I n the early 1800s, Indiana was a wild, rich land of fertile fields and abundant forests. The land provided a good living for the hard-working pioneer families who settled here. One of these early settlers was businessman Alexander J. Kent, first citizen of the town of Kentland.
Kentland was a crossroad of only two buildings when it was named Newton County Seat in 1859. Over the years, both the population and the number of buildings grew steadily. Through the early part of this century, residents built schools and churches while developing business and commerce.
But hard times came even to agriculturally rich Indiana in the Great Depression of the 1920s. Residents felt the same economic hardship that beset the rest of the country. Many people were unemployed, banks closed and worse still, farm prices fell to painful lows. Substantial local funds had been lost in the demise of the Newton County State Bank in 1931.
In 1932, Kentland was without a bank or financial institution of any kind. This bleak picture did not daunt two ex-school teachers, however. In the fall of 1932, Glen C. Tolin and Edgar Teague pooled their resources, put their faith in the abiding prosperity of Kentland and opened the Kentland Bank for business.
The initial capitalization of the bank was $10,000 with a surplus of $5,000. A year later in 1933, Mr. Tolin and Mr. Teague purchased the old Newton County Bank building and moved their enterprise there. That first year, total resources of the bank were $55,000. Net loans totaled $4,000 and total deposits $40,000.
The Kentland Bank was chartered as a private bank in 1932; it was the last private bank to be chartered in Indiana. Incorporation came in 1962. Then in 1982, shareholders approved the transfer of stock to a holding company, KenBancorp.
O ver the years, the success of Kentland Bank has been reflected in the expansion and renovation of its facilities and offices. The first building was on Third Street, in the old office of the defunct Newton County Bank. A long-range remodeling program began in 1950, during which the outside of the building was restored with limestone, glass and aluminum. New air conditioning and night depositories were installed, along with interior renovation and a new heating plant.
By 1959 though, even these improvements were not adequate to contain the continued growth of the bank. A new building was planned on the courthouse square, and in 1960 the brick and marble building was open for buisness. It boasted a drive-up window, the first offered by a bank in Newton County. It has been enlarged three times since then to include two drive-up windows, space for auditing, real estate, a trust department, computer operations and extra space for future expansion.
A branch bank was built and opened for business in Lake Village in 1964. In 1971, a second branch was added in Roselawn. A third branch was added in Rensselaer in 1994. In 2011, a branch was bought in Lafayette.