J.N. Ireland Bank

In 1892, five enterprising pioneer business associates joined together to
found a series of banks in nearly a dozen southern Idaho communities where there
were no banks. The five bank founders were Joseph Nathaniel Ireland, David
Lloyd Evans, Drew W. Standrod, William G. Jenkins, and Lorenzo L. Evans. The
bank founded in Malad was named after the most senior of the owners: J. N.

Because nineteenth century Idaho banking laws prohibited the modern
practice of branch banking, several of the five gave their own names to banks in
different towns, although originally each held stock in all of them. Not all of the
banks survived, nor did all of the partnerships remain intact, but the one bearing
the name of J.N. Ireland Bankers in Malad City did survive. J.N. Ireland Bank was
capitalized for $40,000; elected officers were D.L. Evans as president, W.G
Jenkins as vice-president, and D.W. Standrod as secretary with W.R. Evans hired
as cashier.

At the turn of the century, W.G. Jenkins was elected president with L.L.
Evans as vice-president. For the next several years, the bank owners rotated
officer roles.

Part of the reason for the founding of the bank was the number of stagecoach
robberies that happened in the pass between Malad and Marsh Valley. Miners,
businessmen, travelers, and farmers needed a safe place for their gold and money.
J.N. Ireland Bank received a state charter in 1893 during an economic
depression when many banks were closing their doors. J.N. Ireland Bank was able
to weather the financial storm, becoming a stronger institution after the 1890s. The
bank’s survival appeared to be because of the confidence local citizens had in the
bank directors, who, in turn, cultivated a congenial community relationship. The
bank’s long-term conservative banking philosophy; making careful loans; knowing
the customers well; understanding farmers, agriculture, and livestock; and being
attuned to the community’s needs contributed to its success.

In 1908 J.N. Ireland Bank contracted with the Malad Co-op Company to
lease the new “flat iron” section of the Co-op building on the corner of Bannock
and Main Streets. Ireland Bank remained at this location until its new banking
facilities on Bannock Street were completed in 1962. Ireland Bank remains the
oldest state-chartered bank in Idaho.

In the early 1920s, Ireland Bank became a member of the Federal Reserve
Banking System with examiners checking on the bank’s financial status and the
loans it had extended. Even during the Depression of the 1920s, J.N. Ireland Bank
never closed its doors.

The bank eventually became the property of two families: David L. Evans
(founder of D.L. Evans Bank, another successful bank started in Albion, Idaho)
and Williams G. Jenkins. The Jenkins family gained majority ownership and
control by the end of the 20th century. In the 1980s, J.N. Ireland became just
“Ireland Bank” and began expanding to neighboring communities. By 2020 Ireland
Bank had 14 branches, almost all in small, rural, southern Idaho towns.