Scott County, Tennessee
FNB Chronicles

This page was created 14 May 2014

Glancing Back . . . While Marching Forward

Having been in business since 1904, The First National Bank of Oneida is the oldest corporation in Scott County. There is a lot to celebrate when you consider all the ways the bank, its shareholders, directors, officers and staff have helped mold the progress that our county has enjoyed during the past 90 years. The bank was either innovator, or supporter of innovators, of all the major economic development that has taken place since 1904.

The First National Bank of Oneida has endured economic downturns, including the Great Depression; it has survived World Wars I and II and many military conflicts, skirmishes and crises; it has seen 17 Presidents of the United States sworn in; it has seen technology advance from telegraph to fibre optics and the "information highway"; it has seen transportation progress from the horse and buggy to A-Models to jets to men on the moon. The bookkeeping that once was handwritten and band posted, now is processed on state-of-the-art computer systems.

The following are excerpts from The First National Bank of Oneida: A Chronicle, an historical publication that will be off the press in October 1994. The publication chronicles the bank's 90 year history and will be available free at all offices of First National Bank of Oneida.

THE SCOTT COUNTY BANK, operating under a state bank charter, opened October 4, 1904 and was the first bank in a town on U.S. Highway 27 between Burnside, Kentucky and Harriman, Tennessee.

Jobs were plentiful, the economy was expanding so the time was right and the need was here for a bank. Having had banking experience in Sparta, Tennessee, W.C. Anderson discussed with a group of reputable Scott County merchants, farmers, citizens and businessmen the desirability of organizing a bank in Oneida; subsequently, the "Scott County Bank" was chartered. The original charter for the incorporation was filed by C. Cross, G. W. King, S. B. Anderson, O. H. Anderson, T. K Williams and W. B. Boyd. The first officials of the bank were C. Cross, President; E. G. Foster, Vice President; and W. C. Anderson, Cashier. On August 15, 1905, the Board of Directors was reported as: C. Cross, G. W. King, E. W. Smith, W. H. Buttram, E. G. (Gayson) Foster, Talmon Sexton, Sanders Foster and John C. Lowe.CLAIBORN (CLABE) CROSS was one of the first entrepreneurs of Scott County and Oneida. He operated a general store and hotel, operated a stave and lumber business, he was civic minded and believed Oneida should be incorporated and have paved streets, sidewalks, a good water supply and have a sewer system. He was one of the early oil explorers in the area. He donated land for churches and was the first chairman of the board of the Oneida Independent School System. He organized the Scott County Bank in 1904.

HAVING BEEN OPEN for business just over a year, in 1905 the Scott County Bank's shareholders decided to change from a state chartered bank to a national bank charter. The bank became known as "The Scott County National Bank."

As the lumber industry continued to prosper and the mining, farming and manufacturing industries enjoyed good profits, it seemed to some businessmen that one bank in the county was not enough, so the Robbins Bank and Trust Company was organized by Jasper Hughett, John Pemberton, L. Jeffers, James Fry and Sanders Foster on January 14, 1907.

The Huntsville Banking Company was chartered on March 26, 1909 by James Foster, J. Hatfield, Phillip Law, L. H. Boshears, R. C. Jones, A. H. Doisy, W.H. Potter, L. Jeffers and J. Chambers.

H.F. Cooper and Alfred West were elected directors of Scott County National Bank on December 20, 1913 to fill the unexpired terms of C. Cross and E. G. Foster, who resigned due to a disagreement over who would represent the Scott County National Bank in lawsuits.

H. F. COOPER was the son of Eli Cooper. He was probably one of the most progressive businessmen of his era, about whom a whole book could be written. Among other things, he was responsible for bringing the chicken broiler industry to Scott County. He encouraged and underwrote the raising of broccoli, beans and strawberries as cash crops. He was a developer of the West Oneida/Coopertown section. He owned and operated a public water system in Oneida, using well water. He printed a mail order catalog for his store enterprise in Oneida. He helped form the Plateau Electric Cooperative and was supportive of many other civic, industrial and educational pursuits.

ALFRED WEST served as director until his death in 1948. He was in the mercantile business for a number of years, served as Justice of the Peace and was genuinely interested in the progress of the town and county. He and his wife, Nancy, had seven children: W. O. West, Elmer West, Oscar West, James L. West, Mrs. John (Nell) Lay, Mrs. Elmer (Hester) Newport and Mrs. J. J. (Erie) Sharp.

First National Bank
Chronicle of Events

1904 - 1994

1904 – Opened for business

1905 – Total Resources - $55,178.89

1905 – Changed to National Bank

1913 – Talmon Sexton elected President

1919 – Changed name to First National Bank of Oneida

1919 – Bought City Hotel property

1921 – Moved to new main office building

1923 – Sold old bank building to Oneida Bank and Trust Company

1926 – Leased space in lobby to Western Union for telegraph office

1930 – Acquired baseball park (Fairground) property

1930 – Bromma Parnell (Pemberton) hired *

1930 – Total Resources - $558,954.29

1937 – Bought Robbins Bank and Trust Company

1941 – Sam Blair elected board member

1943 – Talmon Sexton died

1943 – E.C. Terry elected President

1951 – Remodeled bank building

1956 – Joined Scott County Chamber of Commerce

1956 – Howard H. Baker, Jr., Dr. Milford Thompson elected board members

1959 – W.H. Swain elected President

1959 – Harold Cross and C. L. Kline elected board members

1962 – Instituted employee profit sharing plan

1963 – Frank C. Thomas elected board member

1964 – Howard H. Baker, Sr. died

1966 – Helenwood Office opened

1966 – Total resource - $6,772,413.20

1967 – New Main Office dedicated

1967 – Howard Tibbals elected board member

1967 – W.H. Swain elected director of Federal Reserve Bank in Nashville

1968 – Dr. Roy L. McDonald elected board member

1968 – Sam Blair died

1969 – Total Resources - $10,465,497.49

1970 – Don C. Stansberry, Jr. elected board member

1970 – Howard H. Baker, Jr. resigned from board

1972 – Total Resources - $16,353,779

1972 – Jack D. Walz hired

1972 – Capital Stock increased to 400,000 shares outstanding

1973 – Huntsville Office opened

1975 – Michael B. Swain and Robert M. Thompson elected board members

1975 – Winfield Office opened

1977 – Moved bookkeeping to old bank building on Main Street

1979 – Ross Faires and Bromma Pemberton elected board members

1980 – Bromma Pemberton retired

1980 – Scott Thompson elected board member

1980 – Milford Thompson died

1981 – Ruth Thompson elected board member

1981 – Total Resources - $40,361,000.00

1982 – W.H. Swain served as President of Tennessee Bankers Association

1983 – Scott Thompson and Michael Swain assumed responsibility for day- to-day operation of the bank

1983 – Operations Center (old bank building) rebricked

1983 – Helenwood Office expanded

1983 – Installed two automated teller machines

1984 – Introduced new logo on outdoor signs at all offices

1984 – Total Resources - $59,093,000.00

1985 – Lawrence Kline died

1985 – Ron Parkinson elected to board

1985 – Vault addition to Helenwood Community Office

1986 – First Bancorp, Inc. Holding Company formed

1986 – Log facade at Winfield Community Office

1987 – Dr. George Kline elected to board

1987 – Harold Cross died

1988 – Converted to IBM System 36 computer

1988 – M.A.P. (Management Advisory Personnel) Group formed

1988 – New Office Hours; discontinued Saturday banking

1989 – W. H. Swain elected Director of Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta

1989 – Total Resources - $81,849,232.00

1989 – Prime Time Club's first trip

1989 – Earl Burress died

1989 – First Insured Insurance Agency opened

1989 – Began publishing FNB Chronicle

1990 – Donna Jeffers died

1990 – Junior Advisory Board established

1991 – Paul McGraw elected to board

1991 – Stephen Danny Cross elected to board

1991 – Jack Walz retired

1991 – Dr. George Kline died

1991 – Teller machines purchased

1992 – William Paul Phillips elected to board

1992 – Jamie Cotton elected to board

1992 – Jack Walz died

1993 – Michael Swain elected President and CEO

1993 – 401-K Retirement Plan for employees started

1993 – FNB Mini Grant Program in local schools started

1994 – Photo ID Program started

1994 – 90th Anniversary of First National Bank

1994 – Upgraded computer to IBM AS-400 and converted to Jack Henry CIF 20/20 Software

TALMON SEXTON became the second president of the bank in 1914, a position he held until his death in 1943. His children are Kermit Sexton, Clifford Sexton, Arthur Sexton, Belle Sexton, Ora Mae Yancey, Bessie Jeffers and Rosa Lee Bothel. Although not involved with the day-to-day management of the bank, Mr. Sexton faithfully presided over the board of directors for 30 years. He was involved with mining and farming and is fondly remembered for his keen sense of humor, witticisms and earthy philosophy. It's remembered by his grandchildren that he admonished them to "keep their first dollar, before they spent their second one." Also, in a fracas with the Internal Revenue Service, he met with them in Knoxville and, after much discussion, Talmon said, "OK, boys, this had gone far enough. I'm willing to forget this whole mess if you all are." It must have taken them by surprise, because that's just what happened - the case reportedly was dropped!

Enacted into law in December, 1913, the Federal Reserve Act was the most important and revolutionary modification of the country's system of money and banks since the national banking legislation of a half century before.

The Scott County National Bank joined the Federal Reserve Bank system in 1914 by stock ownership and its successor, the First National Bank of Oneida, remains a member today.

WITH THE ACCEPTANCE of the resignation of H. R. Anderson, effective October 1, 1914, B. L. Sadler was elected Cashier of the Scott County National Bank and Clifford Sexton (Talmon Sexton's son who retired as Cashier of the bank in 1953) was elected teller and bookkeeper.

B. L. SADLER was elected to the board of directors in 1917 and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1958.

One of the more dangerous duties of Mr. Sadler was riding the Tennessee Railroad train to the mining and lumber camps along its route delivering payrolls.

World War I began on July 28, 1914. The United States entered the war on March 14, 1917. During the critical Great War months, demands for increases in coal production caused prices for coal to soar. The miners were able to accumulate small sums beyond the absolute requirement for rent, clothing and food. The washing machine, the icebox, then the refrigerator and a few "touring cars" could be seen around the camp houses.

ON APRIL 25, 1919, the Scott County National Bank's name was changed to The First National Bank of Oneida.

As the economy grew, there grew also the need for such public facilities as streets and roads, schools, water supplies, etc. Bond issues were made to finance these projects and the First National Bank of Oneida helped market these bonds, besides carrying substantial amounts in the bank's bond portfolio, and some directors of the bank personally signed the bond issues as guarantors.

Approval was received from Senate Bill No. 1064 on May 17, 1915 for the Oneida Independent School District and Scott County bonds were issued in 1916 for the purpose of erecting a new building on land purchased from A. C. Terry. This same year, the county court had taken steps to correct the crowded school conditions at Huntsville and added a fine, three-story dormitory on the school grounds which lodged teachers on the first floor, and the boys and girls on the others. By 1920 there were four other two-year high schools, located at Buffalo, Norma, Pleasant Grove and New River; and the students finishing at those completed the other two years at Huntsville or at Robbins, which had a four year high school since 1917.

For the first sixteen years in business, the bank's main office was located in the building on the corner of Bank and Depot Streets on land acquired from Mr. and Mrs. Clabe Cross.

Jim Owens had a two-room log cabin on the corner of Main and Depot Streets in Oneida near the "town spring." The old house later went to Rans Marcum, who kept boarders and travelers and the house came to be known as the "Oneida House." Eli Cooper bought the property and changed the name to the "City Hotel," Oneida's first hotel. Management of the hotel was turned over to Ben Hail who added a restaurant, also Oneida's first. The City Hotel then went into the hands of a Mrs. Swain, a relative of the Coopers, and she put in a taxi service, the first in Oneida. A third story was added with a "glassed-in" verandah, making it the only three-story building in Scott County. The hotel continued until 1920 when Eli Cooper, father of H. F. Cooper, sold the property to The First National Bank of Oneida as a site for its new main office. The hotel building was sold at auction on June 26, 1920 for $300 and removed from the site by the buyer, as agreed, by September, 1920.

The move to the new bank building took place on the evening of August 9, 1921 and the bank was open for business in its new quarters on August 10, 1921. This site remained the main office of The First National Bank of Oneida (for 46 years) until 1967.

In 1923, five banks were in operation in Scott County. The First Trust and Savings Bank and the Oneida Bank and Trust Company joined the three existing banks which were The First National Bank of Oneida, The First National Bank of Huntsville and the Robbins Bank and Trust Company.

Mssrs. H. F. Cooper (who was affiliated with the First National Bank of Oneida as shareholder and director from 1913-1933); C. C. Newport; A. C. Terry; Claude Terry; John Stanley; and several others organized First Trust and Savings Bank in 1923. C. C. Newport, brother-in-law of H. F. Cooper, managed the department store for Mr. Cooper from 1914 until 1923, when he went to First Trust and Savings Bank as President and Cashier.

The Oneida Bank and Trust Company was organized in 1923 by C. (Clabe) Cross (who helped organize the Scott County Bank in 1904 and served as its president until 1913); N. E. (Nick) Stanley; G. W. Cross (its first cashier); Dexter Laxton; Mounty Jeffers; C. C. West; E.G. Foster (who resigned following a disagreement as a director of the Scott County National Bank in 1913); and J. I. Foster.

E. CHESTER TERRY went to work for the First National Bank of Oneida in 1918 after having taught school at Norma and then worked for the Paint Rock Coal Company as a bookkeeper. He was married to Rosa A. Marcum and had two daughters, Adrienne and Colleen. Except for a year in 1922-23, when he was employed by a bank in Fentress County, he was employed by the First National Bank of Oneida. He served as director from 1929 until his death in 1967. He served as president of the bank from 1943 until his retirement in 1959. Mr. Terry was a member of the Oneida School Board, Secretary/Treasurer of the Scott County Fair Association for many years, Past Master of Oneida Masonic Lodge, member of the Oneida Water Board, Treasurer of the First United Methodist Church, charter member and officer of the Kiwanis Club, and board member of Plateau Electric Cooperative.

BROMMA PARNELL was born and reared at Oliver Springs, Tennessee. After high school she graduated from Knoxville Business College and herAunt and Uncle, Elda and Jeff Caldwell, owners of the Commercial Hotel in Oneida, persuaded Bromma to come to Oneida to find work. Dr. Johnson was the pharmacist at the Star Drug Store and stayed at the hotel and Aunt Elda told him that Bromma was looking for work. He told Bromma that she could work at the drug store and meet people and try and find a job for which she was better suited. After three weeks at the drug store, she was hired by Colditz Brothers Motor Company as a bookkeeper. This was during the "Great Depression" so she only worked there a few months, because of necessary staff cutbacks.

She then went to work for William York, Clerk and Master at the Courthouse in Huntsville. Returning from work the second day for Mr. York, Bromma learned that B. L. Sadler, Vice President and CEO of the First National Bank of Oneida, wanted to interview her. He offered her a job as stenographer and bookkeeper in 1930 on a trial basis. She jokes today of her so-called "trial basis" job which lasted more than 50 years!

Bromma retired from day-to-day participation in the bank activities in 1980, but remains active as Senior Vice President.

On Sunday, December 7, 1942 at 7:55 a.m., the United States was shocked by the bombing of Pearl Harbor, our largest naval base in the Pacific.

Local loan sources had virtually dried up and other investment returns drastically decreased. Some banks entirely stopped paying interest for deposits during this time.

In 1943, a terrific blow was dealt the bank with the death of its president of more than 30 years, Talmon Sexton. E. C. Terry was elected to succeed Mr. Sexton, an office beheld until his retirement in 1959.

THE ERA up into the 1960s saw tremendous development. Supermarkets with self-service and usually combined with "strip" shopping center stores were quickly replacing the "Mom and Pop" groceries. It seems the pent-up purchasing restraints of the 1930s where lack of funds and uncertainty kept purchasing low and in the 1940s where scarcities inhibited purchasing, were released with a vengeance when the economy boomed after the war. The monthly-payment plan made purchasing even more affordable.

These years after the war saw an exciting upturn for the local economy. In 1956, the Scott County Chamber of Commerce was formed and the Scott County Hospital opened with 38 beds. The Boss Manufacturing Plant, which was engaged in the manufacture of gloves, was the first to locate in the area to become known as the Oneida Industrial Park.

Citizens Gas Utility District purchased the privately-owned and operated natural gas company.

Under the direction of charter board members, W. H. Swain, J. T. Baker and Dan B. Walker, the Huntsville Utility District was formed.

The First National Bank of Oneida was one of several banks that made up the Hamilton National Associates, headquartered in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 1959, Dr. Milford Thompson, Howard H. Baker, Jr., and W. H. Swain successfully bid to purchase the controlling stock in the First National Bank of Oneida and W. H. Swain became president of the bank, succeeding E. C. Terry.

W. H. (BILL) SWAIN moved to Scott County, Tennessee from Detroit, Michigan in 1942. The Swain Lumber Mill at Helenwood developed into a large business of buying and manufacturing lumber.

W.H. Swain continued to run Swain Lumber Mills until 1978. At one point, the Swain mill was buying from 32 different sawmills, delivering from a radius of 35 miles. Swain spent part of each day at the mill and the rest of the day at the bank and, at the same time, rounded out his financial education by graduating from Louisiana State University's School of Banking of the South (in 1962), and Harvard’s Business School Advanced Management Program (in 1969).

The First National Bank of Oneida has prospered under his leadership. Total resources have gone, in 35 years, from $2,793,852.67 to the anticipated milestone in 1994 of $100,000,000.00.

On October 31, 1973, the Huntsville Office was opened in the building which had housed the First National Bank of Huntsville, Tennessee. The original fixtures of the earlier bank, combined with other turn-of-the -century furniture and fixtures that have been added, make this office of the bank truly unique.

THE 1970s saw an increase in oil and natural gas exploration in Scott County, and the "West Oneida Fields" discovery brought an oil boom into focus. Coal mining was still under way and the development of two industrial sites in Helenwood attracted several manufacturers.

One of the most momentous events for the future of Scott County came in 1974 when an Act of Congress created the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

Tourism and the inherent service jobs to accommodate visitors to this scenic attraction are impacting the economy of Scott County. The Bandy Creek Recreation Area, featuring modern camping facilities with a swimming pool and horse stables, draws large numbers of visitors from early spring to late fall. Hiking, one of the main attractions to the park, is enjoyed year round. Canoeing and rafting on this scenic whitewater river is heralded as one of the South's best.

IN KEEPING WITH an earlier established policy to bring the services of the bank conveniently close to its customers, the Winfield Office opened in October, 1975. With the opening of this office, the bank had furthered its goal to have an office located in close reach to its customers and the developing business centers of the county.

A MONUMENTAL STEP for the bank was made April 27, 1987 with the formation of the First Bancorp, Inc., one-bank holding company. Being owned by the holding company allowed the First National Bank of Oneida opportunities otherwise not afforded, such as being able to offer a broad spectrum of insurance to our customers through establishment of an insurance agency. First Insured Agency, housed in the main office of First National Bank of Oneida, opened in 1989, offering a full range of property and casualty insurance.

In 1989, the first motor coach trip of the newly-formed "Prime Time Club" of First National Bank for customers 65 years of age and older, or retired, was taken to Crossville, Tennessee to see a play at the Cumberland County Playhouse. These trips have proven to be popular among retirees, as well as, all ages who like group travel and not having to worry about driving and travel arrangements. Destinations have included Canada and New England in autumn; Branson, Missouri; Chattanooga Aquarium; Opryland Hotel, and Nashville NOW; the U.S. Virgin Isles; Hawaii; Alaskan Cruise, and many trips to Knoxville for plays and concerts.

IN THE FALL of 1989, to commemorate the bank's 85th anniversary, it was decided to give our customers and friends a gift on our birthday. The FNB Chronicle, a quarterly tabloid focusing on local historical data, was introduced. Now in its fifth year of publication, the FNB Chronicle is a tremendously popular communication vehicle for the bank;

The year 1990 saw a six-to-one vote margin passing the Oneida Special School District's bond issue referendum. Coupled with private pledges, this brought to fruition new school facilities for Oneida Elementary, Middle and High Schools. The large sum of private donations toward these facilities and curriculum are unparalleled and have resulted in state-of-the-art educational programs, using the latest technological media, and has set these schools up as models for future schools.

IN AN EFFORT to establish the Roane State Community College satellite in a permanent facility, Chairman W. H. Swain donated 37 acres of his property in Helenwood (valued at $135,000) to the college as a site for the facility.

Because of Mr. Swain's contributions to the establishment of the facility in Helenwood, the drive leading into the campus is named W. H. Swain Boulevard.

As we look to the future with enthusiasm and optimism, we salute our fine staff for their loyalty and dedication, and we express heartfelt thanks to our customers because it's through their trust in our strength that has made First National Bank of Oneida the leading bank in our area.

One very important thing has not changed in 90 years. The only business of The First National Bank of Oneida is customer service. The customer of 1904 is no different than the customer of 1994, insofar as what you expect from your bank. You want accuracy, fair treatment, confidentiality, friendliness, to be appreciated, and convenience. We are proud of the many dreams we have helped our customers fulfill, of the numerous and varied civic projects we have sponsored and participated in, and of the daily fellowships we have shared with our friends.

We are 90years strong and WE LOOK TO THE FUTURE AS WE HONOR THE PAST.

FNB Chronicle, Vol. 6, No. 1 – Fall 1994
First National Bank
P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841
(p1, 4-5, 9)

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