J.H. Sherburne, Indian Trader

by Herman L. Boraker

J.H. Sherburne was a trader, licensed by the United States government to trade horses and Indian ponies with the Native Americans under the Ponca and Otoe agencies, Indian Territory.

Mr. Sherburne was born in Maine in 1851. While still a young man he migrated West shortly after the Civil War and established a trading post near the Ponca agency.

The ornate draft illustrated above shows that Mr. Sherburne had been doing business with the Cowley County Bank, Arkansas City, Kansas, and that the Cowley Bank was succeeded by the First National Bank of the same city. It is datelined “Arkansas City, July 9, 1888” and bears a rubber stamp showing it was paid by the First National Bank on the same day.

Arkansas City, Kansas, is located about thirty miles northeast of Ponca City, Oklahoma. (This is about five miles north of the Kansas/Oklahoma state line.)

The First National Bank of Arkansas City was organized in June of 1885 with capital of $50,000. Due to poor management it had financial trouble from 1893 to 1899, when it was placed in receivership on October 19th.

In the mid 1890’s Sherburne moved to Browning, Montana, where he continued to be a United States Licensed Trader. He was also involved in establishing the First National Bank there, charter #10883, in 1916, and served as its president for more than twenty years.

According to the “Individual Statements of Condition of National Banks” for 1929 through 1935, published by the United States Government Printing Office, Sherburne was president of the bank, and F.R. Getty was cashier. The bank had capital of $25,000, and deposits fluctuated between $149,000 and $335,000.

The draft illustrated above was issued by Sherburne while living in Browning, and was drawn on the Security Bank of Minnesota in Minneapolis. This bank was established in 1878. Officers were F.A. Chamberlain, president; Henry M. Knox, vice president; and Perry Harrison, cashier. Its capital was $1,000,000.

2007 Postscript

The Ponca Agency checks were printed by A. Gast & Co., Saint Louis, while the Browning checks were printed by the Union Bank Note Company of Kansas City.

Sherburne was still in Ponca Agency in 1891 and 1892, to judge from the two checks shown below. They were printed by Hall & O’Donald Lith. Co., Topeka.

Sometime after late 1899 Sherburne had his checks imprinted to pay the Spanish American War check tax.

The original article ran in the October – December 1994 issue of The Check Collector.