Bert L. Gardanier is a well known Kansas banker, being vice president and now acting president of the Central National Bank of Ellsworth. This is one of the best managed banks in Kansas and had long occupied a position on the honor roll of Kansas national banks.
It was established as the Farmers and Merchants Bank in 1884, first opening for business in a small room in Ellsworth November 3, 1884, with a capital stock of $7,000. The first depositor was D. A. Burns and the deposits at the close of the first day’s business were less than $1,000. At the end of the following year deposits had increased to a little more than $25,000, and the capital was then raised to $50,000 and a national charter taken out. This charter bears the date of February 1, 1886, and at that time the name was changed to the Central National Bank. In the meantime the bank had entered its new two story brick building just opposite the site of the present handsome bank structure. A rapid growth and development then set in at Ellsworth, the quarters proved too small, and in 1887 the institution was moved into what was then known as the Insurance Building. This served the purposes until the spring of 1902, when the bank bought the building located on its present site and formerly occupied by the First National Bank. After remodeling this banking room was occupied until August 1, 1914. At that time the deposits had grown to more than $800,000 and a better home was practically a necessity. In 1915 the present building of the Central National Bank was dedicated to use. It is one of the fine banking homes of Kansas, a structure designed in the classical style of architecture, exclusively for banking purposes, and with space and equipment sufficient to anticipate the needs of many years to come. Besides the regular banking quarters there is a safe deposit department, and also what is known as the farmers’ meeting room, where a gathering of 100 people may be accommodated and frequently used for such assemblages as farmers7 unions, commercial clubs and meetings of various boards.
A bank, like every other institution, must stand for something, and there is something significant in the poliey of the Central National Bank as officially stated as follows: “The policy of the bank had always been to employ its funds at home and thereby foster the growth and development of the community. The industrial efforts of the county being confined almost exclusively to the production of those great staple articles of commerce, grain and livestock, we have had and shall continue to have absolute faith in the future of the country.”
Before the bank entered its present handsome quarters its resources had passed the million dollar mark. It still retains its capital of $50,000, but the surplus fund now aggregates $100,000, with undivided profits of $75,000 and deposits, according to a recent statement, of $1,300,000.
The office of president had been successively filled since 1884 by M. Gray, C. F. McGrew, G. W. Clawson, M. P. Westfall, H. Rammelsberg, B. S. Westfall and George T. Tremble, who had been president since 1908. Mr. Tremble’s home is in Kansas City, where he is vice president of the Fidelity Trust Company. Mr. B. L. Gardanier, vice president and acting president, was first connected with the bank as assistant cashier in 1908, became cashier in 1910, and during 1909-10 served as vice president. The other vice president at the present time is E. D. Schermerhorn of Wilson, Kansas. The cashier is W. H. Holt, and the assistant cashiers are R. L. Guldner and A. H. Barofsky. While the bank is a general banking institution, it handles vast amounts of cattle paper.
Mr. Bert L. Gardanier was born at Marengo, Michigan, April 13, 1871. His paternal ancestry was Holland Dutch and settled in Pennsylvania in colonial times. His great-grandfather was Adam Gardanier, a native of Pennsylvania, who died near Toledo, Ohio. The grandfather, Jacob Gardanier, was born in Pennsylvania in 1814 and was a pioneer farmer in Southern Michigan, where he died in 1881. He married Mary Dixon, born in Pennsylvania in 1815, and died at Marshall, Michigan, in 1891. Of their children only one is now living, C. D. Gardanier, a retired merchant, miner and contractor living in Salt Lake City, Utah.
C. A. Gardanier, father of the Ellsworth banker, was born at Marengo, Michigan, in 1840, grew up and married there and spent his active life as a farmer, until he removed to Marshall, Michigan, in 1872, after which he was engaged in the transfer business until his death in 1912. He served as alderman and supervisor of his ward in Marshall and for a number of terms filled the office of city marshal. He was a democrat, a Royal Arch and Knights Templar Mason. C. A. Gardanier married Arvilla Adams. She was born in Chenango County, New York, in 1842, and died at Marshall, Michigan, in 1909. Of their three children only Bert is now living, he being the second in order of birth. Alton, the oldest, died in infaney, while Martha, the youngest, died unmarried at the age of twenty-two.
Bert L. Gardanier secured his early training in the public schools of Marshall, Michigan. He was a very studious boy, since the records of the schools of that eity show that when he left his studies at the age of fifteen he had finished all but the last term of the local high school course. Since that early age business as been his study and the object of his strenuous endeavors. He worked as general delivery clerk in the Marshall postoffice, was promoted to mail clerk, and afterwards filled a clerical position with the medieal concern of Page & Company. In 1891, at the age of twenty, he began banking at the very bottom round of the ladder in the Commercial Savings Bank at Marshall. He was assistant cashier and remained there until he came to Ellsworth, where on April 1, 1908, he was made assistant cashier of the Central National Bank. Mr. Gardanier was promoted from cashier to the office of vice president in September, 1916.
This by no means describes all his business interests. He is a director in the Wilson State Bank and the Bank of Holyrood, owned an interest in 3,000 acres of lands in Northwestern Kansas in Graham and Norton counties, and had an individual farm of 280 acres in Bourbon County. His fine modern home is on North Lincoln Avenue in Ellsworth.
While one of the busiest of men Mr. Gardanier does not neglect the call of public duty. He is now acting city treasurer of Ellsworth, is president of the city council, and while living at Marshall, Michigan, was recorder of the city two terms and mayor two terms. Politieally he is an independent democrat, and is a prominent Mason, being affiliated with Ellsworth Lodge No. 146, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, is past high priest of Ellsworth Chapter No. 54, Royal Arch Masons, is past eminent commander of Saint Aldamar Commandery No. 33, Knights Templar, is past thrice illustrious master of Council No. 9, Royal and Select Masters, belougs to Isis Temple of the Mystie Shrine at Salina and had affiliation with Marshall Lodge No. 179 of the Knights of Pythias, of which he was at one time treasurer.
Mr. Gardanier married at Marshall, Michigan, in 1895, Miss Alice Westfall. She is the daughter of Myron P. and Mary (Briggs) Westfall, both now deceased. Her father was a banker at Wilson, Kansas, and as already noted was president of the Central National Bank of Ellsworth from 1889 to 1891. Mr. Westfall died in Michigan. Mr. and Mrs. Gardanier’s one child, Bernadine, born November 14, 1897, is now finishing her education in the Finch School for Girls at New York City.