BB&T Durham NC University DR
4011 UNIVERSITY DR,
DURHAM, NC 27707-2549
In the aftermath of the Civil War, Eastern North Carolina lay tattered, battered and torn … an easy mark for profiteers and politicians bent on destroying what little remained. There was no money, no law and precious little trust or faith in the once-proud institutions of the South.
Alpheus Branch, the son of a wealthy planter in Halifax County, first came to Wilson to attend Deems Military Academy. After the war, he married Nannie Barnes, the daughter of Gen. Joshua Barnes, one of Wilson’s founders.
Branch established a small mercantile business called Branch and Company. Through his business and community involvement, he came to know Thomas Jefferson Hadley, a Wilson county native who was trying to organize the first system of public schools. They joined forces in 1872 to create a banking institution people could believe in, Branch and Hadley.
As private bankers, Branch and Hadley accepted time deposits, paid interest and loaned money to help rebuild the farms and small businesses in the community. With a place to borrow money at reasonable interest to buy seed and fertilizer, area farmers planted their fields in cotton and in the early 1880s, experimented with a new money crop, tobacco.
In 1887, Branch bought Hadley’s interest in the bank for $81,000 and changed its name to Branch and Company, Bankers.
In 1889, Branch, his father-in-law Gen. Barnes, Hadley, J.F. Bruton, R.L. Thompson and Walter Brodie secured a charter from the North Carolina Legislature to operate the Wilson Banking and Trust Company (later amended to the State Bank of Wilson and later to The Branch Banking Company). However, the charter was not implemented until 1900.
Alpheus Branch died Jan. 3, 1893. The bank continued to grow in the years that followed. In 1900, Branch and Company, Bankers, was sold to Branch Banking and Company, holder of the state charter. On Dec. 20, 1902, the bank opened a savings department, paying four percent interest compounded quarterly.