This article originally appeared in the Garland/Mesquite section of The Dallas Morning News on May 12, 1995.

By Michael R. Hayslip

Thomas N. Hickman was a public-spirited civic booster who built the biggest bank and maybe the biggest house in Garland at the time. Unfortunately, he lost them both.

In 1895 Hickman started the city’s first bank, Citizens National Bank, inside an unimposing frame building with upstairs living quarters. But in 1899, when fire cleaned out sufficient structures, including his, to create an open square, Garland’s only bank occupied a new one-story brick building at the north end of the square’s east side.

A short time later he constructed one of the city’s lavish Victorian gingerbread homes on property at Main Street and Glenbrook. In back was a barn and living quarters for chickens.  Like currency, the three-story house was painted in tones of green.

Without benefit of deposit insurance or other indemnity of any kind at the time, bank customers relied solely upon the character and ability of a bank’s officers and directors to safeguard accounts. Hickman’s solid, positive image personified the monetary ideals of the town, and he must have been justifiably proud.

But early-day financing was sometimes more treacherous for the banker than it was for the individual customer, since he often had more invested in the institution than the customer had deposited in his account. Without any hint of dishonesty or incompetence a bank was often ensnared by collateral price fluctuations that dissolved the security behind loans and wiped out the investors’ capital.

Such was the case with Hickman and his Citizens National Bank immediately after the close of World War I, when farm prices collapsed. Garland’s first bank became Garland’s first bank failure.

Outside investors renamed the bank in its same quarters and recapitalized it in 1919, so that no depositor suffered loss. But Hickman himself was ruined and soon left town. Despite his civic leadership, nothing was ever named to honor him.

The house was bought by M. D. Williams, who occupied it with his family for several years, then demolished the structure in 1927 to make way for his funeral home, which stands there today.

Garland Texas's first bank

Photo caption:

A Citizens National Bank float in the 1911 Garland Stock Show parade stands in front of bank president T. N. Hickman’s home, located on the present site of Williams Funeral Directors.  Beside the “16 Years Old” sign is future Garland mayor Ray Olinger, also 16 at the time.