The bank was purchased on July 27 1904. One and one half lots, known as the Dr. F. A. Cole town lots, were purchased from Milton S. Jones and his wife Ellen. The purchase price was $1,000., by two notes, the initial note being $650.00 and the second note of $350.00. These notes were signed by John W. Wiggs, President, and James E. Smith, Cashier of the Bank. This property was located on the south east corner of the public square in Linden.
Soon after the purchase of the property, in April, 1905 construction began on what would be very imposing brick structure, only the second brick building in the business area. The entrance to the two story building was a corner entrance, facing north west. Two large windows on the west side, with seven window on the north, three on the east and three on the south, creating a large, well-lighted area. A large concrete, decorative pediment, imprinted with the word BANK, crowned the top of the front of the building, along with spire topped finals. Enclosed stairs on the south side led to the upper floor of the bank.
Throughout the years, the upper floor was used for offices for doctors, dentists, optometrist, attorneys, and office for the telephone company, as well as a meeting place for the Masons and Order of the Eastern Star. The interior of the main floor had a ceiling of decorative tin tiles, long counters for the tellers cages and a built-in vault. Two rooms at the back was used for stockholders and directors meetings, as well as record storage.
A low wall of large, hewn limestone rocks formed the boundary of the property on the north and formed the boundary of the property on the north and west, separating it from the street. The building was completed in July, 1906 at a cost of $5,600.
An advertisement of the Perry County Bank appeared in the Linden Mail newspaper in March, 1906 as follows:
HOW PEOPLE LOSE MONEY
By concealing it about their person; by stowing it away in mugs and jars; by sewing it up in skirts and ticks; by tucking it under the couches and carpets, in cupboards and bureau drawers; these are some of the ways by which people lose their money and sometimes THEIR LIVES.
HOW PEOPLE SAVE THEIR MONEY
By deposing it in a good, reliable bank. Confident that this bank fully meets the public’s needs, we tender its services to all who believe in keeping on the safe side.
On July 11, 1915, disaster struck Linden-FIRE! The entire south side of the public square was destroyed. According to an article in the Perry County News, Linden Tennessee, dated July 16, 1915, “The First National Bank was damaged considerable, most of the glass being broken out of the front. Dr. A.J. Barnette, whose office was above the bank, lost a number of instruments, they were thrown out the window by the fire fighters.”
Fire again struck Linden on September 8, 1930, and again, destroyed businesses on the south side of the town. In this fire, the bank escaped any damage, possible due, in part, to the street between the bank and the other businesses.
By 1937, the bank had survived the Great Depression and two close calls in destructive fires. On July 15, 1937 the unthinkable happened-two masked bank robbers enter the bank around opening time. The following account appeared in the Nashville Tennessean, with the story lead-in “2 Masked Bank Robbers Caught with Loot after Linden Holdup”, with the sub-heading “One Bandit Wounded by Officer As He Tries To Swim River”. The news article reported “Linden, Tenn, July 15 (Spl) A sheriff acting quickly on the alarm given by a girl bookkeeper, pursued two bank robbers on foot today, exchanged gunshots with them, recovered their $6,600 loot and later arrested a man and his nephew who he said sighed confessions.
One was wounded by a posse man as he attempted to swim Buffalo River and was fished out by the sheriff.
The masked bandits, Robert Adkins, 27, erstwhile bookkeeper of the First National Bank here and his uncle, Oliver Adkins, 50, were in jail less than two hours after they were surprised in attempting to rob the safe and fled with the loot. The younger robber was treated for gunshot wounds before the pair left here late this afternoon for Jackson in the custody of an F.B.I. Agent and Sheriff Van Dodson who made the capture.
The bandits made ever preparation for a successful robbery except a safe getaway. They failed because of two blunders.
They left the car in which they planned to escape a mile and a half from the scene of the crime, and in fleeing they failed to tie up one of their captives, Miss Inez Edwards, bookkeeper for the bank.
The masked men overpowered Samuel F. Polk, cashier, who walked in on them at their attempted crime, and placed him face down, bound and gagged, in the vault. Percy Pearson, assistant cashier, and Earl Rainey, a customer, who entered the bank shortly afterward, were also bound, after Pearson’s watch had been taken from him. As the men were still waiting the time lock on the safe to be released. Miss Edwards entered carrying $2,800 deposit from the post office. She was placed in the vault, but not bound. The cash she carried was taken.
At 8 a.m., the time-lock was sprung. The bandits scooped up the $2,800 it contained, and departed on foot.
The girl quickly freed the captives and the police were called. Sheriff Van Dodson quickly gathered a posse, aided by Z. (sic) B. Zemer, a passerby who spread the alarm after the fleeing robbers had fired two shots at him in passing. “(Jim Tucker, a local resident, recalls his father, Frank Tucker, was painting the window sills on the east side of the courthouse, just across the street, standing on a tall ladder, saw the bank robbers run from the bank, with C.B. Zemer in pursuit. The robbers fired two shots into the ground, near Zemer. The robbers ran toward the Buffalo river, with a group of men in hot pursuit. Many shots were fired, and Mr. Tucker stated these shots were heard at Chestnut Grove, a community about two miles away.)
The newspaper account continued with more details: “The men were captured after unsuccessfuly attempting to shoot it our with officers. The younger adkins was wounded and taken as he tried to escape swimming Buffalo River under a bridge.
It was discovered the bandits had provided themselves eith duplicate license plates for their car, and had carefully planned the hold up, timing it to the minuite. They were armed with two .38 caliber pistols, a high-powered rifle, and an automatic shotgun, and carried 300 rounds of ammunition, rubber gloves, masks, and adhesive tape.
In speaking of the hold-up, Polk, the cashier who first discovered the robbers, stated: ‘I went to the bank shortly before 8 o’clock to get some papers to take to the printers. The first thing I knew two men wearing masks and rubber gloves came forward. One jerked out a pistol. He said: ‘It’s a stickup.’ They knew they had to wait until the time lock would allow the vault to be opened at 8 o’clock. They tied me up with some light cotton rope and made me lie down in the vault. Then they tied up Pearson and Rainey… When they tied me up I was praying that Miss Edwards would come in late because I knew she’d have the post office money, by now I’m glad she was on time.’
Miss Edwards said afterward she was ‘terribly frightened’ … hold up. ‘I came in from the post office and met these two men at the door. Both of them were masked, so I couldn’t scream. They took the money I had,” she stated. They pulled me back into the room and pushed me into the vault. It happened so fast I couldn’t think what was happening. I saw three men there and as soon as they left I started untying them. I took more than a few seconds for each one. I untied Mr. Polk first then Mr. Pearson.
It was awfully hot in there-the vault in only eight by ten feet, but I guess I wasn’t in there more than five minutes altogether.
Then we tried to call the sheriff, but our line was dead so we got Collins Zemer, bookkeeper at the Condor and Graham place to call.’
Robert Adkins worked in the bank about ten years ago, Sheriff Dodson stated. Later he attended Milligan College, in East Tennessee, on a loan from the bank, Dodson said. He has since lived in Wythville, Va. His uncle lives in Grayson, Ky. They were quoted as saying they decided to rob the bank because they were’down and out’. They are charged with bank robbery and attempted murder.”
Another Nashville newspaper, The Banner, also reported the robbery with the following heading and subheadings: “LINDEN SHERIFF TAKES ROBBERS IN GUN BATTLE – Masked pair leaves Lady Free to Warn Officers – ONE IS WOUNDED” “Linden, Tenn. –(Spl)—Two careless masked bandits, who made every preparation for a successful bank robbery except for the provision for a safe getaway were lodged in Perry County jail here today, one nursing shotgun wounds, both captured by Sheriff Van Dodson single-handed in a gun battle less than an hour after the robbery.
All of the loot they took from the First National Bank, $6,600, was recovered.
The two robber, Robert Adkins, 30, former employee of the bank, and his uncle, Oliver Adkins, about 50, made the error of leaving the automobile in which they hoped to make their escape a mile and a half away, then leaving one of their four prisoners united in the bank.
Their chivalry in failing to tie Miss Inez Edwards, bank employee, from whom they grabbed $2,800 as she walked in the bank, led to the immediate release of three victims in the bank vault, and notification to the sheriff.
The bandits rushed from the bank afoot, and Sheriff Dodson was on their trail immediately.
They were overtaken a half-hour after they walked away from the bank, by the sheriff, who shot it out with them on a river bank and took them prisoners. Robert Adkins, struck by two chargers from the sheriff’s shotgun, was wounded, but not seriously. The bandits fired on Sheriff Dodson eleven times, but he was not hit.
The pair, both masked, were surprised in the bank sometime before 8 a.m. by Samuel F. Polk, cashier, when he entered early for a bank statement he wished to insert for publication in the local newspaper. He was overpowered, bound, gagged and laid face down in the vault. A few minutes later, Percy Pearson, assistant cashier, and Earl Rainey, a customer came in. They were also overpowered and tied.
Waited On Time-Lock
The two bandits’ appropriated Pearson’s watch and waited until 8 a.m., when the time-lock on the safe would be released, allowing it to open. When the hour arrived the safe was opened and the pair took out $3,800 in cash.
As they were walking out of the bank, Miss Inez Edwards, its bookkeeper and stenographer, came in. She was carrying $2,800 deposit from the Linden post office. The men took this, pushed Miss Edwards into the vault without tying her.
The robbers then walked out of the bank and strode in a southeasterly direction.
As soon as they left, Miss Edwards released the three men and they notified the sheriff.
‘When they tied the three of us up, ‘Polk said, ‘I was praying that Miss Edwards would come in late because I knew she’d have the post office money. I’m glad now she was on time.’
Polk said that after the robbery when he saw the bandits faces, he remembered and reconized the younger Adkinsas a former resident of Linden, soc of a Christian church minister and employe of the bank for a few weeks ten or twelve years ago.
The two claimed they came here form Kentucky.
Sheriff Dodson was investigating the case today, on the possibility the uncle and nephew may have had an accomplice who was supposed to have met them with their automobile and assisted in making an escape.
The two robbers were armed with two .38 caliber pistols, a high –powered rifle and an automatic shotgun, Sheriff Dodson said. “Thus ended the attempted robbery, with no casualties, and no money taken.
In 1952, the Board of Directors of the First National Bank consisted of J. D. Pope, President; Ralph Patterson, C.N. Warren, R.H. Godwin, Sr., and John L. Webb.
Bank employees were R.H. Godwin, Jr,. Cashier, C.B. Zemer, assistant cashier;Bobie Jane Tatum Steele, bookkeeper and Georgia B. Smith, bookkeeper.
Some of the persons serving as Bank President from the institution of the bank included: Daniel Starbuck, William J. Richardson, J.W. Wiggs and George W. Pearson. Jesse D. Pope started working in the bank in 1913 as assistant cashier, continued there until 1923, during which time he purchased stock in the bank. He served on the Board of Directors and in 1935, was elected President and served in that position until his death in 1984. R.H. (Holly) Godwin, Jr. was elected President and served until 1999.
On April 11, 1956, the State of Tennessee issued a Charter of Incorporation to First State Bank, signed by C. Edward Friar, Secretary of State. This was pursuant to an application to the State to organize a Bank Charter titled First State Bank, Linden Tennessee to succeed Frist National Bank, as requested by directors J.D. Pope, C.N. Warren, John L. Webb, R.H. Godwin, Sr., Irvine Shelton and R.H. Godwin, Jr.
The Directors soon realized the need for a larger more modern facility and on September 25, 1962 purchased a town lot from Ruth Godwin, the deed being signed by J.D. Pope, et al Directors of The First State Bank, Linden, Tennessee. This property was the site of the old West Side Hotel, which later became a private residence. Construction of the new bank building was completed in 1963. After a few years, it was evident that still more space was needed, and this was done. Following expansion and renovation, Open House was held on October 24, 1976, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the bank.
First State Bank was purchased from the stockholder by James W. Ayers, in 1999, nad became First Bank.
Excerpted from The Perry County Quarterly
In 2008 Michael & Kathy Dumont purchased with building which had fallen into disrepair, The second floor now houses the “Bank loft Unit” a 2 room suite. The first floor until recently was utilized as Vision Perry, a non-profit founded by Michael as a Summer Youth arts program responsible for the murals and other public art located throughout the downtown’s in Linden and Lobelville. It is currently under renovation and will soon open as or premier “Historical Bank Unit”