|The Bank of
Tustin and its successor, the First National
Bank of Tustin, were the community’s only
financial institutions for over 70 years in
sharp comparison to the dozen or more now
serving the area.
A. Guy Smith served as president of the Bank of
Tustin. Other directors were Noah Palmer, vice
president; Edwin D. Buss, cashier; Charles W.
Wilson, W. S. Bartlett, H. F. Kendall, Sam W.
Preble, W. W. Martin and C. E. Utt. They built a
handsome, two-story building in the Richardson
Romanesque style of architecture on the
northwest corner of Main and D (el Camino Real)
and opened for business about Aug. 1, 1888.
The bank survived the Panic of 1893 only to
close its doors in 1902 due to what the former
cashier called three mistakes. First, they spent
too much money on their elaborate headquarters.
Second, the small amount of authorized capital
was not paid up, and three, they loaned a large
sum of money to the Tustin Hotel which failed
when its owner, Sanford Johnson, died
In direct contrast, the First National Bank of
Tustin was successful from the day it opened,
Dec. 20, 1911. Organized as a member of the
Federal Reserve Board, its volume of business
grew from its inception and judicious management
soon increased its capital to $50,000, with
deposits of over $400,000.
W. C. Crawford was the first president. John
Dunstan was vice president. The board included
Sherman Stevens, C. E. Utt, Victor Tubbs and
Rufus Sandborn. C. J. Cranston was the first
The bank prospered under Cranston. In 1917 he
sold his shares and position, as well as his
house, to C. A. Vance, a newcomer to Tustin. A
native of Kansas, he had owned a bank there
which he sold in 1912, and moved to Chula Vista,
CA, where he organized the Chula Vista State
Bank. He sold this bank in August, 1916, and on
Jan. 1, 1917, relocated to Tustin with his
family, settling into a large Victorian house on
Main a few blocks west of the business area.
William S. Leinberger, who came to California in
1910 from Nebraska and worked at the Alhambra
Savings Bank, was hired as assistant cashier
about the same time. He also bought a home on
Main Street. These two men were said to “display
their knowledge of the banking business in a
In 1933 when Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a
Bank Holiday to end a run on banks by the
depositors, Vance closed the front doors in
compliance with the President’s edict. However,
he continued to do business from the back door
in the alley and the community was able to brag
that the First National Bank of Tustin never
closed during the dark days of the depression.
Vance and Leinberger with the help of Frances
Logan, who joined the bank as a teller shortly
after they were hired, and Vance's son-in-law,
G. O. Bixler, who was hired later, ran the bank
successfully. The building lost its turret and
other architectural features in the 1936
earthquake and the employees survived at least
three robberies including the last one in which
Bixler shot the culprit, but little else
The First National Bank of
Tustin was a successful and important part of
the community until it was purchased by First
Western in 1959.