The Planters National Bank of Bennettsville, South Carolina

The Planters National Bank of Bennettsville



Charter Number:



August 1902


April 1930

        When The Planters National Bank of Bennettsville opened in 1902 the next closest national bank in South Carolina was eighty miles away in Sumter.  For years, Bennettsville and most of the PeeDee area had been isolated from the rest state due to geographic barriers and the lack of a railroad.  The Bank of Marlboro, headed by the McColl family, was the only banking institution in the area.  AJ Matheson’s proposal to bring a national bank to Bennettsville was, to say the least, progressive.  However, there was certainly enough money in Bennettsville to support the bank.  In 1903 it was thought that Marlboro County was the leading cotton producing county in the world; and it was officially recorded by American Agriculturists that one acre in the city produced 254 bushels of corn – enough to win the planter a $1,000 reward (an equivalent of about $25,000 today).
        While funds were being raised for the bank, Matheson saw to it that everyone in town in some way or another had a stake in the bank’s success.  Needless to say, with so many interested parties, the bank got plenty of business and was one of the most successful in the state.  
        Attractive national bank notes from The Planters National Bank of Bennettsville are rather easy to acquire.  For a few hundred dollars a collector can purchase a very presentable 1902 blue seal note.  However, the bank closed in 1930, thus making 1929 small size examples rare.  As with every bank in South Carolina, 1902 red seals are the prize for Bennettsville and should be worth at least a few thousand dollars each.
If you have any currency or other information related to the bank, please contact me.  I would be interested to hear about your find.

First President:

AJ Matheson

First Cashier:

S Shelton

Alexander James Matheson

b. 07/11/1848 - Bennettsville, SC
d. 09/26/1918 - Bennettsville, SC

        Alexander James Matheson was the first president and founder of The Planters National Bank of Bennettsville.  He was a Civil War veteran who tried his hand in many locales and professions before settling down in Bennettsville.  In most circles he was much more closely associated with planting and land development than he was with banking.  During his life he ran the Marlboro Wholesale Grocery Company and The Matheson Real Estate Company.  He had interests in the Bennettsville and Cheraw Railroad and was involved with numerous endeavors related to the cotton industry.  For a period of time AJ Matheson owned the most land in Marlboro and Marion counties, not surprisingly he was also the largest tax payer in the area.
        Mr. Matheson was president of the planters national bank until his death in 1918, at which point his youngest son, Alexander Deems Matheson took over and became president.

Stephen Shelton

b. 02/08/1866 - Buffalo Springs, VA
d. 09/26/1910 - Bennettsville, SC

        It is difficult to determine who signed as cashier for the first national bank notes issued to The Planters National Bank of Bennettsville.  The 1902 Office of the Comptroller of Currency reports shows where J Walter McRae was cashier of the bank.  However, it shows that the bank did not have any national bank notes circulating that year.  That information contradicts with the plate date of July 12, 1902 found on Bennettsville's large size notes.  Stephen Shelton was listed as the cashier of the bank for 1903 and 1904.  There is currently very little known about Stephen Shelton.  He was the son-in-law of Alexander James Matheson, and at the time of his death Shelton was a merchant in Bennettsville.

Other People Associated with the Bank: WC Adams, WB Drake Jr, AS Manning, Hope Hull Newton