The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Fayette bank now 100 years old

Written by David Green.

By JEFF PICKELL

For the better part of a century, the Sky Bank in Fayette was a business you could set your watch to, quite literally.

Until it was retired four years ago, the clock on the front of the building was the village’s unofficial time keeper since its installation in 1917. The bank has been managing the financial assets of many area residents for much longer—it observed its 100th anniversary last month.

It has had a variety of names, but it began as the Farmers State Bank Company of Fayette, and officially opened on Nov. 10, 1906.

faybank.1 Charles P. Grisier and 11 other stockholders founded the company with an initial investment of $25,000. Grisier served as bank president.

He held the position for 41 years before retiring in 1947, during which time the bank managed to survive the Great Depression and two World Wars and increase its worth 100-fold. A leaflet handed out in celebration of the bank’s 40th anniversary stated that it had $2.5 million at its disposal.

As its assets grew, so did the bank itself. The company has always been located at the northwest corner of Fayette Street and Main Street, but it originally occupied just one small building which ended at the pillar that today stretches from the ceiling to the service desk.

The first major project came in 1917, when a sidewalk was added to the building’s exterior. That same year, the International Red Cross began using the bank’s second floor as an office and used it for the rest of World War I as a headquarters for staging local collection drives.

The bank got its first washroom in 1939, and in 1946, an oil-powered heater was installed. A drinking fountain, night deposit box and air conditioner all followed, but the biggest change came in 1969, when the bank acquired the two buildings west of it and underwent substantial renovation.

The construction proved quite an obstacle to conducting business, remembered Dee Ferguson, who was employed at the bank from 1964 to 1994 and eventually became branch manager. Cashiers had to report to work, pick up their cash drawers from the vault, then head across the street to a vacant grocery. Workers had set up temporary partitions and cubicles to grant loan customers privacy, said Ferguson.

But 1969 is a lot different from 2006, Ferguson explained. An arrangement like that today would pose too much of a security risk.

At the time, though, bank workers were more concerned about searching out an elusive poet who put the following rallying cry in the bank’s night depository:


It will be a couple months now

Before we get our way

And we hope we’re in our new bank

Before next Christmas Day.


Then we’ll have a big Grand Opening

And you all can come and see

That the Farmer’s State Bank in Fayette

Is the best a bank can be!


It has been conjectured, but never proven, that Nancy Myers, a bank worker herself, had penned the rhymes. Earlier that year, she had written a playful poem to announce the birth of her son.

The bank did, indeed, reopen by Christmas and it was big news. The Fayette Review devoted its Dec. 11 front page to the opening celebration and printed 10 congratulatory ads, sponsored by more than 40 businesses and individuals.

After that, the bank’s first drive-through window was open to people who needed to do their banking on the run. The window was actually on the west side of the building—drivers turned into an alley behind the bank and entered a tunnel between two downtown buildings to get to it.

However, there were some logistical problems with the new window. There was only one lane, which worked well most of the time, said Dee, until Friday afternoon came around and the factories let out.

“People would be lined up around the block waiting to cash their checks,” she said.

Additionally, the dark tunnel gave area mischief makers a place to gather at night and vandalism became a problem.

faybank2The bank eventually closed the drive through window, adding the three-lane drive-through in a building just a short walk down Main Street in 1983. Finally, in 1986, the main building was remodeled a second time.

Due to the many renovations the building has undergone, it’s hard to discern just how ancient the bank is at first glance. But a keen eye can spot a few details that betray the building’s age and provide reminders of the business’s rich history.

The circular table in the center of the main lobby has been there since the bank’s opening day. Almost everything about the interior appearance has changed except the table, said branch manager Mike Figgins.

Framed pictures mounted on wells throughout the bank today also provide a reminder of the transformation the bank has undergone. One, just outside branch manager Mike Figgins’ office, shows a dozen or more horses hitched to posts outside all the downtown businesses.

Additionally, the sidewalk just in front of where the drive-through used to be is still ramped so that cars can drive over it, but the tunnel has been blocked off, which is why people new to Fayette might wonder why there is an apparent turn-in to nowhere.


In name, the Farmer’s State Bank Company ceased to be in 1971, when it merged with First National Bank of Archbold. A decade later, that bank merged with the First National Bank of Bryan, and in 1987, it merged with the Mid-American Bank of Toledo. The last name change came in 1999, when the company merged with the Sky Financial Group.

It has taken many names, but the bank is second only to the grain elevator as the longest consecutively operating business in the village.

As former president Walter H. Britsch wrote on the bank’s 50th anniversary, “We look to the years ahead with faith and courage and confidence. We feel our best years are yet ahead. May our associations continue to be pleasant and our ties of friendship be a continued source of strength.”

That sentiment worked at year 50. It still works at year 100.

    - Dec. 13, 2006

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