Today’s U.S. Bank was forged during the 1990s from the combination of several excellent major regional banks, including Star Bank, Firstar, Mercantile, First Bank System, U.S. Bank, and Colorado National Bank. Those banks, in turn, had grown from the mergers of numerous smaller banks throughout the years. In the eastern part of the franchise, U.S. Bank traces some of its earliest roots to 1853 when Farmers and Millers Bank in Milwaukee opened its doors, growing into the First National Bank of Milwaukee and eventually becoming First Wisconsin and ultimately Firstar. In St. Louis, State Savings Institution, with just $8,500 in capital and one teller, opened in St. Louis in 1855, later to become part of the Mercantile Trust Company, the forerunner of Mercantile Bancorporation. In Cincinnati, The First National Bank of Cincinnati opened for business in 1863 under National Charter #24 with the boom of Civil War cannons firing just across the Ohio, but it survived through many more decades to grow into Star Bank. About this same time, The First National Bank of St. Paul was chartered in 1864. A year later, The First National Bank of Minneapolis received its charter. These two First Nationals formed a holding company in early 1929, known as First Bank Stock Corporation, and they kept that name until 1968 when they became First Bank System. Across the Rocky Mountains in 1891, several prominent business leaders received a charter for The United States National Bank of Portland, Oregon, a de novo banking company.
From their largely unremarkable beginnings, these banks thrived as independent entities, each growing into a respected force (and usually the largest commercial bank) in their respective marketplaces. As opportunities arose, each participated in in-market mergers and acquisitions during the early decades of the 20th century and in more widespread expansions during the 1980s and 1990s — including the 1993 transaction that brought Colorado National Bank in Denver into the First Bank System, and West One Bancorp of Boise, Idaho, coming into the original U.S. Bancorp in 1995.
Of particular note, in 1902 the U.S. National Bank of Portland was merged into the Ainsworth National Bank of Portland, but kept the U.S. National Bank name. The decision turned out to be an auspicious one, as a 1913 federal law prohibited other banks from using “United States” in their names from that time forward. U.S. National was among the first banks to form a bank holding company — called U.S. Bancorp.
Since 1988 alone, mergers with and acquisitions of more than 50 banks, large and small, have helped form today’s U.S. Bank. During the 1990s, Star, Firstar, and Mercantile merged to become the new Firstar, and First Bank System and
U.S. Bancorp combined as U.S. Bancorp. On February 27, 2001, Firstar and U.S. Bancorp became today’s new U.S. Bancorp.