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DeWitt First Set to Sell for $26.1M

3 min read

The stockholders at DeWitt First Bankshares Corp. are looking at a $26.1 million payday in the pending sale to Southern Bancorp Inc. of Arkadelphia.

About 95% of the parent company of the $188 million-asset Arkansas County Bank is owned by the descendants of DeWitt businessman L.A. Black. The four largest shareholders are:

  • Georgea McKinley Greaves, Greenville, South Carolina, 24.18% worth $6.3 million;
  • Lester McKinley, DeWitt, 23.78% worth $6.2 million;
  • Mary M. Jennings, DeWitt, 13.74% worth $3.6 million; and
  • The estate of Warren Jennings Sr., DeWitt, 10.16% worth $2.6 million.

Warren Jennings Jr., CEO and president of the bank and holding company, has voting control of an additional 10.09% stake, worth $2.6 million. Jennings will remain aboard with Southern Bancorp after the sale, expected to close in the second quarter.

“You hit a crossroads where you have to have size and economies of scale to move forward,” Jennings said. “We felt like Southern Bancorp was the best bank to carry on the L.A. Black family legacy.”

The acquisition of DeWitt First will add two counties to the Southern Bancorp footprint: Arkansas and Sevier.

With a branch in Stuttgart, the DeWitt-based lender holds a 17.72% share of Arkansas County’s $543 million-deposit market. Its $96 million deposit total is the third-largest among four banks.

Rounding out the competitive field are Farmers & Merchants Bank of Stuttgart with deposits of $251 million (46.3%); BancorpSouth Bank of Tupelo, Mississippi, with deposits of $107.8 million (19.8%); and Stone Bank of Mountain View, with deposits $87.7 million (16.14%).

Originally founded in 1912 as First National Bank, the bank was recast as Arkansas County Bank in 2006. The then-First National leapt more than 200 miles to the west to buy the financial remains of the Bank of Lockesburg in May 1985.

News accounts of the day reported that the Sevier County lender was acquired from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for $150,000 plus $9.7 million for a chunk of the insolvent bank’s loans and assets. The deal also encompassed about 3,000 deposit accounts with $24.5 million.

The reconstituted Bank of Lockesburg operated under a separate charter until 2002 when it became a branch of the DeWitt bank.

These days, the Lockesburg operations hold deposits of $30.7 million, more than 85% of the deposits in Lockesburg, where First State Bank of De Queen is the only competitor on the ground.

Those Lockesburg deposits represent 7.06% of the $435.7 million deposit market in Sevier County. Arkansas County Bank’s stake is the fourth-largest in a competitive field of six.

The three largest shares of deposits are held by Horatio State Bank, $195.2 million (44.8%); First State Bank, $129.7 million (29.78%); and Arvest Bank of Fayetteville, $41.3 million (9.49%).

Looking back, the Bank of Lockesburg represented Arkansas bank failure No. 7 in the 1980s. During that decade, regulators closed:

  • Citizens Bank of Tillar on June 23, 1982;
  • First Security Bank of North Arkansas in Horseshoe Bend on Aug. 27, 1982;
  • Bank of Quitman on Nov. 12, 1982;
  • Prairie County Bank in Hazen on March 24, 1983;
  • Corning Bank on June 15, 1984; and
  • Jackson County National Bank, Tuckerman, on Aug. 9, 1984.

By the end of 1990, another 23 financial institutions in Arkansas would fail during the S&L crisis. That list is dominated by 20 thrifts, which began with Guaranty Savings & Loan in Harrison on Dec. 6, 1985.

Arkansas County Bank, DeWitt
Total Assets: $188 million
Net Income: $2.5 million
Dividends: $2.6 million
Staff: 42
Two full-service branches: Stuttgart and Lockesburg


Total Assets*

Net Income*


Efficiency Ratio



















































*In thousands
Source: Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
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