Seward bank celebrates 150 years

Pure Nebraska
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 10:00 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 17, 2023 at 10:46 AM CST
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SEWARD, Neb. (KOLN) - Cattle Bank & Trust is a mainstay in downtown Seward, and it’s played a huge role in the town’s success over the years.

We recently visited with Virginia Cattle, who is 102. She was married to former bank President and CEO John Cattle.

“I’ve always been very, very proud of (the bank),” Virginia said.

It’s not all that often than a bank can celebrate its 150th year. It turns out that Cattle Bank & Trust has many reasons to celebrate.

First, the bank takes plenty of pride in its heritage. Claudius Jones chartered the bank in 1873.

“That makes it the second oldest bank charter in the state of Nebraska today,” current Cattle Bank & Trust President and CEO Ryne Seaman said.

After an illness, Claudius Jones sold the bank to John Cattle and his three sons, who had been farmers in England. John Cattle turned the bank over to his son Walter. Walter’s son Robert joined the bank in 1911, and married the granddaughter of Claudius Jones. Because Claudius Jones founded Jones Bank in Seward in 1883 as well, Cattle Bank & Trust and Jones Bank are linked through family ties. Robert’s son John, served as bank president from 1960 to 1992. His wife Virginia still remembers serving on the bank board.

“Everything was important. And I never missed a board meeting when I was on the board,” Virginia said.

John Cattle Sr.’s son, Jay, became bank president in 1992 and passed away in 2022. Ryne Seaman became president and CEO in 2006, and is the first non-family member to hold the position.

“Virginia’s husband, John Cattle Sr., was my mentor for the first 10 years of my career here at the bank,” Seaman said. When I showed up on his doorstep at 25 years of age, I didn’t think I’d be running the place as President and CEO.”

Another reason why the bank is celebrating is that it continues to be family-owned. John Cattle’s daughter is still involved.

“I remember when we were just a small bank, with just three, four or five people,” Becky Vahle said. “Now we have 49 employees. It’s been fun for me to watch it grow, and everybody is just a family.”

The bank has been in many locations in Seward, but now calls its current building home. Despite new branches in Lincoln, the bank maintains its hometown bank core values.

“Clearly, what we do every day is provide financial services to our customers and community, but in our case, with the family, there are relationships here that have spanned generations that we value very much,” Seaman said. “The bank has always supported and promoted everything that Seward has ever done, whether it’s the pool, or Concordia University, or the library, or whatever. We’ve tried to be very active people-wise in these things, and also help financially with them and support them,” Vahle said.

Staff members play a key role in the success of the bank.

“Our staff is so warm and friendly when people come in and we have people serving on all different committees in town, and I’m just proud of them,” Vahle said.

Even at 102-years-old, Virginia is hopeful for the future.

“I’d like to see (the bank) grow just as it is. In fairness, and helping all types of people,” Virginia said. “I’ve always been so proud, and so has my husband of it, and I hope it continues.”

The current President and CEO plans to continue serving the community with strength and stability.

“When I first started, there were well over 400 banks in the state, and most of them were family owned, independent community banks,” Seaman said. “Today, we are at close to 150, and there are projections we’ll probably get down to 100 in the next 10 to 20 years. Our goal, mission and vision for the future is we want to be one of those 100 banks, independent community banks, family owned by the Cattle family.”