Stories of the South - Mantee, MS Part II Bank of Mantee

The Bank of Mantee was chartered March 20, 1907 with $25,000 capital and A.M. Harley as president, J.E. Logan as vice president, and Henry George as cashier. The board of directors were: Dr. W.T. George, J.E. Logan, J.F. Mitchell, J.W. Coleman, N.B. Crawford, J.H. Salmon, and A.M. Harley. The cost of the original brick bank building was $3,500. It had a plate glass window, fireproof vault, and opened for business September 1, 1907. It was a privately chartered bank until sold in 1999 to OmniBank headquartered in Bay Springs, MS.  Recently in 2012 it was sold again to Bank of Okolona and the name changed back to Bank of Mantee.  

One of the most interesting tidbits of history to me is that the Bank of Mantee was one of the few banks in the area that did not closed during the Great Depression.  Mr. L.L. George who was the bank President at the time called the customers together and somehow, someway convinced them that if they would all stick together the bank could make it.  The bank would survive and they would not lose everything if they would just allow their deposits to remain with the bank and convince them he did. Because of this Bank of Mantee has always had a loyal following in the community including my family.

So why is this so significant?  Following the stock market crash of 1929 customers began to withdraw their money by the millions from banks.  To me, and this is just my opinion, Southerners were more especially wary of banks after the Civil War than most.  ( I know my great-grandparents were.)  Families had lost everything when the Confederacy went belly up and their money with it.  Many people at this time had heard those stories first hand from their parents and grandparents and not having a whole lot of trust in the government in general decided that cash in hand was better than a deposit ticket.  The only problem with this is that if a bank cannot retain its deposits aka it’s money it cannot operate, it has to close, and everyone loses.  By 1933 11,000 of the nation’s 25,000 banks had collapsed and closed.  Imagine today if half the banks in your town closed.  In 1933 alone depositors lost over $140 billion dollars!  It took President Franklin D. Roosevelt declaring a three day National Bank Holiday to prevent customers from withdrawing funds and give everyone a “cooling off period.”  The FDIC was created in that same year, 1933, to insure deposits in the event a bank closed or failed.  Before if a bank closed you lost your money, period, the end.  Again this is what happened several times during Reconstruction - any wonder people were in such a rush to get their money while they could?  This run on banks caused several other banking laws to be passed between 1933 and 1935 to regulate and stabilize the banking industry for the sake of consumers and the banks.      

Kinda neat though that a little bank out in the country was able to prosper and continue when the big boys in Chicago, Memphis, and Atlanta went out of business.  I find that fascinating.  Sometimes it really is the little guys that defy the odds

Daily Bulletin of the Manufactures Record Volumes 17-18 January 1907-December 1908
Bank of Okolona to acquire OmniBank Daily Journal Tupelo, MS 
History of Mantee, MS by
Biennial Report of the Secretary of State to the Legislature of Mississippi October 1, 1909 - July 1, 1911
Facts About Banks During the Great Depression


  1. Reminds me of "It's A Wonderful Life" when he is trying to convince the customers not to pull out their money! One summer afternoon while drinking Coca-Colas I remember my great-aunt telling me about the day the banks closed and she and her husband only had $14 in cash to their name. I was too small to understand what she was referring to, but I do now. I'm glad they changed the name back, so much more personal than one of the big names!

    1. I grew up on Great Depression stories. My great grandmother and grandfather got married and actually purchased their 80 acre farm at the height of the Depression. We would shell peas and shuck corn during the summer and I would ask questions till she told me to hush. It's amazing what they did with so little.

    2. It really shaped people's habits. My grandmother saved "tin foil" and string. Right now, my father has hundreds of balls of string wound on sticks or cardboard tubes in the drawers of his shop. I have no idea what he ever thought he would do with it (unless there was a sudden resumption of kite flying) but it's still there.

  2. He probably kept it out of habit because string and sewing thread were so expensive. I know you've heard the stories of people taking cotton sacks apart and keeping the thread to use in quilts and sewing clothes.


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