On March 1, 1898, James Turner “J.T.” Edmondson founded the Bank of Gravett, making it the oldest bank in Benton County and one of the oldest in the state.
At the end of December, the Edmondson’s 120-year association with the bank officially ended.
Edmondson’s great-granddaughter, Sharron Edmondson, retired at the end of the year. She joined Bank of Gravett and its holding company, Gravett Bancshares Inc., in 1996 as an appraiser, and was appointed by the board of directors as the banking concern’s first female president in February 2017.
Edmondson, who is an only child, was the fourth generation of leadership at Bank of Gravett. Her great-grandfather was bank president from 1912 to 1957, and her grandfather, J.T. Edmondson Jr., was president from 1958 to 1983. Edmondson’s father, Jim Allen Edmondson, retired as chairman of Gravett Bancshares earlier this year, following the bank’s July sale to Springdale-chartered Legacy BancShares Inc., holding company for Legacy National Bank.
The two banks operate separately and independently of each other. Legacy National Bank — with $505 million in assets as of Sept. 30, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. — is a full-service community bank with five locations serving Fayetteville, Bentonville, Rogers and Springdale. Bank of Gravett, with assets of $130 million as of Sept. 30, has three locations, in Gravette, Hiwasse and Centerton.
Sharron Edmondson joked that her plans for retirement include everything.
“I do a lot of artwork, and I was an art teacher before starting in banking,” she said. “I do a lot of Indian art, too — beading, basketry and knife making. I’ve got a lot of Indian heritage from my mother’s side, and I am learning the Cherokee language. I’m also starting some writing projects.”
Edmondson still resides with her father and daughter on the family Centennial farm southwest of Maysville. It’s actually in Delaware County in Oklahoma. The Edmondson family farm is also home of Fort Wayne, an historical Civil War battleground along Spavinaw Creek.
“It has been a real pleasure to work with Sharron during the acquisition of Bank of Gravett,” said Legacy National Bank President and CEO Patrick Swope. “It is an honor to be the bank to carry on their legacy that was started 120 years ago by Sharron’s great-grandfather. We wish Sharron the best in retirement.”
Swope said Brian Glenn has been named Bank of Gravett’s new president. Glenn is Legacy National Bank’s executive vice president and chief operations officer, and he will continue in that role as well.
WHERE’S THE ‘E’?
Besides its status as Benton County’s oldest bank, Bank of Gravett — chartered in Gravette — can also claim the title of the Benton County bank that causes the most confusion. Especially true to the thousands of residents who’ve relocated to Northwest Arkansas, who may have noticed the spelling discrepancy and believed they were seeing a typo.
According to Michael von Ree of the Gravette Historical Museum, who writes for the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture: “With E.T. Gravett managing the project, the land was platted for the original town, and papers were filed July 26, 1893. The town of Gravette received its charter on Aug. 9, 1893. No one is sure how or when the town got the extra ‘e’ at the end of its name. The most popular story involves confusion within the postal service and a town with a similar name.”
That extra “e” was likely added sometime after Bank of Gravett was chartered in 1898. Thus, the bank retained the original spelling in its commercial name.