The First National Bank of Clinton, South Carolina

The First National Bank of Clinton



Charter Number:



January 1906


January 1931

    When it comes to banking in Clinton, one name usually comes to mind, Bailey.  In fact for several years the only two banks in town were Bailey's Bank and The First National Bank of Clinton.
    The First National Bank of Clinton was originally chartered as a national bank and opened in January of 1906 as the second national bank in Laurens County.  It had $160,000 in assets when it opened.  It is fair to say the bank was quite successful for many years.  Unfortunately, on January 29th 1931 there was an unprecedented run on the bank and the directors closed the bank at noon.  Only 14 days earlier the bank had reported a satisfactory year with numbers in line with estimates.  However, as is the case with most banks of the day, once confidence is lost, the result can be devastating.  The bank would be taken over by the comptroller of currency the same day as the run, never to open again.  This left The Commercial Bank as the only bank in Clinton.
    The First National Bank issued over 1.5 million dollars worth of national bank notes leading currency from this bank to be quite attainable, usually at a few hundred dollars a note.  This availability is a blessing for someone looking to obtain a note from Laurens County.  The town of Laurens had three banks issue national bank notes; however, a total of one note is known to exist from all three Laurens banks combined.  The only exception to Clinton's notes being common would be 1902 red seals.  As is the case with any red seal from SC, those from Clinton are rare and quite valuable.
    If you have some currency from Clinton, please
tell me about it.  Whether it is for sale or not, I still always like hearing about notes.

(The picture above shows the bank which is still on Broad Street today.  The bank extends to where the black man is drinking a coke outside of a white only barber shop.)

First President:

JS Craig

First Cashier:

JD Bell

Joshua Saxon Craig

06/16/1854 - Laurens, SC
11/22/1926 - Clinton, SC

    Joshua Saxon Craig was the first president of The First National Bank of Clinton.  He would hold that position until 1912 when he moved back to his farm in Laurens and BH Boyd became president of the bank.  JS Craig still held a seat on the board of The First National Bank of Clinton and he kept the title as vice-president even though he was not present for day to day operations.
    In addition to his role with Clinton's sole national bank, Craig was also vice-president of The Palmetto Bank in Laurens as well as The Peoples National Bank of Laurens (a non-currency issuing bank).

John Downs Bell Sr.

01/07/1881 - Laurens, SC
01/18/1959 - Columbia, SC

    John Downs Bell Sr was an organizer and the first cashier of The First National Bank of Clinton.  He would be the cashier there until 1909 when Bell left the bank and BH Boyd became the cashier.  
    In 1920 JD Bell moved to Columbia to become manager of The Federal Intermediate Credit Bank.  He would ultimately make a name for himself in the insurance industry and at the time of his death he was the South Carolina Representative of the Colonial Life and Accident Insurance Company.

Other People Associated with the Bank: BH Boyd, GW Copeland, RZ Wright, GA Copeland, JL Davidson

The picture below is a great image of GW Copeland (under the cashier sign) and BH Boyd (back, inside cage with bow tie) inside the bank.