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WARNING: Sometimes unscrupulous people attempt to get personal or private financial information from our customers by claiming to be Citizens Bank or even a government agency. We urge you to be extremely careful. Please know that this Bank will NOT ask for any personal or private information over the telephone or internet. We will never ask you to send personal or confidential information via email.


 

Welcome to Citizen's Bank & Trust Company
Big Timber, Harlowton, Ryegate

Jim OverstreetWelcome to Citizens Bank and Trust Company. We are an old fashioned bank in the best sense. Although we offer nearly all of the modern services that people have come to expect, we are primarily about personal service. In fact it’s hard to think about our bank separately from the people who work here. In our communities, our customers soon become our friends.

   Jim Overstreet, President


Core Purpose

We provide high-quality financial services to make credit available to promote the growth and prosperity of our community.

Core Values

We have and demonstrate complete integrity in all that we do.

We will support, sustain and improve the communities in which we reside and operate.

We have and will show respect for all employees, customers, vendors and community members.

We will operate our Bank in a safe, conservative, dependable and responsible way.

CITIZENS BANK & TRUST COMPANY
HISTORY
AREA INFORMATION

The history of our bank traces back to the first financial institution in Big Timber. In 1890 William Shanks and Thomas Lee placed some private funds in an office safe and for a while did a loan business. The following year Shanks helped organize and became Vice President of Big Timber National Bank. In 1913 Big Timber National was reorganized as Commercial Bank and Trust Company. Early day Big Timber luminaries, C.T. Busha and Oscar Nepstad were bank directors. You will note Busha Street in Big Timber and Nepstad Ditch on area maps.


Citizens State Bank was incorporated in 1906. Its principal founder, an Irish immigrant named Charles McDonnell walked into Sweet Grass County behind a band of sheep in the 1870s and became a prosperous land owner, business man, and state Senator. His granddaughter, Mary Ellen Cremer, is one of our current directors.

In 1927, Citizen State Bank and Commercial Bank & Trust Company merged into Citizens Bank & Trust Company. At that time, Anthony Arneson, who had been President and principal stockholder of the Commercial Bank became President of the new bank. Arneson, a second generation American of Norwegian descent, got off the train in Big Timber in 1889 or ’90. For a while, he worked as a hod carrier during the construction of the Grand Hotel. Then, using borrowed money he bought a half interest in a small ranch on Swamp Creek north of town. At the same time he took up a 320-acre homestead on nearby open range. Eventually, he became one of the largest landowners in the area.

Our Continental branch, formerly Continental National Bank in Harlowton, Montana traces its roots back to 1905 when Benjamin Urner started a private bank. This was three years before the Milwaukee Road arrived. In 1906 Urner’s bank was chartered as the State Bank of Harlowton and built a two story building. In 1917 the bank was purchased by Weyburn Security Banking Company and renamed Continental Bank and Trust Company. C. A. Johnson became manager. Norwest Bancorporation purchased the bank in 1930 and renamed it Continental National Bank. A month later, they absorbed Farmers National Bank of Harlowton. In 1947 a group of local investors bought the bank and operated it as an independent bank for over 60 years. In 1998, Continental National opened a branch in nearby Ryegate.

In the summer of 2008, the stockholders of Citizens Bank and Trust Company in Big Timber purchased all the stock from the Continental shareholders and merged the two banks.

 

 



ABOUT CITIZENS BANK & TRUST COMPANY

We are an independent bank locally owned and managed. For most of our history we have had a single location. Now, in addition to our main branch in Big Timber, our Continental branch is the principle financial institution in Harlowton and our Golden Valley Branch is the only bank in Ryegate. Our primary service area is the three counties where we are located but we have customers both from all across Montana and other states as well.

We feel that we have sufficient capital to survive severe economic turmoil. For more information about our financial condition, please click on the Financial Information tab.

MORE ABOUT US

Our jobs as bankers require us to balance the needs of our depositors, with the needs of our borrowers, the needs of our community and the requirements of the banking regulators.

Big Timber and Sweet Grass County, Harlowton and Wheatland County, Ryegate and Golden Valley County are small communities and are great places to live. As bankers our jobs and our lives are intertwined with the lives of our customers. We might meet at the grocery store, at the gas station or in a restaurant. We often serve on boards together, go to church together, and cheer our home teams together.

This puts a lot of pressure on us to get it right.

You may have noticed that there is no mention above of meeting the needs of our stockholders. That isn’t necessary because we have found that when we take care of our customers the effect is to take care of the stockholders as well.

Although we are pretty good people, as bankers go, we are still bankers. As part of a local, national and international financial system, we have to answer to both state and federal regulators. All the rules of banking apply. The difference between us and other bankers is how we use the discretion we have.

In some ways as lenders, we are quite conservative. Our credit standards don’t change much—whether the times are good or the times are bad. We didn’t get caught up in either the technology bubble of a few years ago or the more recent sub-prime housing debacle. We do not take brokered deposits and large deposits from out of state need to have some local connection.

On the other hand, we can be extremely flexible. We are not bound by the cookie cutter mentality that is built into the computer programs that seem to be making the lending decisions elsewhere these days. Here, you will work with real people who can weigh unusual requests and situations without worrying about how it’s done by the big banks. You still might not get the loan, but you’ll get a fair hearing.

Warning: Our bank does not give financial advice. We can’t tell you if your venture will succeed or fail. If you want financial advice hire a consultant. Of course, if you ask, our lending officers might offer a personal opinion about a financial question but it is just that—a personal opinion. You have to use your own judgment.

What our loan officers can tell you is whether we can or cannot make you the loan that you request. The rest is up to you.

LESSONS FROM OUR PAST

Looking back we are very proud of how we remained trustworthy partners to our customers in a very tough time. The recession of the mid-1980s was much deeper here in Montana than in much of the country. Everything seemed to go bad at the same time—especially for our agricultural customers. Livestock and grain prices crashed in a time of severe drought. Hay was scarce and expensive at a time when cattle prices plunged. Input costs of all kinds spiked. At the same time, it seemed like nobody wanted to own land in Montana and real estate prices dropped precipitously as well. During this period, the PCA and many of the bigger banks were selling out even their good customers. Sometimes, we didn’t sleep too well but we stood by our customers as long as we possibly could. Not all of our customers survived financially. Ranches sold and businesses closed. At times, we practically defied our bank examiners to help our customers liquidate in an orderly fashion.

We believe that we played an instrumental role in helping many of our customers survive that incredibly difficult financial time and would like to think that whenever tough times arise we will fight just as strongly for our customers and communities.

Looking back to earlier days—the 1930s depression—local legend recalls the following story: Charlie McDonnell, one of the founder’s sons, was a loan office and later president of the bank. In those days there were still many small ranches in the area where families got by raising a few head of sheep or cows. Whenever Charlie made a loan to one of these country folk, he required that they buy a milk cow if they did not have one, so that the kids would always have something to eat. Charlie was a life long bachelor and a very conservative banker, but he had compassion for other peoples children.
     


 

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