Meridian Star

March 10, 2013


Citizens National Bank celebrates 125th anniversary

By Terri Ferguson Smith /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Some businesses come and go, and some remain for the long haul. On Wednesday, Citizens National Bank in Meridian celebrated 125 years of holding steady through good times and bad.

    Archie R. McDonnell Jr., president and CEO, said the bank was chartered with about $50,000. Today it is worth more than $100 million.

    The Bank was founded on March 6, 1888, when the Mississippi legislature issued a handwritten charter to a small group of businessmen and farmers who raised $50,000 to open Citizens National Bank in a store on a dirt street in Meridian, according to a history of the bank. "Its early directors and officers built a foundation of trust with its customers that would be put to the test during the Great Depression."

    "A lot of people, over that 125 years, have put their blood, sweat, tears, and work into making this bank what it is through the Great Depression and through the last couple of recession cycles that we have had, McDonnell said. "We're blessed to have a lot of great employees who are continuing that tradition of coming to work every day, caring about the people in Mississippi and in Meridian and Lauderdale County — doing their jobs. That's what allows us to continue to do this."

    The average corporation, he said, has a life cycle of about 25 years.

    "It's a special thing for the bank to be in existence for 125 years and for me to be able work, essentially, in the same place all my life," McDonnell said.

    Although Citizens National Bank continues to be headquartered in Meridian, it has bank locations in Quitman, Philadelphia, Columbus, Macon, Carthage, Kosciusko, Southaven, Olive Branch, Madison, Flowood, Ridgeland, Laurel, Hattiesburg, and Waynesboro with more than $1 billion in total assets.

     Community banks, he said, can offer more than larger, national banks.

    "It's having people who care about other people and taking care of other people financially. You have to work at that. The big banks don't have that," McDonnell said. "We are a local community bank. Our market is Mississippi. We're not outside of Mississippi."

    Many people who live here do so because it is home and they love living here, McDonnell said. Those are people who appreciate having a community bank, he said.

    "All those 'too big to fail' banks," he said. "They're not in Mississippi, by design. They know Mississippi is not the wealthiest state in the nation so that creates a niche for us. That makes us important to the state because every dollar that you place in this bank is reinvested back into your home, my home, our home."

    The bank's vault is the original vault that was in the bank in 1888. When a new location was constructed on 22nd Avenue, the building was constructed around specifications for the vault. The vault door alone is more than 21 feet in circumference, 15 inches  thick, and weighs 28,000 pounds.