First Experience in Banking

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, November 6, 1913: Had my first experience in banking this afternoon, when I had a check cashed for the amount of four hundred dollars. That was the largest sum of money I ever walked around with.

With five others walked to Watsontown to attend an entertainment. I enjoyed it ever so much. One part was so laughable that it became hard for me to sit still. My sides sill hurt and the tears came.


Grandma may have had her first banking experience in this building. When I was a child it housed the Farmers’ National Bank of Watsontown. (It is now a Sovereign Bank.) I’m not sure whether it was a bank a hundred years ago.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Four hundred dollars!—That’s a lot of money even today and it was a huge amount a hundred years ago.

According to an online inflation calculator, $400 a hundred years ago would be worth $9,524 today.

Where did Grandma get the check that she cashed? Was she cashing the check for her father? . . . Did he sell part of the recently harvested corn crop? . . .  . . .


The “entertainment” sounds like fun. Was it a play? . .. some sort of variety show? . . . .

19 thoughts on “First Experience in Banking

  1. Great post… Maybe she is going to elope?!? I remember the first time I had a big bank transaction, and followed it with a celebration as well. Great days like that are all too few, so happy that your Grandma did it justice with a show.

  2. That is some serious banking. She must have felt quite important engaging in that transaction. Were there no restrictions about money transactions for unmarried women, especially those under the age of majority?

  3. Spend enough time in small towns, and you can spot a bank building (no matter what its current use is!) from a mile away…I think there were only 3 designs in use in the 19th century!
    That IS a lot of money…the fact that she carried it with her to the show, rather than taking it home and putting it away shows just how safe she felt in her hometown…

  4. So many unanswered questions – but I am glad she earned plenty for her hard work. I do also wonder if it was a portion of the proceeds from the harvest. Do you know what the app average income would be for a harvest? I know it would depend on how much was harvested and the prices of the crops. Whatever her father sold wouldn’t that be pretty much his yearly income? So much information on the history of that time era that I am always finding new questions! Blessings and hugs

  5. I’m running through this week’s blogs backwards, so I already have a few ideas about why the money. But what was the “entertainment?” Would it make us laugh today? Humor is such a personal thing. I’d love to know what she laughed at.

  6. Wonder if she sold her calf, and if she did, what did she do with the money? Seems you would open an acct with all that money. It’s good to read about her having a really good time!!

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