Founding father saved first issue $5 with untold historical value

 

In today’s markets, a $5 bill may be a good investment for a 10 year old’s piggy bank.

Don Carlos Driggs knew better at the turn of the century. When the State of Idaho was just a baby in a growing nation and the City of Driggs still a new idea to the pioneers that were settling the wild west, he set aside two $5 bank notes.

Perhaps the perpetual banker in Don Carlos would be pleased to know that this small act of savings would yield an earned return value somewhere between $15,000 to $25,000 after 105 years.

“Between 1863 and 1935 any bank who met certain requirements could be issued money,” said Manning Garrett, the Director of Currency Auctions at Stack’s Bowers Galleries. “These were called national banks and the money was printed in D.C. and shipped out to these local banks. There were 86 different banks in Idaho that were issued their own money,” Garrett said.

Don Carlos Driggs’ First National Bank was one of those banks to be issued U.S. government notes, some of which were called “blue notes.” A blue note according to the world of monetary collectors is a rarity, particularly in Idaho.

“It was rated by a third party,” Garrett said, whose auction house is handling the Internet and live auction for the Driggs note next week. “It was rated a grade of 40 out of 70. Most notes in circulation rate 12 out of 70 so obviously this was a keepsake.”

According to his great-grandson, Kenneth Driggs, his great-grandfather Don Carlos gave the first two issued bank notes to his oldest sons, Lynne and Guy Driggs. The brothers passed these notes down through the family over the generations.

“Don Carlos Driggs was the County Treasurer and also started the bank,” said Kenneth from his home in Dallas, Texas this week. “He was the treasurer of the bank when they nationalized the original bank. They were then entitled to print national bank notes. I’m not sure how many were printed, but he kept two notes for himself; #1 and #2 and those were given to two of his children.”

The #2 note was sold in 2001 for a little more than $5,500. The seller and buyer are unknown by the auction house or the Driggs family.

With the family gift, Don Carlos left a note for posterity. The note reads, “This note is the first issued by the First Nat Bank of Driggs bearing No 1-A Bank charter issued Oct. 18-1912 Currency put in circulation Nov 20th my birthday (48 yrs old.) The Driggs State Bank was organized June 15 1906 - and The First Nat Bank is the overgrowth as per announcement herewith. This note is to be held as a souvenir and not used under any circumstances. Don C Driggs Cashier Driggs State Bank First National Bank."

Stack’s Bowers Galleries conducts live, Internet and specialized auctions of rare U.S. and world coins and currency and ancient coins, as well as direct sales through retail and wholesale channels. The live auction will be Thursday, Nov. 9, hosted at the Baltimore Convention Center. Internet bidding is currently open at www.auctions.stacksbowers.com. The opening bid is $9,000.

Don Carlos: According to the book "Driggs Family in America Vol. 2"

Four Driggs brothers founded the town. They were Benjamin W. Driggs, Jr. who formed a company to develop Teton Valley ranch lands, and Don Carlos Driggs, Parley Driggs and Leland Driggs. But it was Don Carlos Driggs’ lot to first enter the former Indian region in 1887-1888 to stake his homestead claim over 160 acres of Idaho land.

Don Carlos built a log shack first. Then he stored sufficient supplies and hay to carry him and his horse through the winter.

Besides a log home, Don also built a log building for his store. He placed it at the east boundary of his homestead, which is a point now called Main Street in Driggs. He told that his store customers were Mormon settlers plus outlaws, trappers and prospectors.

By 1873, Teton Valley boasted enough settlers to formally petition the US Government for a post office. It is said that when officials in Washington, D.C. received the petition; there were so many “Driggs” signatures that they figured they may as well call the post office Driggs. And thus the town of Driggs, Idaho was born.

Don Carlos was appointed first postmaster. President Grover Cleveland did the honors in Dec. 1894, but 20 years later Don Carlos was named postmaster a second time.

In 1904, the Town of Driggs was officially incorporated with Don Carlos Driggs as founding mayor. Then events happened fast. On June 15, 1906, Driggs State Bank opened for business and on Aug. 20, 1912, Teton Valley’s first railroad came to town.

Yes, Mayor Don Carlos drove that final railroad spike.

A legacy

“My grandfather, the whole family was very proud to promote the county resources there. Later, after the Depression, Don Carlos moved with his sons to Phoenix,” Kenneth said. “His line settled in Phoenix. There are a lot of Driggs’ in Phoenix and one was the mayor for a while, in the 1980s. When they went to Phoenix, Don Carlos set up a Western Savings and Loan much like he did in Idaho. Don Carlos died and passed the Western Savings and Loan on to his sons who became the executors of the bank and it was most successful.”

Lynne Driggs was the oldest child, said Kenneth.

“All I can say is that my grandfather Lynne would return every fall for deer hunting,” said Kenneth of maintaining the family’s roots. “He would go in the mountains and he would catch his deer. He loved hunting and fishing in Idaho and had a home in Victor. My grandfather took me back there on a couple of occasions.”

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