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How It All Started For First National Bank of Las Animas

vintage photograph of bankers in colorado show how it all started

In 1901 our founders took a step of faith to start the First National Bank of Las Animas. Faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Our founders stepped out in faith in more ways than one. So here’s how it all started…

The bank’s founding required obedience, strength, wisdom, faith, and hard work with no guarantees it would all go well. But they believed in the people of Colorado and stayed on mission to serve communities as a responsible citizen and to practice Christian principles in caring for our employees, members of our communities, and the customers we serve.

That mission and optimism since 1901 still serves the wonderful people of Colorado from all directions east, west, and south of the Arkansas Valley and north along the majestic Front Range.

Flashback to 1901

Assuming you are not sitting in History Class today you may appreciate a little refresher on U.S. History in 1901. Sharpen your pencils because here we go.

The 1900 census reported the United States population at just over 76 million. (In comparison our current U.S. population is over 327 million.)

Movie theaters did not yet exist. Neither did vacuums. You could root for the Cleveland Blues or the Boston Americans in baseball. And in 1901 New York became the first state to require automobile license plates. The fee? One dollar.

In 1901, Teddy Roosevelt assumes the office of the President after President William McKinley’s assassination at the Pan-American Expo in Buffalo, New York.

At that time the population of Colorado is 539,700 people and the state is only 25 years old.

Our Beginnings in 1901

We celebrate our founding in November of 1901. That year the Comptroller of Currency issued charter #6030 to the organizers of the First National Bank of Las Animas and it was approved to open with $50,000.

In 1901 Las Animas was home to 4,500 residents and a hub of activity in the valley with new brick buildings rising from the ground. The railway station, the Santa Fe Trail, and the Fort Lyon Canal made the valley a fertile, gorgeous part of the nation to call home.

When we opened our doors at the turn of the 20th century we joined three other banks in town. Of those original institutions only ours remains today. We are grateful to still serve later generations of some of the same families who joined us when we chartered over one hundred years ago.

FNB Before the FDIC

An editorial in 1901 about the First National Bank of Las Animas stated, “The directors of the new bank are known to be conservative and successful businessman of the highest integrity; they represent ample capital making it one of the strongest institutions of the valley. We wish the new bank success and predict for it a prosperous career.”

We appreciate their kind words and we are proud to congratulate them on an accurate prediction.

We are also humbled to reflect on our history and all of the changes we have encountered. It is amazing to think that we chartered our bank 12 years before President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act into law.

Our mission has always been to serve our communities as a responsible, supportive citizen and to practice Christian principles in caring for our employees, members of our communities, and the customers we serve.

Because of the optimism of the bank’s founders in 1901, thousands of families, farmers, ranchers, and businesses thrive today from the Arkansas Valley, to areas east, west, and south of our founding, and then north along the majestic Front Range.

Grit, Faith, and Determination

We were blessed by the hard work and determination it took First National Bank of Las Animas to serve our customers through the Great Depression 1929-1939 and the Agricultural crisis of 1980-1990. During the Ag crisis we raised capital and strengthened our bank to help our farmers, ranchers, individuals, families, and businesses survive an era of strain and stress.

With complete optimism in our community and our pioneering state in 1982 we formed our holding company First Bankshares of Las Animas to serve as a solid foundation for growth and service to Colorado. In 1990 our shareholders and officers saw fit to acquire the facility and deposits of Otero Savings and then in 1993 open our second office as the First National Bank of La Junta.

Not quite ten years later we embraced an opportunity to serve more Coloradans and opened First National Bank of Monument in the growing Tri-Lakes area along the Front Range. At that Grand Opening we raffled off a Chrysler PT Cruiser. People in town still talk about that purple car that was all the rage in 2002.

During The Great Recession of 2007-2009 we are proud to report that we did not take government funds (TARP) even though we were encouraged to do so and we never stopped lending during that period.

We have been blessed in the last fifteen years to add the First National Bank of Fowler and the First National Bank of Ordway and First National Bank of Rocky Ford to better serve our customers in the communities where they work and live.


Even though over almost twelve decades have passed since our founding we still operate with the same principles. We value our employees and communities and seek to be honest and helpful in all of our actions.

Our customers are our friends, our teachers, our neighbors, the people who build our homes, cut our hair, and grow our food. We work hard to show our customers that our relationship with them matters a great deal to us.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. ICBA “community banks added more than 700 offices between June 2017 and June 2018, whereas non-community banks shrunk by 384 offices over the same period.”  We aim to be right where you need us, when you need us.

New Office

To that end we are building our seventh office, the First National Bank at Flying Horse, this year for the community members of northern Colorado Springs. At all of our offices we want you to have a relationship with your bankers, tellers, and your loan officers. We want to know you when we see you at the school play, the 4-H meeting, or under the Friday night lights.

Our offices stand as a symbol of the same optimism of our founding in 1901 and our solid commitment to customers and the amazing state of Colorado.

Stop By

We know life is busy, but if you can spare a minute, please stop by one of our locations and say, “Hi.” We would love to hear what’s new with you and it seems we always have something sugary to share.

If we haven’t met you yet, please come on in. We would be happy to shake your hand and see how we can help. Or you can give us a call or reach out on Facebook or Instagram.

We are a proud community bank and Member of the FDIC, Equal Housing Lender.