Ervin, Winfield, Sr.

1869-1961| Pioneer Businessman and Founder, First National Bank of Anchorage (First National Bank Alaska)

Winfield Ervin Sr. was born in Lebanon, Oregon in 1869 and was a candy maker in Bellingham, Washington, where he met his wife, Theora McNall, who was born in that town. They moved to Portland, Oregon for a period of time, and son Winfield Jr., was born there in 1902, followed by daughter Martha Henrietta in 1904. They moved from Portland to Lewiston, Idaho, where their son, Ernest Wells (known as "Wells"), was born in 1906.

Winfield came to Alaska in 1909, and was employed by the Brown & Hawkins Company in Seward. He later transferred to the company's store at Knik, where he remained until moving to Anchorage in 1915. Theora and the three children, who had been living in Bellingham, came to Anchorage to join Winfield in 1917.

He joined the Bank of Anchorage, which was organized by Brown & Hawkins Company, and was employed there until 1922, when he and several investors chartered the First National Bank for the amount of $55,000. That bank opened on January 30, 1922 on the corner of 4th Avenue and G Street, a location where it remained for many decades.

Ervin was an active member of the community, and according to Evangeline Atwood in her book Anchorage: All-American City, he served as president of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce for the three years from 1935-1937. 

The First Presbyterian Church records indicate that the Ervins were among fifty-one people who signed a petition to organize the church in Anchorage. On January 14, 1917, the minister preached a text and then read a list of persons who were received into the membership of the church. Among those listed were Mr. and Mrs. Winfield Ervin Sr., Winfield Ervin Jr., and Martha and Wells Ervin.

Theora Ervin was known as a leader among the church members. One of the organizations of the church was the Friendly Aid Society, whose object was to provide spiritual, social, and financial aid to church members. She was recognized for her outstanding work in promoting the precepts of the organization.

The eldest son, Winfield Jr., married a widow, Velma Brown. She had two sons, Jack Brown and Chet Brown, who died in 1999. Daughter Martha Ervin Maxwell had no children. Son Wells and his wife Doady had two children, Betty Lou and Clayton. Wells died in a plane crash with Hakon Christensen in 1956.

Theora McNall Ervin died in 1957, Winfield, Sr. died in 1961, and Winfield Jr. died in Seattle in 1985. Martha died in 1990.


This biographical sketch of Winfield Ervin, Sr., is based on an essay which originally appeared in John Bagoy's Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage, AK: Publications Consultants, 2001), 53-54. See also the Winfield Ervin file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 3, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK. Photographs courtesy of the Ervin family.  Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012.  Note:  edited slightly by Bruce Parham, April 8, 2016.

Preferred citation: Mina Jacobs, ed., “Ervin, Winfield, Sr.,” Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940,

Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501, or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website, Copyright © 2017 by Cook Inlet Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.