May 18, 1932: Industrialist I.T. Mann Dies at 68

May 18, 2017

Credit E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Financier and industrialist I. T. Mann died in Washington on May 18, 1932, at age 68. As a young man, the Greenbrier County native apprenticed at his father’s bank. Then, in 1889, he helped organize the Bank of Bramwell in Mercer County. The bank became a financial pillar of the southern coalfields and attracted wealthy coal operators to the town. Bramwell soon achieved the distinction of being the “richest small town in America.”

In 1901, Mann had an eventful seven-minute meeting with financier J. P. Morgan in New York. He got funding for an ambitious scheme to acquire coal lands in McDowell County, making him a leading powerbroker in southern West Virginia. For three decades, he served as president of the Bank of Bramwell and the Pocahontas Fuel Company, with financial investments stretching from Chicago to Mexico City. He lived primarily in Bramwell but also resided in Washington, with vacation homes in Maine and Florida.

His financial empire came tumbling down when the stock market crashed in 1929. Still, I. T. Mann was one of the few native-born West Virginians to make a fortune in the southern coalfields.