The Brinson Railroad brought growth in the town of Springfield and Mr. Brinson’s businesses including a saw mill gave rise to the need for a bank. The Exchange Bank of Springfield was organized in 1907 by local stockholders C. F. Berry, Willie R. Fetzer, C. F. Gnann, J. Martin Gnann, Allen B. Kieffer, John W. Reiser and Ralph E. Shearouse.
The new two-story brick building, on the south corner of First and Laurel streets, opened January 1, 1908. The first floor housed the bank and a large directors room. The upper floor consisted of four well-ventilated rooms used as offices including the Masonic Lodge and offices of dentist Dr. A. D. Gnann.
Capt. Candler F. Berry was president of the bank. Berry had served as clerk of Superior Court for 10 years and was captain of the Effingham Hussars. J.M. Gnann was a local businessman and the Effingham County Treasurer for 14 years. W.H. McCartney, a newcomer of Virginia, was named cashier. (He built the house known as Argyle on Ash Street from a previous story in Echoes.)
Several years later, Chris Reiser and W.J. Hinely were hired as cashiers. Hinely was sent to Sardis to operate a branch bank office. The bank encountered hard times and closed in 1920.
In 1921, J. M. “Mac” Marchman came as liquidating agent and he issued stock certificates. According to the The Springfield Herald issue April 25, 1969, Marchman had worked for three years in the Bank of White Plains, his home town in Greene County.
Despite troubled economic times, the bank reopened in 1921 with Marchman aet the helm. He had been preceded as president by B.L. Rahn, J.W. Tebeau, B.K. Shearouse, J.W. Reiser and H.W. McCartney.
Marchman was hired as cashier and operated the bank practically single-handed as president until Emory Shearouse joined him as cashier in 1932. The 1932 directors of the bank were O.A. Rahn, J. W. Tebeau, C. B. Gnann, Ralph Shearouse and Barton Shearouse.
Sometime after 1932, the bank employees found, upon their arrival for work one morning, that the bank safe had been forced open, possibly with a torch, during the night and contents were missing. Some six months or so later, some negotiable bonds that were missing from the incident had shown up in Dayton, Ohio, when someone tried to cash them, according to Harry Shearouse, son of Emory Shearouse. “Mac” Marchman’s daughter Mary Will Long recalls that her father had to take a train to Dayton to identify the bonds.
Officers of the bank in 1962 were B. L. Rahn, president; J. M. Marchman, executive vice president; E. A. Shearouse, cashier; and Bowman Hinely, assistant cashier (joined staff in 1946). The first woman to ever work in the bank was Eva Belle (Burns) Pevey, who joined the bank in 1952.
The original building was torn down in 1963 when a larger bank was built in the same location. The old bank sat where there is now a parking lot on the corner. (The second bank building was later occupied by Lona’s Jewelers. After Lona’s closed, Dr. Donald Nelson purchased the building for a dental office and it is now occupied by his sons.)
The Exchange Bank became a branch bank of the Citizens and Southern National Bank in 1968 with Cliff Turner as President. In 1970, Charles Hartzog became president and J. M. Marchman retired with 50 years of service in banking. Bowman Hinely retired at this time.
A Rincon branch office was opened in October 1971. Emory Shearouse retired in 1972. The name was changed to C&S Bank of Effingham in 1974. The new $680,000, three-story bank structure at the corner of Second and Laurel streets was completed in 1978. Bank directors were D. Guerry Burns, Charles Hartzog, Callie W. Kessler, J. M. Marchman, William F. Rahn, Emory A. Shearouse, J. Terrell Webb, C. Murray Kight, Lawton M. Nease Jr., and George G. Allen.
Officers were Charles E. Hartzog, president; Harry H. Shearouse and Robert F. Free, assistant vice presidents; and Wendell Sikes, Jerry G. Freyermuth and Eva Belle Pevey as assistant banking officers. The bank employed 37 people at one time.
C&S Bank merged with Citizens and Southern Georgia Corporation in 1983. Bank of America purchased the bank and closed the Springfield location, leaving only the Rincon branch operating in the county.
From humble beginnings, the assets of the Exchange Bank in 1908 of $77,778.60 grew to $20,100,000 by 1975.
Next week the story of “Mac” Marchman will follow.
This was compiled by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society from old issues of The Springfield Herald and photos of Mary Will Long. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.