ISAAC THOMAS MANN
A Historic Bramwell, West Virginia Legend
( 1863 - 1932)ISSAC T. MANN
Publshed: Bluefield Daily Telegraph - May 19, 1932
ISSAC T. MANN - BANKER
From Martha Jane Becker's book:"Bramwell - The Diary of a Millionaire Coal Town".... Isaac T. Mann was one of the most colorful characters who ever lived in Historic Bramwell. Born July 23, 1863 in Fort Springs, Greenbrier County, he began working as a teller in the Greenbrier Bank in Alderson, WV. He helped organize the Bank of Bramwell and subsequently became the president of the Pocahontas Fuel Company. Once in his colorful life he was offered the position of ambassador to Spain by President Collidge in 1928. Mr. Mann controlled a chain of nine prosperous banks and was president of he Pocahontas Fuel Company for thirty-five years. He was Pocahontas Fuel Company president for 35 years. A chain of nine banks was another of his many financial interests. His 1923 fortune was estimated at $18-$25 million. The next year he began to buy Chicago real estate,businesses, apartments and hotels. Before 1929, his property worth soared to $86 million to as much as $100 million: a fortune lost to the Depression, along with his health. Isaac T. Mann served as a delegate to the 1908 Republican national convention. He was a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1912. He maintained several homes in different states and was hit hard by the Great Depression. Mann’s business collapsed in 1929 at the beginning of the Depression. He died when he suffered a heart attack at age 68. He died in Washington, D. C. on May 8, 1932. Later that same year his son,William committed suicide at the age of 33.
It was said that Isaac T. Mann's business ethics were beyond reproach and he rose to become one of Bramwell's most prominent and respected citizens. His wife was Claudia "Vernie" Meyers Mann , They had two children, William and Alice. William died young at the age of 33. Daughter, Alice married and moved to Denver, Colorado. The USS West Virginia Battleship, which was the length of two football fields and stood eight stories high, was launched on November 19, 1921 and was sponsored by Alice Alice Wright Mann , daughter of West Virginia millionaire Isaac T. Mann.
Historic Bramwell's Isaac T. Mann was a Republican Delegate to the Republican National Convention from West Virginia in 1908 and 1916. He was a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1912.
The Bramwell Presbyterian Church was organized and built by I.T. Mann in 1890. The historic church was constructed using local bluestone. The first service was held in 1904 . The church is still used for services every Sunday.
In 1916, the Pocahontas Fuel Company opened a driftmine operation a short distance from the mouth of Barkers Creek. The president of Pocahontas, Isaac T. Mann, had 120 dwellings built to house his employees. This coal camp grew into the town of Itmann, which was named after Isaac T. Mann.
The Itmann Mine was first opened in 1918 by the Pocahontas Fuel Co. This mine was named after the president of the company, Issac T. Mann. During the 1950s and '60s it was reported to be the most productive mine in West Virginia. During the 1980s the Island Creek Coal Co. mined the Pocahontas No. 3 at Itamnn. The Itmann mine no longer operates.
From the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, May 19, 1932: The town of Bramwell was shaken by the deaths of two prominent citizens the same day. May 18, 1932, Jairus Collins was pronounced dead at his home in Bramwell at 7 p.m. by Dr. H. B. Luttrell, a well known local physician. Collins suffered from "myocarditis and endocarditis." The 72-year old Jairus, along with his brother Justus, were originally from Alabama but had established themselves in West Virginia as major operators in the sprawling Winding Gulf coal field. By 9:30 that same night, Isaac T. Mann had passed away at his Washington, D.C. home, after having been in ill health for over a year. The 68 year old Mann was president of Pocahontas Fuel Co. and was involved in dozens of other business ventures from the eastern United States to Mexico. A native of Greenbrier County, where he was a banker, Mann was later president of the Bank of Bramwell and sat on boards of a number of other banks regionally. He was a savvy investor whose interests included coal, railways, shipping, timbering and the development of at least one private golf club. Mann was one of the few native West Virginians to leave such a remarkable legacy of business investment, banking, political and social influence in the southern coal industry and beyond.
A Commercial Ship bearing Isaac Mann's name hauled his coal across the Atlantic Ocean to European markets.
The Issac Mann three-story turreted Bramwell Mansion displays a handsome staircase, ornate woodwork and special details such as a secret wall safe and a studded, leather-walled den. The curved porch follows the horseshoe curve of the Bluestone River it overlooks. Across the Bluestone River via a footbridge Isaac Mann built a house-size "playhouse" for his children and their governess. The house today is a private residence. Issac Mann also owned homes in Florida, Washington, D.C. (now the Turkish embassy), and on the Massachusetts coast.
Interesting Fact: West Virginia (Battleship No. 48) was laid down on 12 April 1920 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry-dock Co. of Newport News, VA.; reclassified to BB-48 on 17 July 1920, launched on 17 November 1921, sponsored by Miss Alice Wright Mann , daughter of Issac T. Mann, a prominent West Virginian, and commissioned on 1 December l923 with Captain Thomas J. Senn in command.
On Sunday, 7 December 1941, West Virginia lay moored outboard of Tennessee (BB-43) at berth F-6 with 40 feet of water beneath her keel. Shortly before 0800, Japanese planes, flying from a six-carrier task force, commenced their well-planned attack on the Fleet at Pearl Harbor. West Virginia took five 18-inch aircraft torpedoes in her port side and two bomb hits those bombs being 15-inch armor-piercing shells fitted with fins. The ship was sunk but later relocated and rebuilt. The West Virginia was sent to Puget Sound and remained there until 1944. The Mast of Battleship U.S.S. West Virginia now rest on the West Virginia University campus as a memorial to all those who gave their lives on the ship when it was sunk at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. ( West Virginia Battleship BB-48 information and text is partially from Navy History.com @: USSWest Virginia BB-48 )
U.S.S. WEST VIRGINIA - 1923
The Itmann Company Store and Office Building remains today and is located in Wyoming County, WV. The former Office is now the Itmann Homeless Shelter and the Store is vacant. It is named after Isaac T. Mann of Bramwell. Alex Manhood designed the building.
Photo by: Stephen J. Shaluta, Jr. - Wonderful West Virginia Magazine.
1863: I. T. Mann was born in Greenbrier County, WV.
1889: I.T. Mann had an apprenticeship at Greenbrier Valley Bank.
1901: I. T. Mann visited financier J. P. Morgan in New York.
1908: I. T. Mann served as a delegate to the Republican national convention.
1912: I. T. Mann was a candidate for the U.S. Senate.
1929: I. T. Mann's business empire collapsed at the onset of the Depression.
May 18, 1932: I. T. Mann died in Washington, DC.
Isaac Thomas Mann:
May 18, 1932: Industrialist
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, Isaaic T. Mann was one of the few native-born West Virginians to make a fortune in the southern coalfields.