Commercial National Bank, Oshkosh, WI (Charter 1568)

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Needed: a contemporary postcard or photo of the bank.
Needed: a contemporary postcard or photo of the bank.

Commercial National Bank of Oshkosh, WI (Chartered 1865 - Liquidated 1871)

Town History

Oshkosh is a city in Winnebago County, Wisconsin, of which it is the county seat. The city had an estimated population of 67,004 in 2019, making it the ninth-largest city in Wisconsin.

Oshkosh was named for Menominee Chief Oshkosh, whose name meant "claw" (cf. Ojibwe oshkanzh, "the claw"). Although the fur trade attracted the first European settlers to the area as early as 1818, it never became a major player in the fur trade. The 1820s mining boom in southwest Wisconsin along with the opening of the Erie Canal shifted commercial activity away from the Fox River Valley and Green Bay. Soon after 1830, much of the trade moved west, as there had been over-trapping in the region. Following the publicity caused by the Black Hawk War in 1832, there was increased interest in settling Wisconsin by whites from the East Coast, especially New York, Indiana, and Virginia, and by 1836 the cities of Milwaukee, Madison, Janesville, Beloit, and Fond du Lac were founded, with Madison the capital of a new territorial government, setting the stage for the economic and political importance of the southern part of the state. However, Oshkosh would continue to be one of Wisconsin's top five largest cities into the twentieth century.

The establishment and growth of the wood industry in the area spurred development of Oshkosh. Already designated as the county seat, Oshkosh was incorporated as a city in 1853. It had a population of nearly 2,800. The lumber industry became well established as businessmen took advantage of navigable waterways to provide access to both markets and northern pineries. The 1859 arrival of rail transportation expanded the industry's ability to meet the demands of a rapidly growing construction market. At one time, Oshkosh was known as the "Sawdust Capital of the World" due to the number of lumber mills in the city, 11 by 1860.

On April 28, 1875, Oshkosh had a "Great Fire" that consumed homes and businesses along Main Street north of the Fox River. The fire engulfed 70 stores, 40 factories, and 500 homes, costing nearly $2.5 million (or $51.2 million in 2010 money).

Oshkosh had 10 National Banks chartered during the Bank Note Era, and all 10 of those banks issued National Bank Notes. Oshkosh also had three Obsolete Banks that issued Obsolete Bank Notes during the Obsolete Bank Note Era (1782-1866).

Bank History

Oshkosh Commercial Bank $3 Obsolete note of Nov. 15, 1856, Haxby WI-630 G6. Three of the denominations from the bank use Native American vignettes. In the vignette at top left, the mother of a family gestures from their spot on a cliff to the town below, indicating the new way of life. A woman at the lower right strews flowers. Proof "Hole Punch Cancelled" as made.
Oshkosh Commercial Bank $3 Obsolete note of Nov. 15, 1856, Haxby WI-630 G6.  Three of the denominations from the bank use Native American vignettes. In the vignette at top left, the mother of a family gestures from their spot on a cliff to the town below, indicating the new way of life. A woman at the lower right strews flowers. Proof "Hole Punch Cancelled" as made. Courtesy of Heritage Auctions,
  • Organized Aug 23, 1865
  • Chartered Sep 25, 1865
  • Succeeded Oshkosh Commercial Bank
  • Liquidated Nov 22, 1871

In November 1856, Bank Comptroller Dennis and his assistant, Mr. Menges were oppressed due to the establishment of a large number of new banks, and an important increase of the circulation of those already established. Thirteen banks had been established since July with nine more organizing. The Oshkosh Commercial Bank was one of the banks organizing having deposited $50,000 in Capital stock; the Comptroller was engaged in countersigning new notes. On Wednesday, November 25, 1857, the doors of the Oshkosh Commercial Bank were closed and a notice informed all that the bank had suspended payment for a few days until it could make its collections. The Oshkosh Dem. reassured the public in its belief the bank was of perfect solvency and its satisfaction with the management of its offices.

In November 1858, Mr. Thomas T. Reeve, formerly cashier of the Bank of Orange County at Goshen, New York and Mr. G.W. Roe, formerly teller in the Chester Bank, Orange County, NY purchased the stock of the Oshkosh Commercial Bank. Mr. Reeve was the president and Mr. Roe was cashier. Messrs. Henry Strong and Nelson Fletcher, the former owners and officers of the bank spoke of the new owners in the highest terms in a circular to their former customers requesting them to continue their business with the new firm, assuring them they possessed ample capital to carry on the banking business successfully.

Gilbert Wheeler Roe was born in Warwick, Orange County, New York on August 28, 1823. He moved to Milwaukee in 1857 where he founded the firm of Reeve & Roe, private bankers, with banking rooms on East Water Street. His partner Thomas Reeve came from the east with him. The enterprise withstood the panic of in 1857 and was disposed of successfully. After purchasing the bank in Oshkosh, Mr. Roe served for 22 years as cashier, 12 years as vice president and was president until 1900 when he resigned. Mr. Roe also owned extensive tracts of timber lands and farm lands in Arkansas, Georgia, and Wisconsin and extensive cypress timber holdings in Florida. He was one of the promoters of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad to extend its line from Ripon to Oshkosh. He was president of the Columbian Hotel company owning the Athearn Hotel. Mr. Roe passed away unexpectedly in Milwaukee on New Year's Eve, 1902, where he was visiting his daughter, Mrs. A.J. Burgess.

In January 9, 1866, at the annual meeting of the stockholders of the Commercial National Bank of Oshkosh, T.T. Reeve was elected president, S.B. Paige, vice president, and G.W. Roe, cashier. The Commercial National Bank received Charter 1568 on September 25, 1865 and would operate for just over six years until it liquidated on November 22, 1871.

Thomas Tusten Reeve died on March 8, 1891 at his Oshkosh home at 388 Algoma street. He was born in Goshen, Orange County, New York, on January 2, 1808. He was educated at The Farmers' Hall Academy at Goshen where he was a schoolmate of William H. Seward. In 1822 he began his active commercial life as a clerk ship in a store in his native city. Ten years later he moved to Newburg, New York where he became connected with the mercantile establishment of Oakley, Davis & Company, first as a clerk, and afterwards as a partner. He returned to Goshen in 1837 and opened a general store which he conducted until 1846. At that time he was elected cashier of the Bank f Orange County at Goshen. In 1857 he came west and located at Milwaukee and in connection with Gilbert W. Roe he opened a banking office there. That was maintained only a year, however, and in 1858, he and Mr. Roe came to Oshkosh and purchased the Commercial Bank of Fletcher & Strong. Mr. Reeve was elected president of the bank and for thirty-three years he was at the head of the institution. During those years the bank went from a State charter to a National Bank in 1865 and back to a State Charter in 1871. Mr. Reeve was married to Miss Agnes Ross at Newburg, New York, on May 19, 1836. Mrs. Reeve survived him. Four children were born to them. The first born died in its Infancy and their surviving children were Mary E., wife of Congressman Miller’’’, Caroline R., wife of John S. Fraker, and George K. All of them lived in Oshkosh. There were few men more prominently identified with the commercial growth of Oshkosh than Mr. Reeve. He was an active, energetic businessman. The history of his life tells its own story. His rapid advancement front a clerk in a New York town to the presidency of a bank in this city, tells the story of his energy and ability, and it is a better tribute to the man than anything that could be said.

Official Bank Title(s)

1: The Commercial National Bank of Oshkosh, WI

Bank Note Types Issued

NEEDED: an image of a bank note or proof for The Commercial National Bank of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Charter 1568.

A total of $94,600 in National Bank Notes was issued by this bank between 1865 and 1871. This consisted of a total of 16,220 notes (16,220 large size and No small size notes).

This bank issued the following Types and Denominations of bank notes:

Series/Type Sheet/Denoms Serial#s Sheet Comments
Original Series 4x5 1 - 3605
Original Series 3x10-20 1 - 450

Bank Presidents and Cashiers

Bank Presidents and Cashiers during the National Bank Note Era (1865 - 1871):



Other Bank Note Signers

  • There are currently no known Vice President or Assistant Cashier bank note signers for this bank.

Wiki Links


  • Oshkosh, WI, Wikipedia,,_Wisconsin
  • Don C. Kelly, National Bank Notes, A Guide with Prices. 6th Edition (Oxford, OH: The Paper Money Institute, 2008).
  • Dean Oakes and John Hickman, Standard Catalog of National Bank Notes. 2nd Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 1990).
  • Banks & Bankers Historical Database (1782-1935),
  • Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, WI, Fri., Nov. 21, 1856.
  • Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, WI, Tue., Dec. 1, 1857.
  • The Daily Milwaukee News, Milwaukee, WI, Tue., Nov. 30, 1858.
  • The Saturday Evening Press, Menasha, WI, Tue., Jan. 23, 1866.
  • The Oshkosh Northwestern, Oshkosh, WI, Mon., Mar. 9, 1891.