Nall knows his bank history
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
The Bank of Brewton is the oldest bank in Alabama and most of the employees have been there a long time. Eddie Nall is no exception. He has been there for 35 years, working his way up from bookkeeping to senior vice president.
Bookkeeping soon led him to a position as a teller at the branch bank and then to the loan department. Today he is the internal auditor and compliance officer where he makes sure the bank follows all federal rules and regulations.
Nall has anther job at the bank, even though it is an unofficial one. There is no title for this job but one could call him the expert on the history of the bank. It is a job that he has found to be challenging and fun at the same time.
According to Nall, the bank came about because Charles Sowell declared in 1889 that Brewton was in need of a bank and that "if he loaded all of his gold and silver on a wagon, the mules couldn't ever haul it." Mr. Sowell was a veteran of the Civil War. He was wounded, captured and detained in a prison camp. At the end of the war he was sent by ship to Mobile and walked home from there. Nall tells the story of his being injured in battle and left on the battlefield to die. A Yankee doctor came by and figured Sowell was too near death to try to save. He came back a few hours later and found Sowell still living, so he decided to try to save him. The arm was amputated and Sowell was lucky enough to make it back home alive. After that he got involved in the timber business and made lots of money, apparently enough to want to open a bank to house it. Another interesting fact is that one of Sowell's homes was where English Realty is now. Another home was the one that sits on the corner of Gordon and Sowell Road. In the early days of Brewton, Sowell Road led to the house, thus the name.
Nall gets very excited talking about the history of the bank. He has found a copy of The Montgomery Advertiser dated March 15, 1928, telling an amusing tale.
In 1899, 10 years after the founding of the bank, rumors got out that the bank was connected to a Florida concern, which failed. Although there was no danger to the depositors' money, the bank was overrun by people wanting to withdraw their money. When they were about to run out of money, bank officials notified their depository in Pensacola to ship some money to Brewton right away. The Pensacola bank sent $2,000 in round, shining silver dollars, which they shipped in a barrel by train.
During the unloading of the barrel in Brewton, the container slipped and hit the ground. The weight of the money inside caused the metal bands of the barrel to break and the coins scattered. As one official expressed it, "the mass of spilled dollars looked no less than a million."
The effect of the incident was to satisfy those in the crowd that the Bank of Brewton did indeed have money and there was no need to withdraw what they had.
Nall is so knowledgeable about the history of the bank that he has been invited to be the speaker at this month's meeting of the Escambia County Historical Society on Sept. 27. Everyone is welcomed to attend the meeting, whether a member or not.
Nall was born in Brewton, although his family lived in Evergreen at the time. They later moved to Brewton. His father was an auto mechanic for 20 years before becoming a minister, thus following in the footsteps of his great grandfather, who had been a circuit riding preacher in Conecuh County and the first pastor of Ramah Primitive Baptist Church at Lenox.
Nall went through the Brewton city school system and in his words "struggled some until about the 11th grade. He graduated in 1968 from T.R. Miller High School and attended Jefferson Davis Junior College taking business classes, but enjoying the history classes. He had a job at West Brothers Department Store, which was in Brewton Heights Shopping Center.
Nall has been married 27 years to his wife, Sandy, who is an eighth grade English schoolteacher at Brewton Middle School. They have five children and six grandchildren. They are very involved with their church, North Brewton Baptist Church. He teaches an adult class, is a deacon and works with the Royal Ambassadors (RAs) on Wednesday. They have been on mission trips to West Virginia and Kentucky and hope to go on others.
When he is not working at his job or with his church, Nall likes to do small woodworking projects and blacksmithing jobs.