Nathan Kenyon and Holland’s banking history


Albertus Van Raalte helped organize loans, but Nathan Kenyon established Holland’s first bank. The year was 1856. The bank was in the parlor of Aldred Plugger’s house at 5 E. Eighth St. — where the Warm Friend/Resthaven is today.

There, Kenyon operated his “exchange” bank, a place where customers could cash notes drawn on other banks across the country at rates based on the financial solvency of each issuing bank. This enabled customers to better engage in interstate and intrastate banking.

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Plugger, who owned and operated a shipping business, a flour mill, a saw mill and a grocery store, might have been the bank’s biggest customer.

Kenyon’s bank and Plugger’s house were destroyed by the Great Holland Fire of 1871. Kenyon then built a three-story opera house called Kenyon Hall at 194 River Ave. on the southwest corner of River Avenue and Eighth Street — where Reader’s World is today.

Steve VanderVeen

In 1875, Kenyon lost his wife. On her tombstone he wrote: “Died Oct. 30, 1875: Aged 43 years, 4 months, and 11 days.”

In 1877, fire destroyed Kenyon Hall. Kenyan then partnered was Jacob Van Putten. Van Putten was born in The Netherlands in 1820.

He married Maria Hilleman and together they had six children: Tannetje (Van Putten) Ver Schure, Jacob J. Van Putten III (called “Black Jake” because of his hair), Adrianus Van Putten, Leendert Van Putten, Maria (Van Putten) Nyland and Marinus Van Putten.


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