The Anatomy of a Territorial …|
February 20, 2013
This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter
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I get a lot of reader emails and am often asked what draws me to a particular note for my collection. That is normally a hard question to answer, as there are myriad factors many of which are purely subjective. However, since I did put a lot of analysis into looking for a nice territorial national for my collection, I thought you might find it interesting. So, for your edification and reading pleasure, I bring you “The Anatomy of a Territorial.”
Now, I must admit that I was rather lax when it came to adding a territorial national to my collection. In my earlier dealing days, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was more about buying and selling and less about collecting. Accordingly, when a few territorials came my way, out they went. When I started collecting Brown Back nationals, with an emphasis on the $5 denomination, I began to rue the fact that I had not purchased a territorial note when they were more available and affordable. When I finally decided to go after a territorial I used a reasoned analysis—you may or may not agree with all my points—but I will try and explain my logic as we go.
What did I want in a territorial? I looked at what mattered to me: condition, pen signatures of both bank officers, Old West appeal, with the word “territory,” and finally, age (pre-1910). From the very first, I decided that Hawaii territorials were out. They were simply too common and had, in my opinion, no Old West appeal. Every large Hawaii note is a territorial, and there are hundreds of them.
I had to exclude those territorials that were simply too rare and/or costly. These included Washington, Idaho, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska. I wanted to get a lot of bang for my buck, but didn’t want to spend a fortune. I also wanted a note that was in nice condition.
So which territories were possibilities? The remaining available territories included: Colorado, Dakota Territory, Indian Territory, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah. So, with these in mind, I had to look at my parameters. I wanted something early (pre-1910), something Old West, and something that actually said “territory.” You may be thinking that all territorials have the word “territory,” but that is not the case. In fact, the only notes that actually say “territory” on them are First Charter notes and Series of 1882 $5 Brown Backs and Date Backs. The others, including higher denominations of the 1882 Series and all 1902 notes, simply have the abbreviation “Ter.” So, that information narrowed my search. I have included some photos of these designations for comparison.
I decided to eliminate the First Charters en masse. My thinking went as follows: they are generally too expensive, and the ones that aren’t are very low grade. In addition, First Charter notes are very busy. There is so much design crammed on the face that the word “territory” is not emphasized. I was already a collector of $5 Brown Backs and thus it only seemed logical that this should be my choice. This eliminated Colorado (statehood in 1876) and Utah (no $5 1882 Series notes known). I was now down to Dakota, Indian and Oklahoma territories, and New Mexico.
The Dakota Territory proved to be a problem. There were only 15 $5 Brown Back notes known (and no Date Backs, the Dakotas achieving statehood in 1889), of which five were serial No. 1, thus I had to eliminate this as impractical. Of the remaining three territories, one clearly stood out as the most desirable. This was, of course, Indian Territory.
Of all the territorials, the Indian Territory was the only one not to become a state under the same name as their territories (with the Dakotas adding “North” or “South.”) While notes from Oklahoma Territory and New Mexico Territory were desirable, they could not match the lure of Indian Territory.
Since the Indian Territory was merged with the Oklahoma Territory to form the state of Oklahoma in 1907, all of the notes would be pre-1910. Additionally, of the 11 territorial $5 Brown Backs from New Mexico, eight are high-grade notes from the First National Bank of Raton—and I didn’t want a hoard note.
I was thus decided on a $5 Brown Back on the Indian Territory. No matter how you slice it, it is hard to escape the evocative nature of having the words “Indian Territory” on your National Bank Note. Having reached this conclusion, I set out to see what I could find.
I saw that there were 31 reported $5 Brown Backs on all Indian territorial banks. Of these, eight were serial No. 1 notes (with four being part of the uncut sheet from Marlow), leaving 23 notes. Then the problem became grade. Finding a nice attractive note was going to be difficult. In addition, I insisted on legible pen signatures for both the cashier and president. After eliminating the low grade notes as listed in the census, it appeared only 10 VF or better Indian Territory $5 Brown Backs were known.
I waited around to see what came up for sale. And waited. And waited some more. What I saw were low-grade notes, many with no signatures at all, or at best, illegible stamped signatures. When a nice grade note from Vinita came up at auction, it brought plenty, and was very poorly cut at the bottom margin. After waiting for a period of years, with nothing of interest presenting itself (I should note that during that period some attractive $10 and $20 notes were available, but I was insistent on having a note that actually said “territory”), I more or less gave up, figuring, as I often did, that eventually one would come my way.
It wasn’t quick in coming, but come it did, on a sleepy Sunday at a small local show when a local dealer friend showed me a note he had obtained from a coin shop contact in a city hours away. When he opened the envelope and slid the note to me, I saw a wonderful $5 Brown Back on the First National Bank of Eufaula, Indian Territory. It was a bright and fresh note, a solid Very Fine, with beautiful pen signatures of the bank president, C.E. Foley, and assistant cashier, E.G. Bailey. Under the cashier’s signature was the date “10-12-03,” the date the note was signed. The note was in all likelihood the first note signed by that assistant cashier, who then kept it as a souvenir.
My friend inquired as to what I thought the note was worth. I told him that I really couldn’t say, since I was really looking for a note just like it for my collection. He promised to research it some and give me first right of refusal. In the end, I bought the note, paying a little more than I wanted but delighted to have been able to finally find an Indian territorial $5 Brown Back that fit my needs. But it got better…
None of you who have read these “Hotz off the Press” columns for the past decade would find it surprising that I would want to see if I could locate a photo of the bank from which the note emanated. Was it still standing? I went into Internet search mode and eventually found a photo postcard view titled “one of Eufaula’s hotels,” which shows a beautiful bank corner and the adjacent Hotel Foley. The bank is a three-story affair, with a large cupola. Foley happened to be the name of the bank president signed on my note.
Who was Foley? Cornelius E. Foley came to Indian Territory from St. Louis in 1871 at the age of 18. At the time, he was employed by J.S. Atkinson, a merchant who had the contract to provide supplies for the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad, which was building across Indian Territory that year. Foley settled in Muskogee when the railroad reached this location, and a few years later he went to work for James Patterson in the mercantile business. He proved to be such a valuable employee that Patterson sent him to Eufaula to open a mercantile there. Sometime in the 1890s, Foley bought out Patterson’s interest in the store. He grew this business to become one of the most successful in Eufaula.
The Hotel Foley was another prominent Eufaula business, and Cornelius also organized the Eufaula & McAlester Telephone Co. He was a founding director of the first bank in Indian Territory and also had a hand in organizing the Muskogee Phoenix newspaper. C.E. Foley served as Eufaula’s first mayor after it incorporated in 1898. He was re-elected several times, and in one election received every vote but one (probably his own).
An interesting side note about Foley is that in 1910 his family traveled to England for an extended stay. They were planning to return home in 1912 on a new luxury liner about to make her maiden voyage. But, at the last minute they had to cancel their travel plans because one of their sons came down with the mumps. It was a most fortunate case of mumps, for the ship they planned to sail on was the Titanic. When the contents of the Titanic were salvaged a few years ago, bank notes from the Foley bank in Eufaula were found on it. Apparently their luggage had been placed on the ship even though they did not make the trip. C.E. Foley died in 1944.
This was pretty neat information. I searched further and found a modern photo of the First National Bank building and Foley Block. Amazingly, it was hardly changed from the 1910 photo, save for the fact that the bank is now the home of Eufaula Jewelers. It was hard to imagine a more attractive bank building for my territorial note, and it was a thrill to see it still stands. But it got better…
By dumb luck I found the photo that pulled it all together, that made my Eufaula territorial full of the Old West history that I wanted. For I found a pre-1907 photo marked “Moriarty Phot. Eufaula, I.T.”, which showed the front entrance of the bank and the adjacent hotel. A group of well-dressed men stands in front of the bank, and before them are seated a large group of Indian women and children. The photo legend says it all: “Indians Waiting for Payment First National Bank Eufaula, I.T.”
And there you have it, the anatomy of my territorial national. From the teenager who came to the Indian Territory, found his fortune, escaped death on the Titanic and whose notes were paid out to Indians, what more could I ask for? It was a great story to accompany a wonderful note. What stories do your nationals tell?
Readers may address questions or comments about this article or National Bank Notes in general to Mark Hotz directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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