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Our History

A distinguished history of service

In 2010, the First State Bank celebrated its 75th anniversary of serving the residents of Henderson County and East Texas.  The history of First State Bank dates back to April 4, 1935, when Farmers and Merchants State Bank was granted a state charter. The bank opened for business in Athens, Texas, on May 1, 1935. Download a copy of the 1935 bank minutes.

Thomas Faulk, Sr., was the principal organizer of the bank and served as president until his death in 1946. The original shareholders were Thomas Faulk, Sr., J. J. Faulk, E. B. Coleman, Ritter V. Price, William W. Spencer, James R. Hicks, Telula P. Faulk, E. N. Robinson, Dan Gentry, Thomas H. Johnston, Tom D. Evans, and Sallie W. Coleman. The bank was originally located on the northwest corner of the town square, in the building currently occupied by the Athens Economic Development Foundation.

In 1960, Hurbert Aaron purchased a controlling interest in the bank. In 1962 the Deen Hotel on the southeast corner of the square was purchased and remodeled, and in 1963 the new facility was opened. The main location of First State Bank is still located in the old Deen Hotel building. If you go into the old Mallory & Magee offices on the third floor of the building, you can still see some of the old hotel windows that were bricked-over during the remodeling.

In December of 1967, Jeff Austin, Sr., and Charlie Hooser purchased the bank and began the turnaround process that has resulted in one of the most profitable and financially sound financial institutions in Texas. In 1976 the main bank headquarters was remodeled once again to bring it up to date.

Presidents of the bank:

  • 1935-1946 Thomas P. Faulk, Sr.
  • 1946-1960 T. D. Evans
  • 1960-1964 Hubert Aaron
  • 1964-1967 A. M. (Bub) Barnes
  • 1967-1970 Charles H. Hooser
  • 1970-1981 Pat H. Neill
  • 1981-1999 W. M. Key
  • 1999-present Jess A. Laird

Expansion & Acquisition History

The Bank of Mabank was acquired in December 1987. The acquisition increased total assets of the bank to $120 million. In 2002 a new bank building was completed in Mabank, located at the corner of State Highway 198 and U.S. Highway Business 175. The building was designed to resemble an old-fashioned train station, as the building is located at the site of the old Mabank Depot.

The Malakoff branch was opened de novo in November of 1989. The new bank building was completed in July 2009, located at 102 W. Royall Blvd. (Hwy 31).
In August 1994, the assets of the Bank of Athens were acquired. This purchase increased the total assets of the bank by $25 million, to $194 million. The location became known as the "Tyler St. Branch."

In February 1997, branches of Bank of America in Athens, Mabank, and Malakoff were purchased. Total assets increased by $42 million, to $245 million. The Mabank building was sold to local attorneys when the new building was completed. 

In June 2005, a de novo branch was opened in Gun Barrel City in a leased facility. A permanent home for our Gun Barrel operation was opened in September 2006. The new branch bank, located on Main Street (Hwy 334), is an attractive facility that was welcomed by community residents and city leaders.  The Gun Barrel City bank continues to grow.

Today, First State Bank of Athens has assets that total more than $340 million.  Bank employees take great pride in being involved members of the communities where they live and work.  In 2010, with the celebration of the bank's 75th anniversary, employees were given the opportunity to designate community organizations for donations of $500.  More than $20,000 was given to local charities and non profit organizations in Athens, Mabank, Gun Barrel City, and Malakoff.  As the bank enters its next 75 years, it remains committed to providing the businesses and residents of East Texas with reliable, secure, customer-oriented banking services.