The Texas Bankers Association, the oldest state bankers' association, was founded on July 23, 1885, at Lampasas Springs (now Lampasas). The idea for founding the TBA came largely from the successful organization of the American Bankers Association in 1875. Leading the promotion that brought thirty-one bankers from twenty-two Texas cities and towns was Frank R. Malone, cashier of the First National Bank in the host town, aided by E. M. Longcope, assistant cashier of the same bank. The banker-delegates convened at the colorful Park Hotel and selected as the organization's first president a Gonzales banker-lawyer, James Francis Miller, member of the United States Congress. He served two one-year terms and was succeeded by N. B. Sligh, a Galveston banker. The first address at the founding convention was given by Henry Exall of Lampasas Springs, later of Dallas. Many of the early leaders of the TBA were Confederate veterans. Their chief objective in organizing the association was to promote legislative and regulatory changes for banking, specifically to bring about the repeal of the constitutional restriction against the chartering of state banks. Coupled with the state bank issue were others, including the question of the gold standard and the coinage of free silver, and ways of aiding capital formations to encourage the development of business and industry. These issues dominated the early conventions of the association. The running battle to repeal the state bank prohibition in the Texas Constitution was a long one. Not until 1904 did the voters approve the constitutional amendment permitting Texas to establish a dual system of state and national banks. Prior to the constitutional change the system of unchartered private banks provided the competition for national banks.
By 1905 bank association membership reached 630. The first headquarters office was established in Austin, and the Texas Bankers Record, the first official organ of the association, edited by Lena Riddle, was established in 1911. William A. Philpott, Jr., succeeded to the editorship in 1912 and was named the first full-time managing officer of the TBA in 1916. During this period the offices were moved from Austin to Dallas. In 1964 they were returned to Austin at the time of the selection of Samuel Owen Kimberlin, Jr., as executive vice president. The Texas Bankers Association founded the nation`s first woman bankers organization, the Texas Women Bankers Association in 1912. It thrived until the days of World War I, when bank women operated many of Texas banks in the absence of males.
Texas bankers supported the efforts for national currency control as the presidential campaigns developed that landed Woodrow Wilson in the White House. The bankers, through the TBA, had a good listener in E. M. House, who understood the efforts for a Federal Reserve System. The TBA was instrumental in promoting Dallas as the city for the Reserve Regional Bank instead of New Orleans. The association continued to pursue the efforts to protect banking from criminal and political attack that had led to its founding. Over the years it considered issues including currency reform, interest rates, insured bank deposit policies, crime against banks, and anti-bank legislation and regulation. It also promoted agriculture, manufacturing, and the development of deep water ports. The rapid increase in the number of bank robberies in the 1920s led the TBA to institute bold but controversial action by the establishment of the Dead Bank Robber Reward Program in 1926. A cash reward of $5,000 was offered for the legal killing of each bank robber in the act of holding up a bank. Viewed in some circles as an extreme measure, it caused considerable media attention throughout the country. The cash reward, acclaimed by the bankers as an effective remedy against the number of bank heists at the outset, was discontinued in 1964.
Features of the TBA's Centennial Year in 1985 were the publication of an illustrated volume of banking and TBA history, The First Century, and a Centennial Museum in the TBA headquarters building in Austin, designed by the Institute of Texan Cultures. As of June 1994 Robert E. Harris was president and chief executive officer, and the association had 2,540 full service members. The Centennial Museum no longer existed.