Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Milton State Bank Building

(click photograph for larger image)

Milton was the home of Caswell County’s first bank, with a branch of the State Bank of North Carolina established there in 1818. The building in this photograph was erected in 1859 to house the Milton branch of a successor institution with a similar name, the Bank of North Carolina. The structure, now a private residence, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The First State Bank has always been an imposing building, and for virtually all of my life it was a family home. Early on, before my time it was the home of the diverse and prominent Fleming family. The first family I remember there was Sol Angle and daughter, Eva Margaret. Sol's life ended when his little daughter was three years old. I must have been about seven. I loved that house with its huge rooms and high ceilings. The Ed Walker family lived there next. Lillian, the daughter, must have been a teenager when they came. I remember her most in those early years as an invalid from rheumatoid arthritis, or some such crippling disease. She overcame that illness and lived a full life. Steve, her brother, was nearer my age, became a good working companion when he was rural carrier out of Milton and I was postmaster. Steve was a versatile man and boy, good athlete excelling in baseball, but also a worth artist. They were an interesting family, widely traveled. They had a touring car of some kind, great long thing, with great distance between the front and back seats, with pull down seats between and vases on the side. Luxurious for its time, which was long before them came to Milton, but a part of their family.

Since then the house has not had residents and is available for restoration. What a wonderful asset it could be to Milton!! When I went to work as a postal clerk the Post Office was there. Painted with a calcimine paint in a sick green that rubbed off on little girls who sidled along the walls waiting for the mail. There must have been about 20 lock boxes and a wonderful vault with steel door, remaining from the time it was a bank. After the Post Office moved to a new building, the Walkers made that vault into the safest bathroom in Caswell County.

Source: "Milton Memories" by Jean Scott, The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), December 2008.
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Milton Bank Building

Milton had been served by an agency of the state bank since 1834, for in that year the State Bank of North Carolina, originally chartered in 1810 was newly incorporated as the Bank of the State of North Carolina and established an agency in Milton In April of 1834 the Milton agent reported to the bank commissioners in Raleigh that he had taken 166 subscriptions for capital stock in the bank, and the Milton agency must have opened soon after May 23, 1834, when the commissioners announced that the subscription drive was closed (One of the seventeen citizens who purchased stock in the state bank agency was Thomas Day, a very talented free Black furniture craftsman whose workshop was in Milton.)

In 1835 the state bank bought the lot at the corner of Broad and Bridge streets which contained the "Office of Discount and Deposit" of the Bank of New Bern, one of the two earliest private banks in the state. The state bank agency was housed in this former office of the Bank of New Bern, built between 1820 and 1826.

In 1859 the Milton agency was elevated to branch status, and in January, 1860, the state bank purchased a lot on the north side of Broad Street between Lea's Alley and Liberty Street for $1,000 and constructed the branch Banking House -- which is the subject of this nomination.

The Civil War severely weakened the Bank of North Carolina, however, and all branches and agencies were closed by August 9, 1865, although the liquidation process continued until 1874.

Charles Dewey, the cashier of the state bank, sold the Banking House and property to a Milton citizen in 1873 for $3,200. However, the building's banking days were not over. The Sanborn Insurance Maps of Milton indicate that in 1893 the Merchants' and Planters' Bank occupied the premises, and by 1908 the structure housed the Bank of Caswell. Soon after this the bank failed and from about 1912 to 1963 the building served as a combination residence and the Milton Post Office.

The Milton State Bank is truly a "banking house," for the structure has housed an intriguing combination of commercial and residential functions. The building is set, its side to the street, with a plain street entrance opening to the banking room. Architectural elaboration is reserved for the entrance to the residential quarters in the long side of the structure, away from the street and protected by a porch. The orientation and the interior division of space is very similar to the central banking house of the state bank in Raleigh built fifty years earlier, in 1813. It too has a simple street entrance in the narrow side and a more elaborate residential entrance away from the street.

Source: National Register of Historic Places Application (1973).
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Old Fleming Place Is Sold For $6,000
(Special to The Bee)
Yanceyville, N. C. Oct. 22 [1923] – Word reaching here from Milton is that the old Fleming house was sold at auction last Saturday afternoon to Lex Motz, a merchant of Milton, his last bid for the famous old place being $6,000. A quantity of fine old mahogany furniture was sold separately to a number of different people. Some of the pieces were valuable and brought good sums. The sale was largely attended not only by people of this section but by several people who came from distant states and who were interested if not in the building itself in its old traditions and history. It is understood that Mr. Motz intends to make some improvements and to occupy the home himself.
The Fleming place is one of the landmarks of this section. Years ago it was the North Carolina State Bank built by the state authorities and operated successfully by the Flemings for a number of years. That was in the day and time when the banking quarters were part and parcel of the residence of the bankers and the staff. It was a rendezvous for the surrounding territory such towns as Danville doing their banking at the state bank. The
building was of colonial type built of fine material with large and spacious rooms.
The Bee (Danville, Virginia) 22 October 1923 [click article for larger image]
Lex Motz was Alexander Hamilton Motz (1885-1973). He married Martha Frances Kerr (1883-1965) and they had a daughter named Mary Kerr Motz (1917-2005). The A. H. Motz store still stands on the Square in Yanceyville. Note that the Milton State Bank building changed hands again the next year, 1924, when it was purchased by Solomon Angle (born c.1902)

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The Bee (Danville, Virginia) 6 August 1924 (Page 3)
Old Fleming Home at Milton Again Changing Hands

The Old Colonial home of the Flemings at Milton, once the central bank of this entire section and which was recently sold at auction, has been purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Sol Angle at a private sale it was learned today. Mr. Angle well-known in Halifax county as a large land owner, cotton and tobacco and as the owner of the splendid old place "Glennburnie" is understood to have acquired the property at a price in excess of the former auction price and is planning to make a number of improvements which will not however destroy the fine old lines of the Fleming home. Water and electric light are to be installed and as soon as this has been done, the old home is to be occupied and reopened.

Mr. Angle owns some of the richest land to be found on the Dan River. The old Glenn place in Halifax county which he still owns was built in 1765 and is in a splendid state of preservation.
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The Sol Angle who made the purchase is thought to be Solomon Angle (born c.1902) and a son of Thomas Mayes Angle (1863-1929) and Eva Margaret Staton Angle (1869-1949). While he would have been a relatively young man to own so much real estate, it is thought that his wife brought considerable wealth to the marriage.

(click photograph for larger image)
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"Glennburnie" was near Milton and subsequently burned.

Query whether the "old Glenn place in Halifax county" is actually "Bloomsburg," the ancestral Glenn family home.


For more see The Original Bloomsburg.

Do not confuse "Glenburnie" (which was near Milton, burned, and is no more) with "Bloomsburg" (which remains standing today on U.S. 58 at Turbeville, Virginia, even though its size was reduced by fire in the upper floors).
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Note that the Milton State Bank Building discussed and shown above also has been known as the Ola Walker House. The following is from Milton, North Carolina: Sidelights of History, Charles B. Motley (1976) at 84-88:
Visiting in this home was a delight as Mrs. Walker is a delightful hostess. Mr. and Mrs. Edward W. Walker and children Stephen Edward and Lillian Celestia (Mrs. Homer C. Mauer of Danville, Va.) moved from Locust Hill, Caswell County, and purchased the stately home in Milton in 1936.

The home is unusually solid, every other brick is "headed in." It was erected more than a century ago, perhaps 1859-63, according to architectural design, picture below [shown above].

Mrs. Walker showed us some beautiful and ornate furniture, solid walnut and mahogany. Of Thomas Day's handiwork, two pieces are preserved, a round table is in two halves and contains a secret drawer, perhaps for silver.

There is a chest of drawers showing the thorough construction, the deep wine colored wood, reflecting again the excellence of Day's craftsmanship.

Stephen, the son, pointed out things of interest in the tastefully decorated home. Three windows, in the portion used as the bank, measure 8 1/2 feet high and 3 feed 4 inches wide. Twelve 1-inch steel bars are anchored vertically the full length of the windows and are reinforced horizontally with metal plates 2 inches wide. The vault may still be seen but has been ingeniously converted into a bathroom.

The post office was in the home when the Walkers moved there in 1936 and remained there until 1964 except for a short time when it was in the Caswell Hotel.

In the home of Stephen Walker, who lives on the adjoining lot, are various seeds (in the original package) brought from the store operated by his grandfather, Stephen Siddle, in Locust Hill. There are celery seeds from T. W. Wood Seed Co., Richmond, Va., dated 1896; also "Golden Trophy" tomato seeds from David Landreth & Son, Phila. Pa., dated 1892.

The Ola Walker home housed the Merchants and Planters Bank with Dr. J. A. Hurdle, President and R. L. Walker Cashier. At a later time F. B. Jones was President and Edd Hines Cashier.

There are two schools of thought as to the location of the Milton Branch of the North Carolina State Bank. Some are of the firm opinion that it was in the Walker home, that the State of North Carolina erected this home as a State Bank with living quarters for the banker.

Others are just as firmly of the opinion that the State Bank was never located in the Walker home but rather on the lot of the home which was later purchased by Albert G. Ferguson, on the corner of Broad Street and Warehouse Street (Sycamore St.). It is said that Ferguson dismantled the portion that was the Milton Branch of the State of North Carolina Bank when he renovated the home.

The writer is simply passing along opinions and shall leave it to others to determine the location of the Milton Branch of the North Carolina State Bank.

We also were advised by a knowledgeable Miltonian that there was a Bank of Caswell County located in Milton and perhaps in the Walker home.
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The Milton State Bank Building sits on Lot #20 in Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina.

Caswell County, North Carolina
Deed Book O, Page 12

Matthew Terry to Durrett Richards and Josiah Samuel of Milton, for $1000, lot #20 in Milton of 1/2 acre. 25 January 1805. Witnesses: Daniel S. Farley, John Buchanan, Jeremiah Samuel.

Source: Caswell County North Carolina Deed Books 1777-1817, Katharine Kerr Kendall (1989) at 256.
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