Traders National Bank was founded in 1889 in the old Crane Building with the late M.R. French as president. He was followed in those first years by M.R. Campbell Sr., M.N. Moore and F.B. Martin.
Four years after its establishment, the bank was moved across the street to 101 West Lincoln Street, and there it remained for 80 years. For 20 years, the bank rented the location for $20 a month. Officials eventually decided there was no point in paying rent and purchased the building.
Edward I. Hitt, a native of Bedford County always better known by his initials, became the active officer in charge of the bank in 1911 and remained its president until his death in 1961.
He had farmed and taught in public schools until 1903, when he was offered a position with First National Bank in Decatur, Ala. He remained there five years, during which time he met and married Miss Anna Preuitt. The couple moved to Normandy in 1908, where Mr. Hitt operated a bank until joining Traders.
A major milestone in the bank’s history occurred in 1957 when a complete five-month renovation of the bank’s quarters was completed. The project totally renewed the building from expansion into the space formerly occupied by Wooten’s Department Store.
Edward F. Hitt became Traders’ fifth president upon the death of his father. He had originally joined the bank in 1938 and worked there until joining the service in 1942. During his Army service he was a cashier in the finance department of the 38th Infantry Division. Upon his discharge in 1946, he rejoined the bank and soon thereafter was elected a vice president. In 1957 he was named executive vice president and, in 1961, president.
The next step in the bank’s expansion was construction of its branch office on West Lincoln Street in 1965. As it does today, the branch offered both drive-through and walk-in services to its customers. The large outdoor sign, which displays both time and temperature, was something of a novelty when it was erected. That sign has been replaced by a newer model.
There was another change in the presidency in 1966, when Travis Hitt became president upon the death of his brother, Edward. Travis had joined the bank as an assistant cashier in 1933 and was named to the board of directors in 1935. He has been a director of the bank ever since, and was named chairman of the board in 1987.
During this period of time the Hitt family was further represented on the board of directors by E.I. Hitt’s daughter, Mrs. Maynard Tipps, and her husband.
In 1967, the Hitt family elected to sell its controlling interest in the institution to a group of three Memphians – Hugh Allan, senior vice president and director of Dover Corp.; Dr. J. J. McCaughan Jr., a surgeon, and George S. Miles, president of Macon Smith & Co., a financial consulting firm. Travis Hitt remained president of the bank under the new management, with Miles being named chairman of the board. About a year later, Miles was named president, with Hitt remaining as a member of the board of directors. C. Ray Copeland succeeded Miles in April of 1969. Miles remained as chairman of the board.
The greatest single physical change in the bank took place in the early 1970s with the construction of its new main building at the corner of Jackson and Grundy Streets. The plans for the building were announced in 1970 and specifications were completed in mid-1971 by Sverdrup & Parcel and Associates of Nashville. Later that year, the construction contract was awarded to Finley & McKinney, a Fayetteville construction firm. The project included the removal of five former businesses – two service stations, a taxicab company, and auto parts firm and a billiard parlor as well as removal of the old Woman’s Club building.
Traders inaugurated 1973 by holding open house in its new building in January with guided tours of the two-story structure. The new building opened in January 1973 and included 11,000 feet of floor space, including regular banking facilities on the ground floor and offices for the bank officers and a massive vault. Additional offices, a directors’ meeting room and a conference room are located on the second floor.
C. Ray Copeland, Charles N. Turner and Jack Jones acquired controlling interest in the bank from the Memphis group in 1977, with Copeland becoming president and chairman of the board and Jones executive vice president. About a year later, controlling interest was acquired by three area businessmen – attorney Tom Strawn, attorney Charles S. (Buck) Ramsey and Jerry Newton, owner of then-Radio Station WBGY.
In 1984, Copeland and his two sons, C. Phil and Tom Copeland, formed a holding company named TraCorp to purchase controlling interest in the bank. The transaction was completed in February 1987, and the leadership reorganized with the senior Copeland a chairman emeritus of the board of directors; Travis Hitt as board chairman; Bennie Garrick, who had been named president in 1982; C. Phil Copeland, vice president and trust officer, and Tom Copeland, director and bank attorney.
In June 1998 Traders ventured into Franklin County with the opening of a newly constructed full service bank building on Highway 41A in Winchester. Internet transactional banking was brought about in the fall of 1999. In 1999, a building was purchased on Highway 41 in Manchester, and after remodeling a branch was opened. This gave Traders four locations in three cities. 2002 started with renovation of the main office on the corner of Jackson and Grundy. With over one hundred million dollars in assets, Traders Bank has a major financial position in four cities.