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History of
The Beckham National Bank
The First National Bank in Graham
Graham, Texas 76450
May 1990

Early in the 1880's, only a few years after buffalo hunts and Comanche Indian raids, Young County, Texas was sparsely settled, as were all the Western frontier counties in Texas. This substantial little community of Graham had a bare 500 population.

It was at this time, when Graham was enjoying its first economic boom, that William Casburn Beckham, a native of Lanchester County, South Carolina, relocated his wife and six children to this area. Beckham was born in 1825 and lived in Natchez Parish, Louisiana where he met and married Frances Pickett.

They lived in Florida where he was a well-to-do merchant until he moved to Graham, Texas with his family and opened a store with $7,000 worth of general merchandise. According to Carrie J. Crouch in her book, A History of Young County, Texas, this represented a significant business in a town so new and small. His commitment was realized under the name of Beckham and Son which opened on the north side of the town square. Hardware, dry goods, saddles, harnesses, groceries and even caskets comprised his inventory!

As he continued in business, he fell into the habit of lending money on short term to his customers, and after few years, he operated what was to become known as the first bank in Graham, Texas, out of the back of his general mercantile store.

Early in 1890, Graham was continuing to prosper. Evidence in the Deed Records of Young County, Volume 20, page 144 reflects that in January, 1890, property located at Lot 8, Block 1 was purchased by Mr. Beckham in the Original Townsite of Graham for the purpose of building a large, two story brick building. Application for a charter for his banking business was a result of the substantial commercial growth being experienced in Graham. The local economy was prospering and a number of other communities in the area were also chartering financial institutions.

On August 4, 1890, an organizational meeting was held in the office of Beckham and Son, at which time the following stockholders were elected Bank Directors: William P. Beckham, Silas R. Jeffery, Josehp B. Norris, John E. Morrison, Edmund B. Norman, William S. McJimsey, and Robert F. Arnold. The directors took the oath of office as required by law and were duly declared the legally authorized directors of the bank. Beckham bank was the first bank in Young County.

This distinguished group of men represented a varied cross-section of the community. Silas R. Jeffery, a native of England, was a prominent cattleman and owner of the Jeffery Ranch near Olney. Edmund B. Norman was later the Young County and District Clerk in addition to serving as President of the bank between the years of 1895 and 1904. Robert Frederick Arnold also served as President of the bank between 1893 and 1895, but is noted as a pioneer lawyer, a judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals, district and county judge, as well as an oil enthusiast and early organizer of the First Baptist Church.

At the first meeting of the official Board of Directors of the newly charters Beckham National Bank, W.P. Beckham (son of W.C. Beckham) was elected President of the bank. R.F. Arnold was elected First Vice President, S.R. Jeffery, Second Vice President; E.B. Norman, Cashier, and John M. Norman, Assistant Cashier and Bookkeeper. It was ordered by the Board that the President, Cashier and Assistant Cashier were the only persons connected with this bank who would receive any salary. The charter for the Beckham National Bank was granted by the US Treasury Department, signed by E.S. Sacey, Comptroller of the Currency, on September 19, 1890.

The original stockholders and officers of the Beckham National Bank were men of vision who believed in the future growth and prosperity of the bank and the community. Many pioneers were coming into the town and the surrounding area, and although there were many discouragements, few of these sturdy newcomers left in despair. Handling the difficult financial situations of these pioneers called for courage, sound judgment and honesty on the part of the bank.

The newly elected Directors began to shape the direction of the Beckham National Bank by authorizing the purchase of the bank building from W.C. Beckham and Son in December, 1890, as reflected in the Deed Records of Young County, Volume 21, page 71. Also included in this transaction were the furniture and fixtures at a cost of $10,853. The bank continued to operate in this location for the next 82 years.

Slowly, changes came about as Beckham National Bank continued on her destiny. According to the official Book of Minutes, W.P. Beckham resigned his position as President early in 1891. It appears that his father continued to serve in this capacity until January, 1893 and W.P. Beckham eventually resigned from the board and migrated to California. W.C. Beckham died in 1895 at the age of 70.

On March 9, 1895, The Beckham National Bank formed a merger with another institution, The First National Bank, which had also been organized in the early 1890's. The assets of this bank were absorbed by the Beckham Bank, and the official book of Minutes reflects that the number of board members were increased from seven to nine to accommodate this merger. The bank retained the name Beckham National Bank until January 19, 1921, when the name was officially changed to The First National Bank in Graham as evidenced by a resolution issued by the US Department of the Treasury, and signed by Deputy Comptroller of the Currency, T.P. Kane.

At the annual stockholders meeting in January, 1923, E.S. Graham was elected President of the bank, Graham Stewart, Vice President and Cashier, S. Boyd Street and P.K. Deats, Vice Presidents, and Claude C. Bloodworth Assistant Cashier. It is significant that many of these early officers later had descendants assume similar positions in the bank and on the board.

In August, 1969, The First National Bank purchased property on the southeast corner of the square from the Rex Cornish family and the Fore Brothers. George Henry Fore represented his brother, Jesse Bell Fore[great-grandsons of W.C. Beckham], and himself in the transaction, and Mrs. W.L. Scott, Jr. executed the transaction on behalf of her mother, Mrs. Rex Cornish. This property, described as Lots 1-6, Block 5 of the Original Townsite, was transferred to the First National Bank, and recorded in the Young County Deed Records, Volume 448, pages 62, 80, and 445.

Operation continued in the original location on the north side of the town square until April, 1972 when construction of a new facility was completed. Chairman of the Board Beverly King, Jr. reported that this was the first change in location since the bank began in 1890. During the building dedication he paid tribute to deceased officers and directors of the banking institution and noted that many of their sons were carrying on as directors of the bank. In a unique ceremony, a "ribbon" made of twenty $100 bills was stretched in front of the new building, and the youngest stockholder as well as the senior stockholder were recognized as the bank began its 83rd years of existence.

Phenomenal deposit base growth for The First National Bank over these 100 years can be traced to management foresight of community needs. Comparison of bank deposits from a total of $39,857 in 1890, to deposits in 1990 totaling $91,510,913 exemplifies the vision of the first Board of Directors.

Further improvements of the facilities included completion of a six-lane modern motor bank in 1979, and a new four-story addition in 1983. This aggressive building plan has proven First National Bank's desire to successfully compete in the market it was created to serve. The Board of Directors currently consists of eleven members, while the bank employs 46 men and women on a full-time basis.

Much of the progress of the formative days of Graham is attributed to William Casburn Beckham, and certainly the formation of what is known today at The First National Bank in Graham, can be attributed to Mr. Beckham and his son, William Pickett Beckham. Through the years directors have retired, and sons and grandsons of many prominent pioneer families have assumed positions as directors, yet their original purpose of community service and prosperity survives in the spirit of the employees, officers and directors of the bank.

It is altogether fitting that an institution with such a rich history of stability and contribution to the development of the community to be recognized with an official designation by the Texas Historical Commission. The legacy of the next one hundred years began as a dream "Sharing the American Dream".


Beckham National Bank
August 1890 - February 1891: - William Pickett Beckham
February 1891 - December 1892: - William Casburn Beckham
January 1893 - March 1895: - Robert Frederick Arnold
March 1895 - April 1904: - Edmund Brook Norman
April 1904 - December 1916: - Silas R. Crawford
January 1917 - - R.E. Lynch

First National Bank in Graham
- December 1922 - R.E. Lynch
January 1923 - December 1926 - Edwin S. Graham
January 1927 - December 1947 - Graham P. Stewart
January 1948 - December 1964 - Stanley H. Peavy
January 1965 - December 1971 - James G. Staples
January 1972 - June 1974 - Tom Nicklas
August 1974 - August 1985 - Byron L. Calcote
October 1985 - April 1989 - Patrick K. Morton
June 1989 - - David A. Collier

Chairmen of the Board
August 4, 1890 - Joseph B. Norris

[No evidence of a Chairman of the Board]

January 9, 1923 - R.E. Lynch
January 12, 1965 - Stanley H. Peavy, Sr.
January 12, 1968 - Beverly W. King, Jr.
August 14, 1984 - Stanley H. Peavy, Jr.
October 3, 1985 - David A. Collier

Prepared for Submission
The Texas Historical Commission
State Marker Program

Used by permission by the First National Bank in Graham, all rights reserved

Friday, October 15, 2010

© 2009

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