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Credit of the County

Story of Alex F. Mathews, Lewisburg's First Banker









The Credit of the County

(from the Historical Booklet, Greenbrier Co., 1938)





No stronger statement can be made about any man than the old saying “his word is as good as his bond.”


Such a man was Greenbrier County’s first “official” banker – Alexander Ferdinand Mathews, of Lewisburg.



From all that can be gathered from old records and word-of-mouth passed down through the years, it seems likely that the original settlers in the county had no need of a banker, although they did do business on a credit basis, when necessary, every man knowing whom he might trust and acting accordingly.  When a man’s crops failed, he received help from his neighbors with no thought of interest due.  When his neighbors needed help, he repaid them, giving full measure running over.


As time ran on, a central clearinghouse was badly needed.  Someone in whom the people had confidence, some place where money might be obtained by energetic, capable citizens with laudable ambition to better themselves, to build for their descendants – these became necessary.


Alex F. Mathews


The need was met by one of Greenbrier’s most dignified distinguished, and respected men – Alex F. Mathews.


He was the second son of Mason and Elizabeth (Reynolds) Mathews.  His elder brother was Henry Mason Mathews, Greenbrier’s first Governor of West Virginia.  He was born November 13, 1838, and he died December 18, 1906, at the age of 68 years, 1 month, and 4 days.


He was educated at the old Lewisburg Academy and the University of Virginia, graduating shortly before the Civil War with the degree of Master of Arts.  In 1861, he entered the Confederate Army.  He served on the Staff of General Wise, and the record shows that on Aug. 11, 1861, he held the rank of Captain and Assistant Commissary of Subsistence.  He was relieved from duty with the 59th Virginia Regiment on June 22, 1863.


On December 28, 1865, he married Miss Laura Gardner of Christiansburg, VA.  Their children were Mason, Charles Gardner, Mary Miller, Eliza Patton, Maud, Florence, and Henry.


Alex Mathews was the leading figure in founding the Bank of Lewisburg, which opened for business on July 29, 1871.  The thirty-three years old banker was president or a director of the bank continuously until his death.


Among those who worked with him in starting the financial institution were Judge Adam Snyder and Judge Homer A. Holt.


       * Judge Adam Snyder

 Judge Homer A. Holt




Alex’s brother, Joseph William, was the first cashier of the bank.  He held this office until his death in 1897.


For many years, Lewisburg had the only bank between Staunton and Charleston.


The First National Bank of Ronceverte is the second oldest bank in the present Greenbrier County.  It was founded in 1888 and became a national bank in 1890.




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