Maplesville bank celebrates 100th

Published 2:07 pm Monday, September 16, 2019

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Maplesville Guardian Credit Union hosted a 100th year celebration commemorating the years a financial institution has been on the site on Sept. 13.

Although the building has changed hands several times and had a series of names, the importance to the community has remained.

The Bank of Maplesville was established on Sept. 19, 1919 and later became Peach Tree Bank, then SouthCrest.

In 2017, Guardian Credit Union bought the branch bank.

The Sept. 13 celebration featured cake and the opportunity to write a note for a time capsule that will be placed in the bank vault. When the time capsule will be opened has yet to be determined.

Rachel Stewart with marketing for Guardian Credit Union said employees at the Maplesville location brought the upcoming anniversary to the company’s attention.

“We knew right away that it meant something to them,” Stewart said.

Stewart said the employees and community members were excited about the opportunity to see pictures from the history of the location.

Several former bank employees reminisced about their time working at the bank.

Hilda Atchison worked for the Bank of Maplesville and Peach Tree Bank for 35 years.

When Atchison was first looking for a job “no one retired from this bank, they had already been here for 15 years and 17-20 years,” she said.

However, when someone finally did Atchison said she “talked to Mr. Clapp because my husband had been laid off, and we needed to get a job.”

Atchison said she retired as the head bookkeeper.

The first drive-thru for the bank was added in 1961.

In 1989, Harvey Clapp, Clem Clapp, Atchison and Wanda Lockhart traveled to Nebraska for a week of training on the computer system that the bank was going to be using. Atchison said this was a major change for the bank.

Lockhart worked at the bank for 38 years. She was vice president when she retired.

Working at the bank was only the second job she ever had, Lockhart said.

Maplesville Town Clerk Dawn Smitherman was also an employee of the bank at one time.

She said she applied after she graduated from high school. Smitherman worked at the bank from 1985-1997.

“Back then, if people went to work at the bank, they stayed at the bank,” Smitherman said.

Smitherman said she started as a proof operator, then moved up to bookkeeper and using the computer.

A proof operator processed all of the checks and manually input the information.

A history book, photos, some old ledgers and a few other mementos were on display during the event.

A hat on display commemorated the story of the robber who had planned to dynamite the safe when it was the Bank of Maplesville.

“Supposedly, when he … went over the fence his hat popped off, and that’s all they got, they never found out who it was,” Wayne Arnold said. “He wasn’t too bright to make that kind of noise in a little town in the middle of the night.”

Long-time customers also participated in the Sept. 13 festivities.

“My family has done business with this bank for years,” Wayne Arnold said. “We have been here through Bank of Maplesville, through Peach Tree.”

Arnold displayed a keychain given out at the 50th anniversary in 1969 of the bank.

“Each of them have an individual number on the back, the bank would write your name down and the number,” Arnold said. “This went on your keyring, so if you lost your keys somewhere, everybody knew what to do — to take it back to the bank.”

The bank would then contact the owner.

Although he was not at the event when the mementos were given out, Arnold now has two. He said one of the keychains he had once belonged to the Huff family.

“During the history, this bank was the only bank for Maplesville and surrounding communities,” Queen Agee Morrow said. “We could come here and get money and never think about going anywhere else, especially when the Clapps owned the bank. They were friends to everybody.”

She said her first experience with the bank was in the ’70s.

“My husband and I, our first bank loan ever was from here from Mr. Ed Clapp,” Morrow said. “They cared about the people in the community. They really cared. It was evident back during that time when there could have been a lot of racism and prejudice but we didn’t see that here (or) experience that here.”

Morrow has continued as a customer, now as a “Guardian member for life,” she said.