Hamilton Bank, North Scituate
The Hamilton Bank was chartered in January of 1849* as a reorganization of the former Scituate Bank, which had spent much of the previous decade moribund and under investigation by Rhode Island’s banking commission (click here for the full story).
The History of Scituate, R.I. provides these details about the bank:
“Its career was short-lived and unhappy. In May, 1849, obviously and suspiciously insolvent, its affairs called for an investigation. A committee of six— three members of each branch of the General Assembly— was appointed to examine its affairs, and given power to ‘send for persons and papers.’ These investigations disclosed that the bank had become involved in fraudulent scheming through the medium of the ‘Mechanics Bank of the City of Providence’ with out-of-state speculative interests on a scale which would have defrauded stockholders and depositors of all their investments. Investigations also uncovered the interesting fact that ‘…the charter granted in 1818 does not contain the clause in more recent charters making the private property of stockholders liable to creditors…’ The bank was placed in receivership in June, 1851, the Cashier and President directed to turn over such assets as existed to the receiver, and liquidation was completed by June 1, 1852.
“The officers of the bank in June, 1851, were given as Jonah Titus, President, and Luther Waldron, Cashier, and the directors Jonah Titus, Jonathan Whaley, Horace S. Patterson, Russell Wilbur, Luther C. Warner, Olney B. Steere, Almond M. Paine and Alexander Allen. Among these the name of Jonah Titus is noteworthy. He was the first resident lawyer of Scituate, moving into the town from Connecticut, and becoming a freeman on May 8, 1824… He was an ardent reformist, and became the candidate for Attorney General on the Suffrage party Electoral Ticket of April 18, 1842, which nominated Thomas W. Dorr for Governor.** He was thus associated with that remarkable and tragic figure in two phases of a career…” — Hedley Smith, The History of Scituate, R.I.. Connecticut: Racine Printing, 1976. (This book is an adaption of a manuscript by Cyrus Walker, written between 1900-1912.)
According to Roger Durand’s Obsolete Notes and Scrip of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations, all notes dated 1850 at Scituate (and not 1849 at North Scituate) were issued by racketeers. The last three notes below, a $1, $2 and $5 bill, are examples of such spurious notes.
On fraudulent notes the name of “H. Crouch” appears as president and “A.H. Brown” as cashier, but there is no record that any such persons were ever officers of the bank. (Titus and Waldron are the only recorded executives of the Hamilton Bank.)
* Durand and Charles Carroll’s Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy date the name change from the Scituate Bank to Hamilton as 1841, while its official charter and other records put the year at 1849. Whichever is correct, it’s clear that the institution did not function, nor did it issue currency between those years.
** Jonah Titus did not win the 1842 election for attorney general, though Thomas W. Dorr did become governor.