Bank of Jacksonville

June 23, 2020

Since the historic Jackson County Jail was this weekend’s featured stop on Historic Jacksonville, Inc.’s Virtual Walk through History tour, we’re sharing a bit more information about one of the jail’s more distinguished “guests”—the President of the Bank of Jacksonville. In 1907 the Bank had opened on the ground floor of Red Men’s Hall at the corner of California and South 3rd streets. In August of 1920, W.H. Johnson was arrested and indicted on 30 felony counts including misstatement of the bank’s condition, receiving monies in a known insolvent banking institution, false certification of checks, and making false statements to a bank examiner. Johnson was not only bank President and cashier, he was also City Treasurer and deacon and treasurer of the Jacksonville Presbyterian Church. Johnson was convicted and spent 10 years in the state penitentiary. Dozens of prominent citizens were eventually charged with aiding and abetting the defrauding of the bank—including the Jackson County Treasurer. Depositors were both shocked and panicked—bank monies were not insured! In 1930, when the investigation was finally closed and the remaining bank assets liquidated, depositors received at best 17 cents on the dollar. Most lost their life savings; the County lost $107,000.