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North Carolina Banking prior to 1865
   The first banks in North Carolina were chartered on December 1804   the Bank of Cape Fear (Wilmington, NC, incorporated Dec. 17) and the Bank of Newbern (Newbern, NC, later named New Bern). These banks were joined by the State Bank of North Carolina, chartered in 1810.   Here is a brief overview of banking in the state prior to 1865. 
   Discussion of the need for a bank in the state was considered seriously in 1802. On a motion by Dr. Jones of Johnston County, a committee was established led by Jones to look into the issue in 1803.
   By 1804, incorporation bills were introduced for banks in Wilmington and Newbern.
   The Bank of Newbern was the first bank to open, beginning operations in July 8, 1805. The Bank of Cape Fear opened for business on Nov. 4, 1805.
   A state bank bill was passed in 1805, but the proposed institution was not developed.
   At the December 1810 legislative session, The State Bank of North Carolina was chartered and it began operating in 1811. All of these institutions had the authorization to open branches.
   The Federal Government did not issue paper notes until the Civil War, so many of these early state banks provided their own banknote currency, which often was depreciated outside the state by other financial institutions. These banknotes widely ranged in denominations, including notes for $1, $3, $4, $5, $6, $7, $8, $9, $10, etc.
   The Bank of Cape Fear was the most aggressive in establishing branch operations of the two early banks with multiple branches.
   The state owned stock in both the Cape Fear and the Newbern banks, which paid it dividends. In 1810, the state legislature created another bank, the State Bank of North Carolina, in which the state also owned stock.
   The Federal Government re-established  a national bank with the Second Bank of the United States (chartered in 1816). Opened for business on January 7, 1817, the Second Bank of the United States also created 28 branch offices around the country, including a branch in Fayetteville, NC, which operated from 1818-1835. As did the state-chartered banks, the federal bank also issued banknotes.
   In addition to banks, which could issue banknote currency, there also were numerous savings banks targeting small depositors, mainly established toward the end of the 1850s.

Financial Depressions
   There were multiple national financial crises in the antebellum period which impacted businesses and banking including the
Panic of 1819 (when conversion of banknotes to specie coin, gold and silver was suspended 1819-1820), 
Panic of 1837 (general business depression 1837-1843, limited specie redemption) and 
Panic of 1857 a depression caused by bank failures (in Ohio and other states) caused by speculation in railroad and canal company stocks.
   As the state's economy grew in the 1820s-1850s, additional banks were chartered and operated in cities around the state in the late 1840s and 1850s.

Civil War Dooms Antebellum Banks
   North Carolina banks compiled large war debts from state government during the Civil War. Following the conflict, Congress levied a 10% tax  (July 1865) on any banknotes issued or re-issued by state chartered banks. Plus, at a post-war convention to restructure the North Carolina state government in October 1865, the delegates voted to repudiate all state debts from the war. This action made the war debts worthless, forcing the immediate liquidation of almost all of the existing antebellum banks.

Antebellum Banks (Listing)
   Additional information will be made to this list from time to time, including adjusting dates as additional research indicates. There were more banks or savings banks chartered than listed below, but some of these never reached the operational stage. Additional research may uncover more details on the Bank of Salisbury (chartered Feb. 1859), and reported savings banks in Washington, Milton and Salem (Weekly Register, Raleigh, May 18, 1859). Substantial records were lost and scholars have consistently under-reported economic activity in the pre-Civil War era as financial institutions did not survive, although many executives simply organized new banks during reconstruction. 
   Any information or corrections should be send to Ron Vinson.

Bank of Cape Fear
(Wilmington) — 1804 - 1866; this bank opened agencies and branch offices in Asheville (1843 - 1866), Fayetteville (1807 - 1865), Greensboro (1851-66), Hillsborough (1815 - ), Raleigh (1807 - 1815; 1838 - 1866), Salem (1815 - 1866), Salisbury (1807 - 1814; 1840 - 1865) and Washington, NC (1836 - 1866), during 1862 - 1865, this branch moved to Salisbury & Morganton but conducted little business in this period. The repudiation of war debts led to the bank's bankruptcy, but settling all obligations were not completed until 1870s. 
   This bank issued more than 50 types of banknotes (samples) during its existence. Click for etching of their Wilmington headquarters. or more information about this bank and each branch, including officers and directors.


Bank of Newbern (Newbern — NC legislature officially changed name to New Bern in 1890s) — 1804 - 1837; This bank issued two banknotes early in its existence — for five and ten dollars. There was a branch of this bank in Charlotte, established between 1818-1823 and closed in 1832. There was a Halifax branch by 1818. The Milton branch was opened around 1818. Raleigh also had a branch at least between 1826-1829. The bank failed to get its chartered renewed in 1834, probably due to circulating too many of its banknotes compared to the amount of specie (coins, gold or silver) that it maintained to back up its notes. After the re-chartering was rejected, there was some period  needed to wrap up business (1835 - 1837).
James McKinlay, president (April 24, 1805 - January 6, 1817);
John Stanly, president (January 6, 1817 - 1827?);
William Gaston, president (1828 - n.d.); 
Marcus Cicero Stephens, cashier (1805 - 1828);
John W. Guion, cashier (1829? - 1834)
Joseph Fulford, cashier (1835? - 1837)
Click for more information about this bank and each branch, including officers and directors.

State Bank of North Carolina (Raleigh) — chartered 1810; operations began in  1811. This bank operated under the 1810 charter and amendments until 1834, wrapping up its business in 1837. This bank created branches at Edenton, Fayetteville, New Bern, Tarborough, Salisbury and Wilmington. During the War of 1812, the currency was removed in 1813 from the branches at Edenton and New Bern over concerns of British invasion. Morganton branch probably established 1829. 
   It was re-chartered as the 
Bank of the State of North Carolina (1834 - 1859). The reason for the new company was to failure of the original bank to maintain a proper ratio of circulated banknotes versus the amount of specie supporting those notes. This version of the bank had branches in Charlotte (1834-1866), Elizabeth City, Fayetteville, Milton, Morganton (1829 - 1865), New Bern, Tarboro, Wilmington and Windsor (1834-1866).  
   It was again re-chartered in 1859 as
The Bank of North Carolina. This version of the bank closed the Elizabeth City branch, while keeping open the others and adding one in Salisbury. The bank closed in 1866/67. The bank issued its last banknote in January 1866. sample.
   Click for more details on this bank, branches, officers and leaders.

Second Bank of the United States (Fayetteville branch) — 1817 - 1835;  check sample
William Barry Grove, president Fayetteville branch (1817 - 1818)
Matthew Bevan, president Fayetteville branch (1818 - <1822)
John Huske, president Fayetteville branch (1823 - 1835)
John W. Sandford, cashier Fayetteville branch (1818? - 1835); later  cashier of the Bank of Clarendon (Fayetteville), see below.

Merchants Bank (Newbern) — chartered Dec. 2, 1834; operational from 1835 - 1865; officers and board elected on Apri 21, 1835, with business being started in summer/early fall; this bank replaced the Bank of Newbern; during the Civil War, the bank and its employees relocated operations to Greensboro, moving back to New Bern after the war was over. sample banknotes
John Snead, president (1835 - )
John W. Guion, cashier (1835 - by July 1840)
John Coart, teller (1835 - )
Charles Slover, president (<1852 - )
Joseph Fulford, cashier (1837 - 1851+)
William W. Clarke, cashier (<1851 - 1862+ )
Directors (1835  - 1836): John Snead, John P. Daves, Will C. Hunter, M. E. Manly, George Slover

Commercial Bank of Wilmington (Wilmington) — 1847 - 1866?; 
Oscar G. Parsley, president (<1851 - 1859); 
Timothy Savage, cashier (<1851 - ); 
Jonathan W. Savage, cashier(<1856 - 1859+)
Stephen Jewett, teller (-1852-)
Directors (1852): Dr. J. J. Bellamy, A. J. DeRosset, Jr., Bennett Flanner, Edward Kidder, Z. Latimer, John McRae, N. N. Nixon, O. G. Parsley, Joshua G. Wright

Bank of Fayetteville (Fayetteville) — chartered Jan. 27, 1849; organized and launched Sept. 18, 1849; operations ceased around 1862/65;
sample banknotes
John Duncan Starr, president (1849 - 1862)
William D. Broadfoot, cashier (1849 - 1862+)
   Click for more information on directors and staff

Bank of Washington (Washington, NC) — chartered Jan. 22, 1851 - 1864;   sample banknotes
James Edmund Hoyt, president (1851 - 1862/64) 
Martin Stevenson, cashier (1851-1862/64)

Bank of Wadesborough (Wadesborough) — 1851 - 1865; sample banknotes
Walter R. Leak, president (1851 - May 5, 1859) 
H. B. Hammond, cashier (1851 - 1859), president (1859 - )
N. Beverly, clerk (-1858 - 1859+)
Directors: (1859) Stephen William Cole, Walter. R. Leak, George W. Little, P. Richardson, T. Robinson, W. C. Smith, J. White.

Greensborough Mutual Life Insurance & Trust Company (Greensborough or Greensboro) — 1851 - 1865/66?; sample
Ralph Gorrell, president 
Lyndon Swaim, vice president 
D. P. Weir, secretary & treasurer ( - Jan. 29, 1865)

Raleigh Savings Bank (Raleigh, NC) — chartered in 1851; not sure if this institution every became operational; 

Bank of Charlotte (Charlotte) — 1852 - 1866; sample
H. B. Williams, president ( - 1858); J. J. ?Blackman?, president (1859 - )
W. A. Lucas, cashier ( - 1858); M. P. ?Pegram?, cashier (1859 - )

Bank of Yanceyville (Yanceyville) — chartered Dec. 10, 1852 - 1865?; sample banknotes
James Hill, president (1853-54)
Thomas D. Johnston, president (1855 - ) 
Joseph J. Lawson, cashier (1853 - 1856+ )

Farmers Bank of North Carolina (Elizabeth City, later at Greensboro) — 1854 - 1866?,  moved to Greensboro and renamed Farmers Bank of North Carolina at Greensboro (1862). sample banknotes issued at and later at .
Joseph H. Pool, president (1854 - 1859), Elizabeth City
W. W. Griffin, cashier (1854 - 1859), Elizabeth City
Cyrus P. Mendenhall, president (1862 - ), Greensboro
W. A. Caldwell, cashier (1862 - 1865/66), Greensboro

Savings Bank of Wilmington (Wilmington) — 1854 - 1861+

Bank of Wilmington (Wilmington) — chartered Jan. 15, 1855 - 1865; sample
John McRae, president (1855 - )
J. Jewett, cashier ( 1859 )

Bank of Clarendon
(Fayetteville) — 1855 - 1865?; sample banknotes
Thomas Wilburn, president (1855)
John D. Williams, president (1855 - 1865?)
John W. Sandford, cashier (1855 - 1865?)

Bank of Commerce
(New Bern) — 1859 - 1868?; sample
A. T. Jenkins, president (1859 - 1868)
J. A. Guion, cashier (1859 - 1868)

Bank of Lexington
(Lexington) — 1859 - 1865?; this bank also had a branch at Graham, NC. sample
W. B. March, president (September 1861 - )
Benjamin A. Kittrell, president (1859 - summer 1861)
C. F. Lowe, cashier (1859 - )

Oak City Savings Bank (Raleigh) — incorporated Feb. 1859; operational February 17, 1860;
Dr. Thomas Deveraux Hogg, president (1860 - )
John G. Williams, cashier (1860 - )
Directors: Dr. Thomas D. Hogg, Quentin Busbee, Hampden S. Smith, John G. Williams
Other incorporators: Kemp P. Battle, Richard H. Battle

Miners & Planters Bank
(Murphy) — 1859 - 1865?; sample
A. J. Davidson, president
D. C. Harden, cashier

Warrenton Savings Bank (Warrenton) — incorporated Feb. 1859

Fayetteville (N.C.) Savings Bank (Fayetteville) — incorporated Feb. 1859

Hillsboro' Savings Bank (Hillsborough) — organized May 1859 - 1864

Madison Savings Bank (Madison) — incorporated 1861

Bank of Roxboro (Roxboro) — chartered Feb. 22, 1861 - 1865?;
sample banknote
Edwin Godwin Reade, president
C. S. Winstead, cashier

Thomasville Bank
(Thomasville) — 1861 - 1865?
John W. Thomas, president
James H. Holt, cashier

 
  Bank of North Carolina's office in   
  New Bern, circa 1860-1865

 
  Bank of Cape Fear's office in
  Wilmington



  Private Banking in North Carolina
  after the Civil War 
  (link coming soon)

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