On February 20, 1904, the Bank of Lamar was chartered, with a capital stock of $10,000. Dr. James A. Cole, a physician and owner of Cole Drug Store and other properties, was named the bank’s president. The bank served the Lamar and surrounding community faithfully for more than seven years, until the bank’s directors decided to go into liquidation on April 17, 1911, as there was “no money on hand to be paid out.” In the Sumter Daily Item on April 18, 1911, “failure to observe sound banking rules” was the stated cause of the bank’s ultimate demise. The article also states that, as far as could be determined, no state banking laws were violated.
Although the Bank of Lamar failed in relatively short order, Dr. James A. Cole was and remained a highly-regarded figure in the community. After completing his medical training in Baltimore, Dr. Cole returned to his native state to practice medicine in Lamar on June 10, 1886, when he “rolled in with his pestle on the 1st instant.” For years thereafter, he juggled being a working physician, a drug store owner, and, later in 1904, the president of the Bank of Lamar. In addition to being “a liberal contributor to the Baptist orphanage of S.C.” and a lifelong deacon in the Baptist Church, he was also a husband to Miss Alice Grey and a father of three children. According to a flattering article I found in the Commission’s archives, “The double burden. . .as an energetic, thorough-going physician, and as a man of business, has told upon his health.” Dr. James A. Cole died in Timmonsville, S.C., on March 11, 1914.