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Rubenstein Center Scholarship

Dividends for Freedmen Claimants

An 1881 newspaper article detailing settlements to be paid after Freedman's Bank failure

[The Washington Post Jun 15, 1881; pg. 2]



Claimants Wanted for Funds – Sixty Per Cent. To be Paid.

THE POST published, a few weeks since, an interview with Comptroller Knox regarding the progress of the settlement of the affairs of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company. In this was given a general idea by Mr. Knox of the position of the bank's finances. Yesterday an official and well digested statement of the condition and prospects of the settlement was made. By this it appears that the act of February 21 placed the affairs of the bank in the hands of the Comptroller of the Currency, who was appointed a commissioner for the purpose of closing up its affairs. Comptroller Knox filed his bond of $20,000 on March 7, and entered upon his duties. Since that date he has sold real estate for cash amounting to $40,733[.]25, and the total receipts from all sources have been $59,364[.]20, $31,050 of which was invested in sex per cent. bonds, which have been reduced about $12,000 yearly by placing the affairs of the bank in the hands of the Comptroller, instead of continuing them in the hands of the Commissioners, as previously. Circulars were issued by the new Commissioner; which have been extensively circulated, and have been read in all the principal colored churches of the country, calling upon all creditors who have not received either of the three dividends which have been declared, to present their books and receive dividends on or before August 21, 1881, or such claims will be thereafter barred, and the amount thereof distributed among the other creditors as required by law. Three dividends have been paid since the failure of the bank. The first on November 1, 1875, of twenty per cent., upon claims amounting to $2,767,086, and the second and third, each of ten per cent., on March 20, 1878, and September 1, 1880. The amount due upon the first dividend is $39,248[.]24, and is payable to 31,967 depositors, or an average of about $1[.]20 to each depositor. The amount due upon the second dividend is $30, 927[.]20, and is payable to 36,078 depositors, or an average of about eighty-five cents to each depositor; and the amount due upon the third dividend is $54,539[.]37 and is payable to 40,000 depositors, or an average of about $1[.]35 to each. The total amount of unclaimed dividends is, therefore, $124,715[.]87 and the average amount due to each depositor about $3[.]50. Of these dividends $6,582[.]14 has been disbursed to 235 claimants since the Comptroller took possession of the assets and the circulars were issued to the creditors.

The real estate belonging to the bank is estimated to be worth $325,000, which includes the banking house property. This property is probably the handsomest building site for a public building, hotel or opera house in the city of Washington; and has a frontage of 186 feet 10 inches on Pennsylvania avenue, opposite the Treasury Department, and 136 feet of depth opposite Lafayette Square, near the Arlington Hotel, and contains an aggregate of 23,121 square feet of ground. The bank building covers an area of 62 feet 11 inches by 111 feet, is a fire-proof building, constructed with especial reference to its occupation for Government offices, and to its extension. The original cost to the bank of this property, including the building, was $258,315[.]66. It is now occupied by the Attorney-General and the Court of Claims, and yields to the bank a rental of $20,000 a year. The Comptroller says that a bill passed the Senate during the last session of Congress appropriating $250,000 for the purchase of this building, and would undoubtedly have passed the House if it had been reached. He considers the property cheap at that sum and has but little doubt the Government will be authorized to purchase it either for the proposed new Pension building or for some other purpose, during the next session of Congress. The bank also holds a small amount of real estate in other cities, and also other assets, in all estimated to be worth $60,000. As soon as the bank property can be sold at the price ($250,000) at which it is held, another and final dividend will be made to the creditors, probably of about twenty per cent., thus returning to such unfortunate depositors of this institution as can be found sixty per cent. upon their original deposits, which amounted to $2,963,904[.]89 at the time of the failure.