Willam Sigler was born in 1822 in Clarksburg, in the region that later became West Virginia. He came to Lake County in 1837 when his father, Samuel Sigler, pioneered in the southern part of the county. William married Margaret Lee in 1848, and they had eight children: Samuel, William E., Charles, Schuyler, Laura Van Vleck, Mae, Pearl and Daniel.
In 1855, three years after the founding of the Town of Lowell, Sigler opened one of the first general stores at "Driscoll's Corners," near the 1837 homestead of pioneer John Driscoll. The spot is now the intersection of Commercial Ave. and Joe Martin Rd. After a few years there, Sigler moved his stock into the private home of R.M. Webb.
In the early 1860's he built a large frame store on the site of the present Van Nada law office in downtown Lowell, at the northeast corner of Wall St. and Commercial Ave.
A well-known business man for years, Sigler also served as Cedar Creek Township Trustee for two terms.
He also did a big business in cattle and hog feeding from his feed lot in the northeast part of Lowell.
The Sigler home was on a hill downtown that has since been leveled off to make room for the Hardings, Inc. complex. He acquired many acres of the old mill land once owned by Melvin Halsted.
In about 1879 he went out of business in Lowell, moved to Crown Point for a few years, and then relocated to Englewood, Ill., in 1881, and finally to La Grange, Ill., in 1898.
His brother, Eli Sigler, was a well-known businessman in the early history of the Town of Hebron.
William's son , Charles, built and managed several hotels at Cedar Lake, and another son, Schuyler, was the contractor for the Lowell grade school building in 1896.
Anna Eliza Sigler, William's sister, became the wife of Hon. Bartlett Woods, a public speaker and writer who was elected for two terms as Indiana state representative during the Civil War decade of the 1860's.
Wililam Sigler passed away at La Grange in 1902 at the age of 79. The "commodius" store room that he built in the early 1860's was destroyed in the memorable Lowell fire of 1898, when many other buildings on the north side of Commercial Ave. also went up in flames. According to a newspaper account of the fire, the building had been the property of Mortimer Castle since 1889, and he operated a general store there. It was also the site of the Lowell Post Office, and Dan Lynch, Louis Berg, and William Nichols were some of the early postmasters there.
After the 1898 fire, Lowell authorities decided that all new buildings in the downtown area must be of masonry construction.
In 1900 a new brick building was built over the ashes of the old Sigler general store. It was constructed for the First National Bank of Lowell, with Jacob Baughman as president.
The following was taken from old records: It was decided by the stockholders of the First National to sell the bank to the State Bank of Lowell, which was founded about 1897, Frank Nelson, President, in the old Wiggins Bank building of 1891 (next to the police station). By 1901 the State Bank had moved to the newer building and the firm became the State National Bank, a name kept until the 1920's, when it changed back to the First National Bank.
In May 1930, a depression year, the First National Bank was absorbed smoothly by the Lowell National Bank, founded in 1903 and located at the site of the present license bureau branch, with no money lost in the process.
The officers of the State National Bank in 1909 were: President Albert Foster, Vice President John Kimmet, and Cashier H.M. Johnson. The capital and surplus at that time was $56,000 -- $6,000 more than in 1906, when 2 percent certificates were advertised.
In 1926, under the name of First National Bank, the officers were: President Albert Foster, Vice President J. Will Belshaw, and Cashier S.A. Brownell, with bookkeepers Thelma Hill and Vera Minninger. Directors were Foster, Belshaw, Brownell, George Hoevet, and Logan Scritchfield.
Among the professional people having offices in the building while it was a bank were those listed in 1909: Dr. J.W. Iddings, physician and surgeon; Dr. W.V. Gooder, physician; Dr. P.L. Rigg, dentist; and James W. Belshaw, lawyer. Some of their offices were located on the second floor.
The Old Timer can remember when Lowell's "good ol' sulphur water" was pouring from a combination drinking fountain and ornamental cast iron horse tank in front of the bank building. The side walk is still a little wider on that corner, and some of the old plumbing is still visible. It was the scene of many wet initiations for Lowell High School freshmen.
In 1932, after the bank was moved, the front of the building was occupied by The Toggery, a men's store owned by Fred W. Minninger, grandson of Irish pioneer William Buckley, who later moved the business to the south side of Commercial, where The Toggery is now owned by Robert Kalemba.
In the office area were Belshaw and Brannon, Law and Real Estate; Victor K. Roberts, father of Victor J. Roberts, another lawyer; Edward E. "Red" Belshaw, son of James W. Belshaw, also a lawyer; and Dr. Neil Davis, physician.
Fred Van Nada housed his insurance office there, and his son Charles had his law office there in 1950, and in the 1960's the building was purchased by the Van Nada's.
The building is now occupied by the law office of Attorney Charles Van Nada, and the showrooms of The Neat Repeats clothing store, operated by his wife, Alice Van Nada. [Note from year 2001: This building is now a restaurant and antique shop.]
For some years the upstairs rooms had been rented as living quarters. The old bank vaults, one on the first floor and one in the lower level, are still in fine condition. The 87-year-old brick building has been well cared for, with its heavy oak doors, high ceilings, three chimneys that indicate where fireplaces were long ago, brass window frames, and the heavy steel step at the front entrance. Limestone lintels and sills frame the window, and a legend carved in stone still hangs proudly high above Commercial Ave.: "Bank 1900."
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