The rich history of Better Banks dates back as far back at 1898 with the founding of Dunlap Bank, in the small village of Dunlap, IL. In 1933, President Roosevelt declared a "bank holiday" and ordered nearly every bank in the United States closed temporarily. Dunlap Bank was one of the select rural banks in the country to remain open during that time bringing a great deal of pride and respect to the community.
In 1957, B.F. "Chip" Backlund, a Senior Bank Examiner, joined Dunlap Bank as an Executive Vice President. He became President of the bank in 1967 and later Chairman. Chip could see the importance of and need for locally owned community banks and organized the purchase of Wyoming Bank in 1967 and Bartonville Bank in 1970.
Bartonville Bank, founded in 1918, and Wyoming Bank founded in 1935, boasted the same banking philosophy as Dunlap; to be pillars of strength and stability and serve the banking needs of their respective communities with loyalty, honesty and dignity.
During his tenure as Chairman, Chip Backlund also served on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago from 1986 until 1992. To this day, Chip Backlund is a leading spokesman for small community banking and remains involved in the oversight of Better Banks.
Steve Backlund, youngest son of Chip, joined Dunlap bank in 1979 and was named Vice President of both Dunlap Bank and Bartonville Bank in 1981. In 2002, Steve was named CEO and Chairman of Bartonville Bank. Seeing the need for additional locations, enhanced services and more products, Steve directed the opening of the Bartonville Bank II on Garfield in 1982 and Dunlap Bank II on North Knoxville in Peoria in 1990.
Due to the overlap in the Peoria and Bartonville markets and common ownership, the leadership of Dunlap Bank and Bartonville Bank identified the opportunity to maximize the strengths of both banks and in October 2004, the Bartonville and Dunlap Banks combined to become Better Banks. In September of 2006, Wyoming Bank joined Better Banks and in June of 2011, Farmers State Bank of Astoria was added. In August of 2015 our Chillicothe branch became the latest edition. While further strengthening the bank overall, the combinations of the banks allow us to offer customers an enhanced line of products and services while providing them with additional locations and ATMs for added convenience.
While providing leading products and services to meet the wide array of needs our customers have, providing exceptional customer service to current and future customers continues to be Chairman Steve Backlund's goal and vision. Additionally, Better Banks remains loyal to Chip Backlund's philosophy of over fifty years ago: "Remain a strong, locally owned, community bank."
Better Banks has deep roots and as we grow, we continually reflect on our history and how it has brought us to where we are currently; history we consider equally as important as our future and who we become.