group, accessed 11/15/09.) Then, he married her sister, Louisa. (Seven Couples United. New York Times, Apr. 30, 1886.)

Biographical Notices of Graduates of Yale College Later Than 1815 / Internet Archive (pdf, 432 pp)
Whitney, Henry (1812-1856) / Whitney Research Group

Cornelia, another daughter of Isaac Lawrence, married James A. Hillhouse [Yale 1808] of New Haven, the son of U.S. Sen. James Hillhouse, and a Royal descendant of Edwyn, King of the East Saxons. (Americans of Royal Descent. By Charles Henry Browning, 1891, p. 531.) Nathan Adolphus Baldwin, who married Maria L. (Fitch) Whitney, widow, was a Royal descendant of Louis IV, King of France. He was descended from John Baldwin, a founder of Milford, Conn., who married into royalty. (Americans of Royal Descent. By Charles Henry Browning, 1891, p. 455.) Stephen Whitney's daughter, Caroline, married Nathan A. Baldwin after their respective spouses died. (Baldwin-Crane. New York Times, Apr. 25, 1891; Died. New York Times, Nov. 17, 1905.)

Americans of Royal Descent, p. 531 / Google Books
Americans of Royal Descent, p. 455 / Google Books

Stephen Whitney and N.A. Baldwin were directors of the Central Union Company, whose purpose was to consolidate the management of several Ohio railroads. Russell Sage was claimed to be behind the plan. (To Manage Ohio Roads. New York Times, Feb. 11, 1890.) Stephen Whitney was an usher at Robert Palmer Huntington's marriage to Helen Gray Dinsmore. (Huntington-Dinsmore. New York Times, Jun. 2, 1892.) He died in New Haven in 1905. (Died. New York Times, Sep. 5, 1905.) Louise L. Johnson Whitney died at her summer home in Maine in 1915. (Obituary Notes. New York Times, Aug. 6, 1915.)

Henry Whitney 1830's grandson, Stephen Whitney, graduated from Yale in 1908. He was a member of the board of governors of Mory's Association 1917-1920, 1925-1928, and 1929-1930. (Bulletin of Yale University, Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University Deceased during the Year 1929-1930, p 292.) His widow married Dr. Milton C. Winternitz. Dr. Samuel Harvey was best man. (Mrs. Whitney Weds Dr. M.C. Winternitz. New York Times, Apr. 7, 1932.)

Yale Obituary Record 1929-1930 / Yale University Library (pdf, 398 pp)

Stephen Whitney 1908's half-sister, Louise Lawrence Whitney, first married Hugh T. Dickey. The ushers were Francis Hillhouse of New Haven, Edward Morrell of Philadelphia, Newbold Edgar of New-York, and Charles Dickey, a brother of the groom. George B. McClellan was best man. The wedding haul was estimated at $30,000. (Dickey - Whitney. New York Times, Apr. 4, 1888; In Flashing Diamonds. Boston Daily Globe, Apr. 4, 1888.) Hugh T. Dickey Jr. died at age 28. (Died. New York Times, Mar. 12, 1891.) A few years later, Louise married Charles D. Dickey, Jr., "a cousin of her late husband," at Grace Church, whose seating capacity was "taxed to its utmost." Norton Goddard and Lawrence Whitney were ushers, and Benjamin R. Kittredge was best man. (Yesterday's Weddings. New York Times, Mar. 15, 1893.)

The National Union Bank

1893 Established National Union Bank of New York, The
04/01/1900 Merge to Federal National Bank of Commerce in New York
04/01/1929 Merge to State Guaranty Trust Company of New York
04/24/1959 Name Change to Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York
New York Bank History N /

The National Union Bank was founded by directors of the New York Guaranty and Indemnity Company and its successor, the Guaranty Trust (Samuel D. Babcock, G.G. Haven, R. Somers Hayes, Augustus D. Juilliard, Richard A. McCurdy, Henry H. Rogers, H. McK. Twombly, and William C. Whitney); and Frederick P. Olcott of the Central Trust, along with Tobacco Trust financier Oliver H. Payne, with whom Olcott had had dealings; and Joseph D. Crimmins, a contractor and President of several NYC surface railroad lines. Joseph C. Hendrix, formerly a newspaper editor, congressman and president of the Kings County Trust Company, was the President; and Edward D. Leech, a former Director of the Mint, was the Vice President and Cashier. It moved into the former offices of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. in the Mutual Life Building, 32 Nassau Street. (This Bank Well Backed. New York Times, May 26, 1893.)

National Bank of Commerce in New York

In 1903, the National Bank of Commerce purchased the Western National Bank of the United States. "The interesting details of the physical transfer were taken up on Monday, the day when officially the merger was to have effect. They involved carrying some $16,000,000 of cash, of which $12,000,000 was in gold and $67,000,000 of securities in bags and boxes from the Western National Bank Building, on the northwest corner of Nassau and Pine Streets, to the building of the National Bank of Commerce, correspondingly situated at Nassau and Cedar Streets. It was a simple process, and one which attracted but little attention from the passing throngs." The transaction was explained as a merging of the interests of two of the most powerful financial forces in the country, the Equitable Life Assurance Society and the Mutual Life Insurance Company. (Big Interests Merged in Bank of Commerce. New York Times, Oct. 7, 1903.) The "new directors" from the Western National, however, included a substantial number with ties to the Guaranty Trust.

Directors of the Western National Bank, 1890: Brayton Ives, President; V.P. Snyder, Vice President; Edward J. Berwind, Charles J. Canda, William N. Coler, Jr., Chauncey M. Depew, Louis Fitzgerald, Marcellus Hartley, Henry B. Hyde, F.O. Matthiesen, John E. Searles Jr., Sidney F. Tyler, William C. Whitney. (Display Ad 8. New York Times, Nov. 19, 1890 p. 7.)

Directors of the Western National Bank, 1898: Charles J. Canda, Juan M. Ceballos, William N. Coler Jr., Chauncey M. Depew, Marcellus Hartley, Henry B. Hyde, Brayton Ives, John Howard Latham, Gen. Thomas H. Hubbard, John E. Searles, Valentine P. Snyder, Sidney F. Tyler, Dr. James H. Parker. (Annual Bank Elections. New York Times, Jan. 12, 1898.)

James S. Alexander

James S. Alexander was president of the National Bank of Commerce between 1912 and 1915, and also a director of the Bankers Trust Company of New York. In 1916, he was one of the guests at the Tobacco Summit hosted by American Tobacco Company financier Thomas F. Ryan. (Thomas F. Ryan Is Host. New York Times, Feb. 18, 1916.) He was Chairman of the National Bank of Commerce at its merger with the Guaranty Trust in 1929.

Benjamin Strong Jr.

"Mr. Strong, a son of the late Benjamin Strong, governor of the Federal Reserve Bank, was a sophomore at Princeton when he left in March, 1917, to enlist in the American Field Service. Because of his war sevice he later received a diploma from Princeton University as of the class of 1919. Following the war, Mr. Strong traveled around the world and in 1921 entered the employ of the National Bank of Commerce. During his employment there he studied at the Wall Street Division of New York University. The following year he spent in London as a member of the staff of J. Henry Schroder & Co., private bankers. In 1930 he became assistant vice president of the Bank of Manhattan Trust Company, the position he now holds." In 1931, at the age of 34, he was one of an "unusually young" trio who were elected to the New York University Council, along with Col. Allan M. Pope, president of the First National Old Colony Corporation of Boston, whose brother, Bayard F. Pope, later became a director of Benson & Hedges shortly before it merged with Philip Morris; and George Emlen Roosevelt. Fred I. Kent of the Bankers Trust Company was president. (Three Financiers Join N.Y.U. Council. New York Times, Nov. 3, 1931; Named for New Term on Council of N.Y.U. New York Times, Nov. 14, 1941.)

National Bank of Commerce in New York, 1913-1914

There were 3,030 total shareholders, with J.P. Morgan holding 500 shares. The largest shareholders: William Waldorf Astor, 1000; George F. Baker, 10,500; H.P. Davison, 1100; Equitable Life Assurance Society, 24,700; P.J. Goodhart & Co., 1480; Mary W. Harriman, 5650; A. Hemenway of Boston (Morris Gray and Julius C. Gray, trustees of estate), 1075; Alexander J. Hemphill, 2010; James N. Jarvie, 1215; Augustus D. Juilliard, 2000; Kidder, Peabody & Co., 1175; J.P. Morgan Jr., 1100; J.P. Morgan & Co., 7800; Levi P. Morton, 1500; Mutual Life Insurance Co., 17,294; John D. Marston, 4900; Edward T. Nichols, 1000; Northern Finance Corp., 1500; Thomas A. Reynolds, 3175; Thomas F. Ryan, 5100; J. Sanford Saltus of Paris, 4382; A.H. Sanford, 1700; Jacob H. Schiff, 1000; Harry O. Smith, 1500; V.P. Snyder, 1000; H. McK. Twombley, 1250; Frederick Thornley Jr., 1500; Paul M. Warburg, 3000; William C. Whitney estate, 1500; George Whittell of San Francisco, 1000; Robert Winthrop & Co., agents, 4900. (Stockholders in Big Banks. New York Times, Jan. 23, 1913.)

Circa 1914, the National Bank of Commerce was the same size as the National City Bank, with $25 million capital. Its largest stockholders, according to Dow, Jones & Co., were: Equitable Life, 24,700; Mutual Life, 17,294; G.F. Baker, 10,000; Northern Finance Corporation 9,300; J.P. Morgan & Co., 7,800; Mary W. Harriman, 5,650; E.J. Berwind, 5,650; T.F. Ryan, 5,100; R.W. Winthrop Co., agents, 4,900; S.J. Saltus, 4,757; T.A. Reynolds, 3,175; P.M. Warburg, 3,000 (since sold his holdings); A.J. Hemphill, 2,000; A.D. Juilliard, 2,000; J.J. Gerdan, and lesser amounts by J.F. Goodhart & Co.; J.N. Jarvine, F.A.V. Twombly; Kidder, Peabody & Co.; J.P. Morgan Jr.; L.P. Morton; H.B [?] Davison; W.W. Astor; J.H. Schiff; V.P. Snyder; G. Whittell; and E.T. Nichols. (Banks' Stock List Full of Surprises. New York Times, Sep. 23, 1914.)

National Bank of Commerce in New York, 1928

Directors of National Bank of Commerce in New York, 31 Nassau Street, Feb. 28, 1928 (prior to its 1929 merger with the Guaranty Trust): James S. Alexander, Chairman; John W. Davis of Davis, Polk, Wardwell, Gardiner & Reed; Henry W. de Forest, Chairman, Southern Pacific Railroad; John T. Dorrance, Pres. Campbell Soup Co.; Edward D. Duffield, Pres. Prudential Insurance Co.; Charles E. Dunlap, Vice Pres., Berwind-White Coal Mining Co.; Lewis Gawtry, Pres. The Bank for Savings in the City of New York; Angus D. McDonald, Vice Chairman, Executive Committee, Southern Pacific Co.; George E. Roosevelt of Roosevelt & Son; Charles B. Seger, Chairman, Finance Committee, Union Pacific System; Frederick P. Small; Valentine P. Snyder, retired; Harry B. Thayer; James Timpson; Stevenson E. Ward, President; and Thomas Williams of I.T. Williams & Sons. (New York Times, Mar. 8, 1928 p. 35.) Vice President J. Howard Ardrey, who became a vice president of the merged firm, was a vice president of the John D. Rockefeller Jr.-founded Dunbar National Bank (Rockefeller Jr. Forms Negro Bank in Harlem; To Be in Dunbar Apartments, Which He Built. New York Times, Aug. 15, 1928 p. 1.), and a Deacon of Junior's Park Avenue Baptist Church.

"The merger plan was worked out by Myron C. Taylor, chairman of the Finance Committee of the United States Steel Company, and Henry W. deForest, chairman of the board of the Southern Pacific Company, and is said to have been initiated by Thomas W. Lamont." (Largest Bank in U.S. Created by Two-Billion Commerce-Guaranty Merger. Bankers' Magazine, Mar. 1929.)

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