In the early 1860s there were two banks in Dalton and two other banks that were trying to join them in doing business here.
The Cherokee Insurance and Banking Company was incorporated by the General Assembly of Georgia on Feb. 8,1850, and by 1861 had been around for 11 years. Its board of commissioners included William Hammonds, Harrison Rogers, Augustus Seaborn, Jones, Duff Green, Gustavus Heerlein, T.N. Cate, Henry Jargen, J.A.W. Johnson and Benjamin Loughridge.
It was further enacted that the capital stock should consist of 5,000 shares of $150 each and it could commence business in Dalton when 25 percent of the capital stock shall have been paid in specie. The bank opened at No. 15 Crawford St. in a new brick banking house.
In 1860 Mr. D.P. Wright, a local wheelwright, built a new door for the bank and in April of 1862 the bank was issuing $1, $2 and $5 bills as well as 50-cent and 70-cent fractional bills. Col. James H. Bard was president and W.L.M. Wright was cashier. The Cherokee Insurance and Banking Co. survived the Civil War but folded during the tough years following Reconstruction and by 1873 was being referred to as the former Cherokee Insurance and Banking Co.
On Dec. 13,1859, the Planters and Mechanics Bank of Dalton that had been in business since February of 1854 reorganized and changed its name to the Bank of Whitfield and was the other banking house in Dalton during the Civil War. Between 1860 and 1862 the bank issued $1, $2 and $5bills as well as 25-cent, 50-cent and 75-cent fractional bills for circulation. Between 1860 and 1862 the presidents who served the bank were James Morris, Larkin Fullilove and Merritt Burnes. The cashiers who served were Merritt Russell, George Wentworth and Thomas B. White.
In April of 1861 Georgia Gov. Joseph Brown asked for the Bank of Whitfield to assume a portion of the state loan to support the war effort but president Larkin Fullilove declined, citing a heavy debt load. He further stated that he had offered in the market some of the best papers that could be made without being able to profit on it unless at unusually heavy rates. However on June 2,1862, the bank moved from No. 3 Crawford St. to Capt. James Morris’ new brick banking house on Hotel Square, Hamilton Street.
Meanwhile, banking in the North was facing a crisis as a result of a gold shortage. A bill was drafted making paper currency, payable by the U.S. Treasury but unbacked by gold or silver, legal tender for all debts public and private with a few exceptions. President Lincoln signed the “Legal Tender Act” into law in February of 1862 and “Greenbacks” became the currency of the North.
On Dec. 1,1863, after hearing the sounds of battle to the north, the Bank of Whitfield moved its operation further south to Atlanta. The best records indicate it was eventually merged into the Lowery National Bank of Atlanta with Atlanta financier Robert F. Lowery as president. There are no records reflecting that it ever returned to Dalton.
Another bank that organized during the Civil War received its charter on Dec. 5,1862, and was known as the Planters Insurance, Trust and Loan Company with an office in Dalton and Gen. Duff Green officiating as president. Its board of commissioners included William Manghus, Augustus Seaborn Jones, William V. Johnson and John T. Jones. On March 2,1863, 10-cent and 50-cent fractional bills were issued and signed by Ben Green, son of Gen.Duff Green. Green’s chief aim was to attract investors from England, France and other European countries to enable the company to expand in the railroad systems through out the South. As late as April of 1864, efforts were still going forward but Green’s efforts to attract European capital to his cause never materialized. There are no records that the Planters Insurance, Trust and Loan Co. ever opened for business.
Another bank believed to have tried to organize in Dalton or Spring Place was the Saving Bank of Cohutah. The name is pronounced the same as the present day spelling of the name, Cohutta. Two-dollar bills and 75-cent fractional bills were printed bearing the date Jan. 1,1863, but were unsigned. No other records about the operations of the Saving Bank of Cohutah have been found to date.
There was talk of a bank revival in the Nov. 25,1869, issue of North Georgia Citizen but the next bank of any consequence to open in Dalton was in 1873. Frank Hardwick, John Hardwick and their father opened a new bank under the name of C.L. Hardwick and Company. It opened in the old National Hotel building on Hamilton Street with a capital stock of $15,000 and later became known as the Hardwick Bank and Trust Co., now the BB&T Bank.
Today Dalton is served by several banks and all are strong financial institutions serving the area well.
This article is part of a series of stories about Dalton and life in Dalton during the Civil War. The stories will run on Sunday and are provided by the Dalton-Whitfield Civil War 150th Anniversary Committee. To find out more about the committee go to www.dalton150th.com. If you have material that you would like to contribute for a future article please contact Robert Jenkins at 706-259-4626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.