Family Stories

Samuel Bayard, Biography

from Vanderburgh County, Indiana, Biographies

Samuel Bayard, president of the Old National Bank of Evansville, was born in Vincennes, Indiana.

John F. Bayard, the father, was a native of France, and came to America at an early day. He was a French soldier, and served with the first Napoleon at Waterloo. He married Miss Mary Ann Boneau, of Vincennes, and nine children issued from their union, the subject of this sketch being the first. Samuel Bayard received his mental training in the public and private schools of Vincennes. After graduating he started out to fight life’s battles alone, and secured a position as deputy in the office of the clerk of the circuit court at Vincennes, where he remained for three years. In 1851 he resigned that position, and coming to Evansville, entered the Evansville branch of the State Bank of Indiana, in the capacity of clerk. He was promoted to the position of teller two months later, and remained in that position until 1857, when, by a change in the banking system of the state, the affairs of the State Bank of Indiana were closed. Upon the organization of the Bank of the State of Indiana, Mr. Bayard was chosen cashier of the Evansville branch, and occupied that position until the advent of national banking, which was ushered in by congress during the war. The State Bank was then succeeded by the Evansville National Bank, and Mr. Bayard was appointed cashier. In 1867 he was elected vice president of that institution, and in that capacity, virtually had the management of the entire affairs of the bank. In 1876 he was elected president, and held the presidency of that bank and its successor, the “Old National Bank,” which he organized, down to the present time. He has done more to strengthen the financial institutions of this section than has any other influence, and the reputation that the Old National Bank holds in the financial world, has done more to advertise Evansville, in the way it should be advertised, than any other thing in it. Its capital and surplus exceeds a million dollars. Samuel Bayard is a man of means and affairs, and his operations have not been confined alone to banking. In 1864 he assisted in organizing the firm of W. J. Lowry & Co., for the purpose of doing a banking business. He was one of the stockholders and mainly instrumental in organizing the German National Bank, which was succeeded by the German Bank of Evansville, and was a stockholder and member of the board of directors. In 1870 he was chosen a director of the Evansville, Carmi and Paducah R. R. Co., afterwards consolidated with the St. Louis and Southeastern, and finally became part of the Louisville and Nashville system. He was a director and also a member of the executive committee, which had charge of and controlled the management of the company’s business. He served the Evansville and Terre Haute R. R. Co. as director, and was one of the six stockholders controlling an interest therein. He contributed liberally to the Evansville library association, being one of the citizens that formed that association. He served as its treasurer and afterwards as president. He was entrusted with the important commission of making the first selection of books for the library, and went to Cincinnati in person to purchase the books. For a quarter of a century Mr. Bayard has been a stockholder of the Evansville Gas Co., now the Evansville Gas and Electric Light Co., of which he is treasurer and and largest stockholder. He is an indefatigable worker in all the enterprises in which he is interested. His judgement is regarded as superior, and his advice sought by his colleagues. His prudence and conservatism lend unusual weight to his counsel in all monetary affairs. Mr. Bayard is one of the foremost financiers of this country, and his name has been prominently mentioned for secretary of the treasury of the United States. He is not a politician in the usual acceptance of the term, but by sheer force of character, has obtained a leading position in the ranks of the Republican Party, with which he affiliates. Although Mr. Bayard works as hard as he did three or four decades ago, giving many hours of his time each day to the various enterprises in which he is engaged, he still finds time to devote to his books in his magnificent library, and there finds delightful recreation. He has, perhaps, the largest library in the state, containing a large number of rare and valuable books, the systematic and careful collection of which has occupied many years. Samuel Bayard was united in marriage March 6, 1867, to Miss Mattie J. Orr, daughter of that prominent and influential citizen of Evansville, the late Samuel Orr.

Mrs. Bayard is an active and helpful member of the Presbyterian Church, prominent in charity work, and loved by all who know her. Mr. Bayard is not a member of the church, but attends upon the services of the Presbyterian Church, and is very much interested in the organized efforts for the maintenance and propagation of Christianity. He is one of the most public spirited men in Evansville, and is identified with all public measures looking to the improvement of the city, and the advancement of society. It is known, moreover, among his neighbors, although he has sacredly guarded the fact as a secret that he and his estimable wife are most generous in their donations to the cause of charity, and their liberality toward benevolent institutions is very great, having given something over $20,000 to the Young Men’s Christian Association building fund alone, while their liberality to the worthy poor, in the way of private charity, approaches extravagance.

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