A banking career
built on community

A banking career
built on community

 

Huntington’s story is rooted in community banking. And community banking’s history in Columbus, Ohio, is rooted in David Deshler’s life and career.

When David Deshler and his wife, Betsy, arrived from Pennsylvania in the summer of 1817, just five years after Columbus’ founding, they came upon a frontier town of dirt streets and about 1,400 residents. Deshler was a cabinetmaker with skills so apparent that they landed him work immediately. Ohio Gov. Thomas Worthington himself commissioned Deshler to build a bookcase for the new state library that opened shortly after the couple’s arrival in Columbus.1

Making furniture wasn’t lucrative, however, so Deshler dabbled in several professions to get by. He also had debt to pay off: with a down payment of $200 cash and a gold watch, Deshler had agreed to buy a lot near the corner of Broad and High streets for $1,000.

He owned a tavern, worked as treasurer for the school district and served as the city’s first fire commissioner. In time, he found his way into banking.

People valued Deshler’s business savvy and trusted him, which helped make his bank successful and made Deshler wealthy. Eventually he bought the entire northwest corner of Broad and High, where he built a large commercial building to house his bank and his residence.

In a 35-year banking career, Deshler became a leader in Columbus’ financial community and president of the Franklin Branch of the State Bank of Ohio, which was chartered in 1845. Along the way, he met an Exchange Branch messenger whose family had been in banking back East. His name was Pelatiah Webster “P.W.” Huntington.

In 1858, Huntington married Deshler’s widowed daughter, Jane. Eight years after that, another bond brought the Huntingtons and the Deshlers even closer.

The passage of the National Bank Act in 1863 effectively created a new U.S. banking system and led to the liquidation of many state-chartered banks. P.W. Huntington saw an opportunity to fill a void left by the liquidations and offer the Columbus residents a stable institution they could confidently do business with.

So, on January 2, 1866, in partnership with Deshler and Huntington established “a private banking house” called P.W. Huntington & Co. P.W., as president, focused on attracting new business; Deshler, as cashier, oversaw the bank’s assets.

The combination meshed, and P.W. Huntington & Co. flourished.

Deshler died in 1869 at age 78, “the oldest banker in the state,” according to his obituary.2 Huntington purchased Deshler’s shares in the partnership.

At the time of Deshler’s death, Columbus had grown into a thriving city of nearly 30,000 residents that was served by a generation of bankers who saw in Deshler “a man of unquestioned integrity and unblemished honor … an example to those who occupy like places of trust.”3

Deshler’s early optimism in the potential of Columbus real estate was validated, too. From 1915 until 1969, the northwest corner of Broad and High streets was home to the landmark Deshler Hotel. Eventually, the U.S. Bank Building was erected on the site.

In 2012, the appraised value of the “Deshler block” exceeded $31 million.4

1860s David Deshler-detail (2)
Streets - Broad St. (& High Intersection) - Hotel Deshler - Central Trust Building - Hayden Building
Above Image: During a 35-year banking career, David Deshler established P.W. Huntington & Co. with P.W. Huntington as a “private banking house.” Photo Credit: Columbus Evening Dispatch
Below Image: The landmark Deshler Hotel was at the corner of Broad and High streets from 1915 until 1969. Photo Credit: Columbus Evening Dispatch