Carolina History Project
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Banking, business, driver's license, tax papers and etc. in Gaffney/Cherokee County, South Carolina, from 1913 to 1929, from the estate of Thomas Earl Ruppe (1892-1975)

If you enjoyed reading the World War I-era letters from Gaffney, South Carolina addressed to Thomas E. Ruppe, who served in an artillary unit in France, you will find this page interesting as well.  You can view this previously mentioned page here at: 

                                        Gaffney, South Carolina World War I

Herein are some of the business papers of this gentleman who was born in Cherokee County, South Carolina, near Gaffney, on November 13th, 1892.  These are just normal banking, business and tax papers similar to like what we would have today.  We haven't reached the "paperless" society yet, but more and more as we progress through the 21st century, things like this are becoming "digitized."  But going back to the early 20th century, the first thing we have here is a bank book from The National Bank of Gaffney, Gaffney, South Carolina, the years 1913-1916.  At the time, such a bank in this particular community would have primarily been lending and funding local family-owned farms...probably some of the local textile mills...and the local businesses that supported "all of the above."

This is the bank book that belonged to Thomas E. Ruppe that he first received in 1913.  He certainly had a nice signature, with handwriting similar to his father, John T. Ruppe.

As it states on the back of the bank book, The National Bank of Gaffney back in the 19-teens had

Capital Stock................................$150,000.00
Surplus and Undivided Profits....$45,000.00
Shareholders' Liability................$150,000.00

Protection to Depositors.............$345,000.00

D. C. Ross, President
J.A. Carroll, Vice-President
Maynard Smyth, Cashier
C. W. Hames, Ass't Cashier

(No doubt there are some modern-day descendents in Cherokee County from the folks that ran this bank.)

It appears that Thomas Ruppe opened up an account by depositing $20.00 into The National Bank of Gaffney on December 12th of 1913.  Mr. Ruppe would have been 21 at the time.  Deposits are on this one page only (no other pages were filled out.)  Deposits were infrequent from 1913 until 1916.  At one point he had $50.00 in his account.  On November 13th, 1916, the account appears to be empty and a "New Book Given."  (Perhaps he had misplaced this one.)  I wonder what the modern-day descendent of this bank is today?  Did it survive Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Bank Holiday" of 1933?  Remember, there was no Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) back then.

It is interesting to find a half portion of a fifty-cent US fractional currency note among Thomas Ruppe's papers.  Fractional currency was issued during the US Civil War (1861-1865) in response to the hoarding of US silver coins.  This currency was issued well into the 1870's, ceasing in 1876.  And if you find some of this fractional currency is still legal tender to spend!  (Though I wouldn't reccomend it.)  This paper, if it still had its other half, could of course, have been spent as money....even back in 19-teens Gaffney!

When Thomas Ruppe returned from his service in France after the war, it appears that he opened another savings account with an either new or perhaps "renamed" bank:  The First National Bank of Gaffney, South Carolina. 

We see that he had an account with this bank, starting Dec. 2nd, 1921.  The last deposit found in this book is on November 13th, 1922.  Sometimes he had over $200.00...and sometimes as little as $14.00 in his account.  I guess that was normal for the time.  (That's normal for some folks now, too!)  What might have Thomas Ruppe been investing in?  I was told that he did local barbaring.  Among his papers, I found a coupon for "Colgates Barbers' Shaving Soap Premium Certificate--Value 10 Coupons--Cash Value 2 Cents."  (Note the "foaming" shaving mugs illustrated on each corner of the coupon.  Such shaving mugs were a normal fixture in barbershops back then.)

Also, it appears that Thomas Ruppe ran a grocery store in this account bill for "B. B. Hill" written on April 1st, 1924 would indicate.  B. B. Hill owed Mr. Ruppe $72.65.

Bill for "T. E. Ruppe Heavy And Fancy Groceires, 830 W. Frederick St...All Bills Due On Monday."  I wonder what is standing at this address today?

In the same year of 1924, Thomas Ruppe paid his Cherokee County taxes which ran him all of $21.04.  (Boy, wouldn't you like to have that kind of a property bill today!)  All of his personal property was valued by the county at a sum of $355.00.  It's interesting to note that he had to pay a one dollar "poll tax."  At the time, that was a tax that many Southern states levied on the "privilege of voting."  Such things got repealed with the Federal Civil Rights Acts of the 1960's and 1970's.  

On December 30th, 1927, Thomas Ruppe paid $12.55 to the South Carolina State Highway Department, Motor Vehicle Division of Columbia, South Carolina, to renew his license to drive an Oakland Truck?  (I can't make out the writing here.)  That seems to be an awful stiff price to pay for a license back then.

Below is his 1929 South Carolina Motor Vehicle License "Transfer" Card.  I guess that means "driver's license" for short.

It seems that Mr. Ruppe drove a 1927 Oakland "Coach." that is listed as weighing 2,860 pounds.  Obviously a heavy motor vehicle.  Was it some kind of bus?  (I don't know what the abbreviation "AAS" means.)  His Motor Number is L180329, Serial Number 175155.  His license is coded as "R-8," stamped February 26th, 1929.  He is still listed as living in the city of Gaffney, Cherokee County, South Carolina.  It appears that the cost of this license was $15.05.  Again, kind of steep for the time.  My business papers for Thomas Ruppe pretty much dry up about here.  According to his death certificate that was sent to me by Ruppe family geneaolgist, J. Lee Hunter, Thomas E. Ruppe's last address was at 408 Hetty Hill Street in Gaffney, South Carolina.  He was married to Lillian Sanders and lived to the age of 82, passing away at the Oteen, North Carolina VA hospital, near Asheville on May 16th, 1975 and is buried at Frederick Memorial Gardens.

Just a small note here:  Many of the ephemeral artifacts found on this website are now, due to age, in the public domain and are from my private collection.  Items and quotes of a more recent vintage, that are used here in part for newsworthy commentary and/or educational purposes, are covered by the Fair Use Act of The US Copyright Office.  Thank you.   

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