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The Oldest Credit Union And Its Bizarre Name

Saturday, November 6, 2010 - 1:50 PMSt. Mary's Bank Credit Union - Details
I came across St. Mary's Bank when I heard about its iPad sweepstakes.

What I found very interesting is that St. Mary's Bank is NOT a bank. It's a New Hampshire credit union insured by the NCUA. This is the only credit union that I have seen with "bank" in the name.

From the bank's history webpage:
In 1908, St. Mary's Bank opened as the first credit union in the nation

The name was changed to St. Mary's Bank in 1925. I guess that was before anyone knew about the term "credit union".
Ken TuminKen Tumin5,467 posts since
Nov 29, 2009
Rep Points: 124,994
1. Saturday, November 6, 2010 - 8:27 PM
Very interesting!
tightwadtightwad27 posts since
Jun 7, 2010
Rep Points: 856
2. Thursday, November 11, 2010 - 12:13 AM
This credit union was established at the Paroisse Sainte-Marie, one of Manchester's several Franco-American Catholic parishes, to serve the city's substantial French-Canadian immigrant population. The credit union, or caisse populaire in French, was a common financial institution in French Canada, having become widespread as a result of a caisse populaire "movement" in Quebec. So, in Manchester, and soon in the other "Little Canadas" of New England, credit unions were founded by immigrants already quite familiar with them. The caisse populaire of Sainte-Marie de Manchester was founded in November 1908 by Alphonse Desjardins, a noted Franco-American attorney in Manchester, in an office located in his home on Notre Dame Street. Desjardins believed that the caisse populaire was necessary to "complete" the "infrastructure" of the Franco-American parish. In a lecture he delivered on October 10, 1910, he counseled other parishes to follow Sainte-Marie's example: "Next to the temple of prayer, the temple of light (school), and the temple of brotherhood, you would do well to erect a temple of thrift!" (reported in L'avenir, Oct. 11, 1910, p. 8). Paroisse Sainte-Marie was representative of many Franco-American parishes in New England, having a church, a hospital, two orphanages, two schools, a rectory, a residence for the Brothers, a residence for the Sisters, and a credit union! I think the guess that the term "credit union" was not familiar is a correct one, especially given the possibility that the founders of St. Mary's "Bank" might have been uncertain as to how to best translate caisse populaire. Anyway, I think that Alphonse Desjardins would be well pleased that many have taken his words of counsel to heart, perhaps now more than ever.
WilWil242 posts since
Feb 26, 2010
Rep Points: 1,281