The Bank of Ashpole was founded by a group of local businessmen in February, 1904. Lawyer R. C. Lawrence of Lumberton handled the process of securing the charter from the State of North Carolina and on June 20, 1904, the bank opened its doors for business, just in time for tobacco season.
The following were elected officers at the organizational meeting: A. S. Thompson, President; J. P. Brown, Vice President; F. L. Blue, cashier; and A. J. Floyd, R. O. Pitman, O. I. Floyd, A. N. Mitchell, Directors. Frank L. Blue as cashier was the bank's chief operating officer and as mayor was instrumental in changing Ashpole's name to Fairmont. The bank changed its name to the Bank of Fairmont at the same time.
Frank L. Blue, Cashier, The Bank of Ashpole; photo credit: The Fairmont Messenger, Aug. 13, 1914
From the August 13, 1914 edition of The Fairmont Messenger, it was noted that in the 10 years that the bank had operated it had made 2,264 loans totaling $1,007,782.95 and was worth more than twice the paid in capital of $21,000. It had financed projects large and small, including many of the brick stores on Main Street and the 1912 construction of the brick First Baptist Church. Additionally, it cashed checks for the tobacco sold in town.
Photo credit: Paul Thompson, Jr., used with permission
The bank was the victim of an embezzlement of about $15,000 in 1922 by assistant cashier H. L. Blue that caused it to be placed into receivership. Blue pled guilty and judgement was deferred pending reimbursement of the money stolen, reimbursement of audit costs and payment of lawyer fees. The money was eventually recovered.
President Franklin Roosevelt declared a banking holiday immediately after his inauguration on March 4, 1933. All of the banks were required to submit to tests by the Federal Reserve to determine their financial stability. The Bank of Fairmont did not meet the minimum requirements and was therefore not allowed to reopen and was placed into receivership in August, 1933, leaving the community without a bank.