Stories of the South - Bank of Brooksville
Small towns all over Mississippi, the South, and all over the United States are fading away in shocking numbers. Just in my local area I’ve seen thriving little towns in Mississippi all but dry up and blow away with the times. I know that things are different and you can drive longer distances much more easily than ever before so you’re not limited by mileage where you can buy groceries, bank, or even send you children to school. Along with many factors the little towns we all grew up with are going away. Times change and we must change with them, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
I’m a country girl who likes small towns. There. I’m completely unapologetic about not liking big cities. I think you’ll agree that’s never been a question on this blog. They’re loud, congested, scary, and big in a way that intimidates me. I’ll admit I like a trip to Jackson just as good as the next person - the Mississippi Museum of Art is beautiful - but I don’t want to live there and I don’t want to work there. I had the opportunity right out of college and turned it down.
Brooksville, Mississippi is one such small town in Noxubee County that I’m afraid we’re losing piece by piece. It’s hard to keep a business open in a good economic environment and Brooksville is definitely not the most inviting place to cultivate a business these days. There are the little gems still to be found there, Tem’s Grocery Store for one, Magnolia Market for another, and or course the Ole Country Bakery. But where Brooksville used to have a little movie theater, a hardware store, a bank, and various other little businesses - all this is gone. The beautiful churches remain, the beautiful people as well, but soon without any intervention it will be like so many other places across the south. A little hamlet with a couple of gas stations, a post office, and not much else.
One of the biggest blows to this thriving community was the loss of their bank. The Bank of Brooksville was established in 1899 with a capital of $30,000. That would be about $825,000 in today’s money. In 1899 Brooksville had telegraph, telephone, and express offices, a steam grist mill, 2 fine cotton gins, and a brick manufacturing plant. There was a school, several churches, and a weekly newspaper called The Brooksville voice. All of this with a population of 612. By 1906 the population had expanded to an estimated 1000. Hard to believe a place as vibrant and bustling as this in only 116 years is left with only probably half the population and even fewer businesses.
August 1, 1968 the Bank of Brooksville began operating as National Bank of Commerce, later to be called Cadence Bank. The bank operated under this ownership until April 26, 2013 when the decision was made to close the bank due to "changing demographics and banking regulations." So for the first time in 114 years the citizens of Brooksville have to go elsewhere to bank. If you decided to keep your account with Cadence the next closest Cadence bank is thirty minutes away in West Point, Mississippi a one way trip of 28 miles. According to an article from WCBI.com in 2013 city officials said they would try to find another bank to serve the city but as of 2015 no new bank has opened a branch. Macon is only 7 or so miles away but they do not have a Cadence branch. For those that have lived in Brooksville their entire lives and have always used that one bank it was a hard loss. I know in today’s society we’ll swap banks like we swap shirts and never think a thing about it, but that’s not how things used to be done. A banker was a local person with whom you built a relationship. A phone call was all that was needed to buy a brand new tractor or a piece of equipment. Those days are now long gone.
But just like all those little towns all over Mississippi and the south, the citizens of Brooksville have definitely not given up or will give up any time soon and definitely not with a fight. They are fiercely proud of their town and everyone still helps their neighbors when needed.
If you have any info on the Bank of Brooksville or just a fond memory please leave it in the comments below. I’ll admit I’ve had these pictures forever but trying to research any history on the Bank of Brooksville has been thoroughly frustrating.
Have a great weekend my lovelies!