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St. Cloud’s Zapp Bank Was Incorporated – On ‘This Date In Central Minnesota History’

Zapp Bank (Stearns History Museum)

ST. CLOUD – July 1st, 1907 – Zapp State Bank incorporated in St. Cloud.

John Zapp

John Zapp opened Zapp’s Abstract and Loan Bank which was incorporated in St. Cloud on July 1st, 1907.

The oldest bank in St. Cloud, Zapp Bank had humble beginnings. Following the Civil War, the United States was rapidly changing and financial institution were also in flux, so much so that banks lacked the confidence of the people, and many preferred to trust their savings to some person rather than an institution. In St. Cloud, John Zapp became that person.

Pioneer settlers who had accumulated some money began to leave it with Zapp, who would give them a receipt and place the money in his safe in the Register of Deeds office. When the amount of money he was safeguarding reached a sizable amount, Zapp called his ‘depositors’ together and suggested that rather than simply hold their money it might be more usefully and profitably invested in farm mortgages and other safe investments. At the end of his career at the Register of Deeds Office, John Zapp was responsible for a total of $100,000.

With this investment he opened a private bank called Zapp’s Abstract and Loan Bank on January 1, 1889. The small brick building just west of the courthouse served numerous individuals until 1907. Minnesota legislature passed legislation prohibiting private banks. The Zapp Loan Bank was incorporated on July 1st, 1907 and given a state charter along with a new name: Zapp State Bank.

John Zapp ran the bank until he died in the early 1900s, and the bank’s leadership fell to a succession of Zapps: Edward O. Zapp, Walter Zapp, and Edward A. Zapp, who guided the bank for more than three decades. The responsibility then came to non-family members who furthered the bank’s reputation for credibility until U.S. Bank acquired it in 1997.

Thanks to Stearns History Museum intern Brittany Bokovoy for their help with our series, “This Date In Central Minnesota History” on WJON.

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