History of the ABA
There was not a bank within the boundaries of Arkansas when it became a state in 1836 — gold and silver money was often buried for safekeeping. The first act of the first Arkansas Legislature was the creation of two banks: the Real Estate Bank and the State Bank; the two banks began business in 1837, issuing paper money rather than coins of that time, and thus creating an instability in the value of currency. After just six years, the two state banks were liquidated, and the need for a sound bank led to the appearance for private banking in Arkansas. After several shaky decades, the banking industry in Arkansas began to show steady growth in the 1880s. Following in the footsteps of the American Bankers (formed in 1875), and bankers in the neighboring states of Texas and Mississippi, Arkansas bankers began circulating the idea of a statewide association of bankers.
It was W.B. Worthen, president of what was then the Associated Banks of Little Rock, who took the first step in forming an association by inviting Arkansas bankers to a “Convention of Arkansas Bankers” in Little Rock on October 20-21, 1891. Representatives from 40 Arkansas banks were present at the meeting.
Colonel Logan H. Roots was elected president of the Association at that first Convention. In his address, Roots noted “the benefits of the Association are not confined to speeches to sharpen our wits, but the social features,” and that attendees of the event would “...go home having reaped a harvest that will repay them for the journey. I think they will go home better fitted to discharge their duty to their stockholders and depositors, as well as to the whole community in which they live. There is a certain advantage in an association.”