Monthly Archives: March 1870

The Great Bank Scandal of 1860s

Standard

In 1837, two state banks were established in Allegan County: one in Allegan and one in Singapore (now a ghost town near Saugatuck). Both practiced what was then called “wildcat banking.”

Singapore Bank Note

Over $50,000 in Singapore Bank notes were circulated in 1838. Shortly after the Civil War, it was legislated that state banks were required to maintain enough hard currency on hand to cover at least 1/3 of the banknotes that were circulating, and neither Singapore nor Allegan was at that level.

Bank of Allegan NoteWhen Allegan State Bank would receive warning from nearby towns that the state bank examiner was coming through, the two banks would pool all the money from Singapore State Bank and Allegan State Bank at Allegan. After the inspection, the banker in Allegan would make sure to get the bank examiner drunk. While he slept, they would get a head start on him and take all the money from Allegan to Singapore State Bank in time to pass the inspection there.

Source: Jack Douglas Buist, Course Lectures, US History (Allegan, Mich.: Allegan Senior High School, 1987-8).