In July of 1884, a State-chartered bank opened its doors for the first time at 218 South Main Street, Fort Atkinson. Citizens State Bank (now known as Badger Bank) was established by Congressman L. B. Caswell; Roy Chase, the President of Northwestern Manufacturing; and C.A. Caswell, the local City Attorney and son of L.B. Caswell. Dr. H. B. Willard also served as a Director of the new bank that was capitalized with $25,000.
As the years passed, the bank took great pride in helping area farmers reduce their collective mortgage debt and prosper in the shift to a “dairy driven” economy. By 1937 the bank, still at its original location, was completely remodeled and the capital level was increased from $25,000 to $50,000. In 1941 the bank’s business volume exceeded $1,000,000 for the first time. Officers in 1941 included T.R. Royce, President: E.R. Klassy, Vice President; Edwin Hedberg, Cashier; Robert Hedberg and Walt Zilisch, Assistant Cashiers.
Ernie Klassy and Ed Hedberg shared the leadership responsibilities for the bank during the 1950s and 1960s, and Robert Hedberg was named Bank President in 1968. In 1970, the bank was moved to larger and more modern quarters at 220 Grant Street, just one block from its original location. In 1978, the drive-up facilities were enhanced. And in 1980, with the addition of trust and investment services, the bank’s name was changed to Citizens State Bank and Trust. The bank doubled in size in 1990 and another addition was completed in 1999. In 2003, Citizens acquired the Cambridge branch of M & I Bank and began serving customers from the Cambridge location. In 2005, Citizens opened a new branch location in the growing village of Johnson Creek. In 2006, management announced plans to build a full service banking facility in Jefferson. Finally, on April 30, 2007, Citizens changed its name to Badger Bank. Today’s executive management team consists of Steve Dehnert, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board; David Keleher, Executive Vice President; Cheryl Dobson, Senior Vice President & Operations Officer, and Ann Herdendorf, Senior Vice President and Senior Trust Officer.
During the past 20 years, many communities throughout the state have watched their local banks merge or become acquisition targets of larger bank corporations. As a locally owned and locally managed community bank, Badger Bank enjoys its place at the center of local development and smart community growth. Bank CEO Steve Dehnert commented, “As we recently celebrated our 130th anniversary, our central mission remains very much the same as it was in 1884. We succeed when we help our customers and our community grow and prosper. It’s unlikely that in 1884, the Caswells and Mr. Chase could have envisioned where Badger Bank would be today. Indeed, the “21st Century” changes in bank technology would have been hard to imagine even a decade ago. After 131 years of local banking, we’re still looking forward. We look forward to serving generations of Fort Atkinson, Cambridge, Johnson Creek and Jefferson residents and businesses in the years to come. We are thankful for the opportunity to serve and be a part of these great communities.”
Badger Bank will be a strong, growing, independent community bank that strives to achieve customer loyalty, employee success and shareholder value.