The Fifth Third Museum
Where we invest in history
Celebrating our shared heritage in Cincinnati
Since 1858, Fifth Third Bank has left an indelible signature on the people and places of Cincinnati. Now you can explore the bank’s rich heritage and legacy at the Fifth Third Bank Museum.
Explore how Fifth Third—and the city—have grown over the decades through events and connections that not only shaped the bank but also helped shape the Cincinnati community.
How We Got Our Name
We’re often asked about our name. While a few legends exist over the origin of our name, watch here for the real story.
How It All Began
Our story is still unfolding, but it began on June 17, 1858. Watch how Fifth Third got started over 160 years ago. Inside The Vault, you’ll find a featured item of Fifth Third history on display.
Honoring Our Heroes
Like all cities across the nation, Cincinnati was transformed during World War II. As thousands went off to serve in the military, others served the war effort on the home front through ration programs, war bond rallies, factory work and more.
Dozens of Fifth Third Union Trust Co. employees went to the front lines, including Maj. Havelock Nelson, one of the highest ranking Cincinnatians among the defenders of the Philippines, and Pvt. Bill McInnes.
Havelock Nelson was born in Canton, Ohio, and grew up in Springfield. Eventually, he attended Wittenberg University, where he played football. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Nelson enlisted in the Marine Corps and was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division, 6th Marine Regiment. Less than a year later, he was in the trenches in France. His unit fought in several heavy engagements, including Belleau Wood, one of the momentous battles of Marine Corps history. For their actions at Belleau Wood, all members of the regiment were awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French Government. Nelson was honorably discharged as a sergeant on Aug. 13, 1918.
In 1925, he re-enlisted in the Ohio National Guard, joining the 107th Mechanized Cavalry. On May 24, 1927, at the age of 29, he married Kathleen Bouchette Jones. At that time, he was an investment broker of the Glencoe Hotel in Cincinnati, then joined Fifth Third Union Trust in 1930 as an Investment Analyst.
He became an officer—a second lieutenant—in 1928 and was promoted to first lieutenant the following year. In August 1939, with war already raging in Asia and appearing likely in Europe, Nelson was promoted to captain and given command of Troop B of the 22nd Mechanized Cavalry. In February 1941, as tensions with Japan increased, he was ordered back into active service and sent to the Philippines, where he was promoted to major and put in command of the 192nd Tank Battalion on the Bataan Peninsula.
After the Japanese invasion and subsequent American surrender in April 1942, Nelson survived the infamous Bataan Death March to Camp O’Donnell, where Allied prisoners were being held. As the story goes, during the march, some prisoners were issued money by the Japanese to use to buy food. However, when they reached the camp, the prisoners were searched, and anyone found carrying Japanese items were sentenced to death for "looting" the bodies of dead Japanese soldiers. Maj. Nelson was shot with a group of several other prisoners and thrown into a pit for burial.
Unbeknownst to his would-be executioners, however, he was only wounded. He regained consciousness hours later in the mass grave, climbed from the pit along with a wounded Filipino prisoner and slipped into the jungle. He fled to the hills and was found by a friendly Filipino man. The man had no medical supplies and was unable to tend to Nelson’s wounds. The man later wrote to Nelson’s wife that he had died in the man’s arms.
In the bank’s 1945 annual report, President John J. Rowe wrote: "We received confirmation recently of the death of Major Havelock D. Nelson—a hero in every sense of the word, respected, admired, and mourned by all of us.... We are immensely proud of the contribution our officers and staff have made to the ability of our great institution to take care of the load placed upon our facilities during the war years, and their contributions in building a progressive and strong institution which we believe to be excellently prepared and competent to enter the era before us."
Nelson was 46 years old at his death and was survived by his wife and two teenage daughters. In 1947, the Havelock D. Nelson American Legion Post 681 was formed in his honor. It was reformed in 2007 in West Chester Township, north of Cincinnati.
Bill McInnes was born Jan. 8, 1920, in Cincinnati. His family lived in the city’s Oakley neighborhood, where he and his sister, Roseann, attended St. Cecilia School. He later attended Withrow and Purcell high schools over two years, eventually leaving school and taking a job as a mail clerk at Fifth Third Union Trust Co. In 1939, both his parents died unexpectedly, and Bill and Roseann went to live with their aunt. Before long, he was promoted at work to bookkeeper.
On Dec. 10, 1941, at age 22, he enlisted in the Army. He was assigned to the 94th Infantry Division, 376th Infantry Regiment, Company L. After intense training in Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, his unit left for Europe on Aug. 6, 1944 aboard the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth, which had been requisitioned for military service. They arrived in England on Aug. 11 and continued training. It was during this time that Bill was able to visit his father’s home village in Scotland.
The 94th Infantry was sent to France a month later, deploying through Utah Beach, famous from the Normandy invasion three months earlier. The division was assigned to contain German forces in Brittany that were cut off from retreat by the rapid advance of Allied forces in the breakout from the Normandy region. Pvt. McInnes and the rest of the 376th Infantry was assigned to a line outside Saint-Nazaire. Company L was deployed to cover a strategic 10-road crossroads, known as "The Spider," five miles north of the village of Blain.
On Sept. 21, just seven days after landing in France, the company was attacked simultaneously by several German patrols. According to the letter his commanding officer wrote his aunt, Bill, by then 24, was alone in a forward position when a German grenade landed directly in his foxhole and exploded. He was killed instantly. Initially interred in Europe, he was brought back to the U.S. in 1948 and buried in St. Joseph’s New Cemetery in Cincinnati’s Price Hill neighborhood. After his death, his sister, Roseann, continued to have memorial masses said, dedicated to him, at St. Cecilia (Oakley) and St. Aloysius (Bond Hill) well into the 1950s. He is survived today only by his niece.
It’s important that we not forget what Memorial Day is about – those who have given everything for us to remain free. The Fifth Third Bank Museum is proud to keep these stories alive so that their sacrifices are never forgotten.
Our featured exhibits include:
Advertising Through the Decades
See how the bank’s advertising has evolved over time, from old print advertisements to some TV commercials you’ll probably remember.
The Legacy of George A. Schaefer, Jr.
History Spotted Here
We're happy you spotted a historic object at your favorite Fifth Third branch or on the Signature Wall at the Fifth Third Museum. You can learn more about what you saw here.
History Spotted at our Branches
Fifth Third Museum Signature Wall
The Signature Wall features the signatures of more than 25 Fifth Third Bank presidents and other prominent Cincinnatians who not only helped shape Fifth Third Bank but also helped the city of Cincinnati prosper. A key to the signatures is located on the pillar in the middle of the museum.
Explore Our Timeline
Here you’ll find plenty of Fifth Third’s key moments and industry firsts that may surprise you including how the bank was the first to open branches in shopping malls and grocery stores, and the first to launch an online shared network of ATMs, named JEANIE.®
The Fifth Third Museum archives contains a diverse mix of historic materials documenting the past and present of the bank, including physical objects, audio and visual media, periodicals, paintings, photographs and other bank documents. For research requests, please email us at FifthThirdMuseum@53.com. Please allow 3–5 days for a response.
The Fifth Third Museum is free and open to the public.