Treasure hunting conjures images of Indiana Jones finding lost relics hidden behind an array of booby traps, yet
some treasures exist right beneath our feet. Two local youth interested in tracing Lakeview’s roots recently discovered a treasure of immeasurable historic value, in of all places the basement of Umpqua Bank.
Zoe and Cole Bower, ages 7 and 9 respectively, became interested in learning more about Dr. Bernard Daly after attending Daly Days back in June. Their mother, Carla, acquired a book about Daly written by Stan Wonderly titled, “Bernard Daly: My Beloved County of Lake” from the Chamber of Commerce.
After hearing about the many great accomplishments of Dr. Daly, the kids wanted to search out some locations mentioned in the book, visiting several buildings with Daly ties. However when they hunted for Dr. Daly’s bank originally located at 2 S. E St., the address didn’t exist. The presumed area where Daly’s bank of Lakeview once stood now seemed completely occupied by the Umpqua Bank building, at 1 S. E St.
Undeterred, the kids asked Umpqua Bank Lakeview Branch Mgr. Jenni Strauch for help in solving the mystery, and were informed that construction changed the building, with the original bank space now used as storage and office space. With special permission the kids were given a tour of the building including the original basement, where their treasure hunting skills revealed a long lost treasure of local history.
Immersed in a blanket of dust, untouched for easily a century, Zoe and Cole discovered the handwritten ledgers of Dr. Daly’s bank with records reaching as far back as 1899.
Daly opened a bank in Lakeview in 1898, helping to fund much of the construction of the town. After fires ravaged the community, the Daly bank was instrumental in providing funds to rebuild the area. The ledger contains detailed records of the funds that helped build, and occasionally rebuild, Lakeview. Daly’s work in the community was admirable, always finding ways to help people pay their bills or provide groceries rather than foreclose if folks couldn’t pay their debts. His kindness became the inspiration for other families to get involved, leading to the establishment of multiple local legacy funds like the Daly Fund, Collins-McDonald Fund and the Ford Family Foundation that have resulted in Lake County being the most endowed in the state of Oregon for scholarship programs.
Learning about the many great accomplishments of Dr. Daly and his impact on the community through banking has inspired Cole and Zoe to get their start in banking as well, opening savings accounts with the money they earned selling lemonade over the summer.
“I lit up when I heard about interest,” exclaimed Cole after learning about how money can in fact earn him more money. Inspired by Dr. Daly’s legacy in building the community and armed with a passion for saving money through banking, the Bower kids are earning interest on their lemonade money while sharing Dr. Daly’s message.
“Spend your money locally to help businesses in Lakeview,” said Cole, displaying a knowledge of economics and the increased value of money circulation in rural communities (approximately 8 to 1 vs. metropolitan areas) well beyond his years.
As for the discovered historic treasures that tell so much about Lake County’s history, Strauch has been working with Umpqua’s Communications and Cultural Enhancement Team to determine how best to display the ledgers, which stretch from 1899 to the 1960s. It is one of several ways Umpqua Bank gives back locally, including giving each employee a week’s pay to volunteer in the community.