John Davis Garner. While his name is now most familiar to the people of Custer County as president of the Farmers’ State Guaranty Bank at Thomas, Mr. Garner was one of the real pioneers of this section of the state and has been variously identified with farming, merchandising, banking and public affairs for fully fifteen years.
The family which he represents is of old colonial American stock, the Garners having come from Ireland to South Carolina, and the great-grandfather of the Thomas banker lived at Pendleton, South Carolina, and from that locality offered his services as a soldier during the Revolutionary war. John Davis Garner is a Georgia man by birth, born at Gainesville in Hall County, October 22, 1868. His father, Joseph A. Garner, who spent his active career as a farmer and stock man, was born at Gainesville in 1846 and died there in 1891. For eighteen months he was a soldier in the Confederate army. His church was the Baptist. Joseph A. Garner married Louisa Whelchel, who was born in Gainesville in 1847 and died in 1886. Their children were: John D.; India, the wife of W. S. Huff, an attorney at Dahlonega, Georgia; Eula is the wife of Herbert S. Blackwell, of Lula, Georgia, and Mr. Blackwell for twenty-one years has been an engineer in the service of the Southern Railway and the company ranks him No. 1 for efficiency; Cynthia married George W. Shackleford, an attorney living in Florida; Henry A. is a railroad man at Lula, Georgia; Robert C. is a farmer at Price, Georgia; and Joseph E. died in infancy.
The educational training with which Mr. Garner started life was acquired in the public schools at Gainesville, and he was graduated from the high school with the class of 1886. The next fourteen years he spent as a Georgia farmer. In January, 1900, he came to Oklahoma, for about three weeks was located at El Reno, and then went out to Dewey County, where he spent twelve months in preparing the first and only map of its kind showing in red ink the allotments of every Indian of the Kiowa, Comanche and Caddo reservation. Obviously this was a work of great value to the early settlers there. Having perfected this map, Mr. Garner bought a farm of 320 acres three miles northwest of Fay. He still owns that property, though it has been operated under a renter since 1906. In 1905 Mr. Garner moved to Thomas, and was actively engaged in the mercantile business there until 1910. The greater part of that year he spent on the old home farm of 350 acres near Gainesville, Georgia, and this estate is now included in his property holdings. Returning to Thomas in October, 1910, he resumed his merchandising activities, and gave them his active supervision until August 12, 1913. At that date he became identified with the Farmers State Guaranty Bank as cashier. A few weeks later, October 15, 1913, he reorganized the bank, and has since been its executive head. Mr. Garner is an excellent financier, and under his management the bank has prospered as never before in its history, and the State Banking Department has had occasion to comment most favorably several times upon its management.
The Farmers State Guaranty Bank of Thomas was established July 12, 1909, as a state institution. The present officers are: John D. Garner, president; A. E. Stevenson of Enid, vice president; Ray Wycoff, cashier, and W. D. Alexander, assistant cashier. The capital stock is $25,000, and surplus $5,000. The quarters for the bank and for offices were built of brick and stone in 1910 at the corner of Main Street and Broadway. Mr. Garner owns a half interest in this bank building aside from his share as a stockholder.
Politically he has always been a democrat, and for two years was mayor of Thomas. He belongs to the Baptist Church, and has taken much interest in Masonry. For four years he served as master of Thomas Lodge No. 265, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; was high priest five years of Thomas Chapter No. 53, Royal Arch Masons; and is a member of Weatherford Commandery No. 17, Knights Templar, and India Temple of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine at Oklahoma City. He also belongs to the Thomas Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma State Bankers Association..
At his old home at Gainesville December 18, 1889, he married Miss Mellie Thompson, a daughter of the late Andrew J. Thompson.