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"A Brief History of Gates Baking and Trust Company" Submitted to the Board of Directors by R.V. Lilley in honor of Mr. W.J. Humphreys.

In the Year 1945

In the early years of this 20th century, in which two of the most destructive wars known to man, both in life and property have been concluded, and in which we now launch upon a new era of atomic energy, a group of farmers, business and professional men, in and near the Town of Gates in West Tennessee, decided to organize a bank for their convenience, and for the interest of the surrounding country. Sometime in the early months of the year 1904 this group of men called a meeting to formally begin this organization. The minutes of the bank do not reveal the place of the meeting, but the date was set for May 14, 1904. At this meeting the late Dr. J.R. Conyers of Gates was selected to act as chairman, and J.B. Lee, Sr. as Secretary. Some forty or fifty men subscribed for stock, the number of which indicates the desire and need of a bank, and this group subscribed for the 250 shares at $50 a share thereby completing a capitalization of the present Capital of $12,500.00.

After the stock was subscribed, a committee was appointed by the chairman consisting of three men, namely, R.B. Bell, R.W. Tanner and D.H. Cherry, to select and submit for approval the officers and directors of the proposed organization, and to take care of the affairs after the completion of the organization. Their selection being approved by vote, the following were named for officers:

Dr. J.R. Conyers, President
R.B. Bell, Vice-President
J.E. McColpin, Cashier


Dr. D.J. Conyers
D.H. Cherry
N.L. Robertson

W.D. Parker
J.M. Abernathy
W.B. McColpin

Coleman Hafford
J.E. McColpin
W.R. Miller

It was then moved and carried that the new bank be named Gates Banking and Trust Company, and that five of the officers elected file application for Charter under the Laws of the State of Tennessee, and that the same after being granted be put into operation on September 1, 1904, or as soon thereafter as possible.

On August 19, 1904, a deed was given to the present lot by John Tomlinson for the consideration of $50.00, and it is reported by what the writer considers a reliable source, the same being told by one of the community's oldest residents, Mr. J.F. Baucom, that at this time a contract was given Mr. R. J. Moore to erect the present building at a cost of approximately $2,500.00. Mr. Moore burned the brick from clay obtained in the nearby hill and proceeded with the actual construction, however it was not completed in time to open on September 1, 1904, as previously requested, and that an additional month was required to finish the job. Mr. Baucom also states that the fixtures now used were made by hand, and installed in the present building, although some changes have been made since, the majority portion now remain good and in keeping with any country bank equipment.

The directors announced the opening date as October 1, 1904, and also offered a reward of a Stetson hat to the first depositor leaving on account an amount of $300.00 or more, which was claimed by the late Mr. C.S. Whitaker, who had recently sold a farm and had received payment on that date in the amount of $1,600.00.

There is very little information revealed by the minutes of the bank on the progress in the early years up to 1912, and at that time the Financial Statement shows resources of about $72,000.00. No doubt the officers and directors of the early days of this institution looked far into the future, and planned an organization that rightfully is and we hope continues to be a credit to the community it serves and to the banking system of this nation. Their untiring efforts should not and do not go unnoticed by the present officers and directors who constantly keep in mind the purposes set forth by these early leaders, and needless to say that if today we would devote the same measure of devotion, time and interest in the bank as they did, greater success could be had in the future.
All the work and interest of our predecessors had not been in vain while serving this community, because a total of 394% has been paid to the stockholders in cash or a total of $49,250.00. This of course represents only one of the values and possibly the least, for untold services have been rendered to the public by both our predecessors and the present officers and directors of the bank.

For the information of those concerned today, a list of the Presidents and Cashiers having served, and the time served by each is:


  • Dr. J.R. Conyers 1904 to 1921
  • Mr. R.J. Moore 1921 to 1927
  • Mr. J.W. Pearson 1927 to 1934
  • Mr. W. J. Humphreys 1934 to 1949


  • Mr. J.E. McColpin 1904 to 1910
  • Mr. J.C. Wesson 1910 to 1912
  • Mr. L.L. McDearman 1912 to 1929
  • Mr. A.E. Scott 1929 to 1940
  • Mr. R.V. Lilley 1940 to 1984

The continued growth of the bank is reflected in the statement below, which is to date, the largest ever attained since the organization.

Statement at the Close of Business December 5, 1945

Cash & sight Exchange
U.S. Gov't Bonds & War
Bldg., Fur. & Fixtures
Loans & Discount



Und. Profits


This brief resume is offered to the present board of directors in Honor of the present President, Mr. W.J. Humphreys, who has given freely of his time and devotion and for his satisfaction for what it may be worth to the future Officers and Directors of the Gates Banking and Trust Company.

We who are present would not be unmindful also of one or two of our Directors that have passed away since the present board and officers have been active, and they are Mr. R.J. Moore, who gave his time freely and untiringly, and probably did more than the minutes reveal toward the progress of the bank and his community, and Dr. Dave J. Conyers, to whom there is little doubt, steered the bank through a very critical time in the year 1940, and on whom we here now owe a debt of gratitude that we can only repay by further service to our fellowman, and by following his footsteps in the support of the bank as an officer and director.