In a small country town located a short distance from a railroad there was a State bank in operation which had been reasonably successful in business and apparently supplied the town with all the banking facilities needed.
In the same town there lived a retired professional man of prominence and influence in the community, who also had been successful in business. His next-door neighbor was a young man who had a fondness for raising chickens, of which he had quite a number. The party-line fence which separated their properties was not in very good repair and afforded the chickens an opportunity to trespass upon his neighbor's premises, causing more or less friction and unpleasantness between them. On one occasion the two neighbors met on the street and the one who was annoyed by the chickens complained to the other and admonished him in very emphatic language that he must keep his chickens at home. Some warm words passed between them, with the result that their neighborly relations were thereafter very much estranged.
Shortly subsequent to this occurrence the owner of the chickens secured employment in the little bank in the town as a clerk, and one day his elderly neighbor dropped in the bank to transact some business, and, seeing the young man at work there, went immediately to the cashier and demanded his dismissal, saying that he would withdraw his account if his employment was continued.
The cashier promptly and properly refused to comply with this demand, consequently the account of the unreasonable customer was withdrawn. There was no other bank in the town, and none nearer than seven miles away, which made it quite inconvenient for him to transact his banking business, so he determined to organize a new bank and operate it in opposition to and in competition with the State bank.
When the officers of the State bank learned of his purpose the directors immediately made application to the Comptroller for authority to convert their institution into a national association.
Both banks applied for the title of First National, but as the application of the new bank was the first received at the Comptroller's office, under the rule it was entitled to and was allowed the title.
Within a year after this bank opened for business the cashier defaulted and the organizer sustained an individual loss in consequence, far greater than any he had incurred as a result of the depredations and trespassing of his neighbor's chickens.
This bank was always referred to by the employees of the Comptroller's office as the "chicken bank."
The law conferred upon the Comptroller of the Currency authority to refuse a charter to a national bank whenever he had reason to suppose that the shareholders had organized the bank for any other than the legitimate objects contemplated by the national banking laws.
While the organization of this bank was known to be purely a matter of spite growing out of a disagreement between two neighbors over a few marauding chickens, the Comptroller did not consider that this fact afforded sufficient warrant for his denial of a charter, and, therefore, he issued his certificate of authority.
Banks organized under such conditions are not, as a rule, successful or prosperous institutions, and this bank proved to be no exception to the rule, as the town was already amply supplied with banking facilities by the successful institution already in operation there, which apparently possessed the confidence and had the support of the community.