By Arvilla Pritchard
The Bank of Cattaraugus celebrated 130 years of doing business with a gala reception and dinner recently at the Springville Country Club.
The Bank of Cattaraugus is pictured, possibly in the 1920s, in the photo above.
Guests included the bank's directors, officers and staff, as well as many family members and friends.
The dinner was preceded by a get-together at the Cattaraugus home of Patrick Cullen, bank chief executive officer, and his wife, Joan. Their four children, Tom, Joe, Tim and Colleen all attended, along with their spouses and children.
Fittingly, Cullen was also celebrating a milestone of his own - 30 years as the bank's CEO with an additional 11 years spent working for the bank in other capacities. Cullen followed in the footsteps of his father, L. Edward Cullen, who served as a director or officer of the organization for a total of 46 years.
After dinner, Cullen entertained his guests with an abbreviated history of the bank.
He traced its earliest beginnings, back to 1831, saying that in those days, the owners were primarily tradesmen - lumbermen, tanners, or cheese makers. Blacksmiths, knife and cutlery makers, store owners and flour and sawmill operators, also figured in the bank's history, with a state Senator, Assemblyman, judge or attorney thrown in.
At the conclusion of Cullen's remarks, he was surprised with an unexpected photo presentation dreamed up by his wife and their daughter, Colleen Young. They enlisted the help of Marc Pritchard, local photographer and electronics expert, who pieced together a montage of images that encompassed most of the bank's history. It portrayed a nostalgic trip back in time, taking viewers from the late 1800s to the present and showcasing many of the people who had served the bank in various ways through all those decades.
The Bank of Cattaraugus is unusual in several respects. Not only is it one of the oldest banking houses in New York state, but if one traces its history all the way back to its 1831 origins in Otto, N.Y., it could be considered one of the oldest in the country. It remains independent.
The bank's employees, all of them local, hire on to stay. Many have been there as long, or longer, than its president. The same can be said for the board of directors and officers.