From its humble begin-nings in the second floor of the Unique Café as the First National Bank of Boscobel in 1871, what is now Com-munity First Bank has grown to include branches in Muscoda (1942), Blue River (1945), Richland Center (1995), Reedsburg (2000) and Baraboo (2003).
But through all the changes and expansions, Community First Bank has remained true to its roots, retaining local ownership and control, staying in touch with local people and businesses for 140 years.
"It's an extraordinary length of time for one in-stitution," says Robert Mor-rison III, Chairman of the Board. "We wouldn't still be in existence if we didn't serve this community and others."
After being organized by Dwight Parker in 1871, the First National Bank was succeeded in 1879 by Pip-kin Bank, a private bank. Under new state laws pro-hibiting private banks, in 1903 there was a name change to Pipkin State Bank. In 1912, property was acquired at 1006 Wisconsin Avenue and the following year the name was changed to Central State Bank.
Another predecessor bank, State Bank of Bosco-bel, was incorporated in 1892 by Matt and Will Pittman, druggists, in a cor-ner of the front of their store, formerly the Corner-Stone Bar and now Timber Lane Coffee. In 1905, Louis, John and F.W. Ruka purchased the Pittman in-terests and in 1907 the business moved to new quarters across and down the street in what is now Von Haden/Tricor Insur-ance.
Central State and State Bank came together through consolidation in 1930 as the Depression worsened. At that time the Centrral State Bank office on west Wis-consin Avenue was reno-vated to house the consoli-dated operations. J.E. Bar-nett, a bank director occu-pied law offices on the up-per floor. That location car-ried the bank until the early 1970's-when an expansion next door and renovation were completed. The pre-sent Community First Bank building was completed in 1994 and the banks' name was changed. The former quarters were sold to the city of Boscobel to be used as City Hall.
Ownership in the prede-cessor banks was held by early community families such as Pipkin, Hildebrand, Kronshage, Ruka and Betz. Later in the 40's, 50's and 60's, Ruka, Hayman, Bar-nett, Mattie and Morrison became major holders. In the middle 1960's Robert Morrison, Jr. and his family became the dominant shareholders, with the Mor-rison family continuing its ownership to the present time.
"Our organization has been able to be around this long because of our com-mitment to this commu-nity," Robert Morrison III said. "I think in today's world, being around for 140 years is a testament to serving our communities, and that commitment went into our name change."
Morrison is quick to point out that the bank's employ-ees are involved in every facet of community life, serving on various boards and volunteering with school, church and service groups.
"Our directors and our staff feel we can do a better job than the so-called ‘big guys' because of our com-munity involvement. We've got a great staff; they do the heavy lifting. It's all about personal service and from the feedback we get, that service is several notches above what people find elsewhere," Morrison said. "You have to be living and working in the community to properly serve your cus-tomers, and we would like to think we'll be here for another 140 years."