The History of Alexander Black




Alexander Black

(April 30, 1857 – March 27, 1935)

Alexander Black with his wife, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Kent Otey Black
and daughter, Mary Louise Black



Alexander Black was the second son of Dr. Harvey and Mary (Irby Kent) Black. He had two brothers, Kent Black (1853-1909) and Charles White Black (1859-1925), and one sister, Lizzie Arabella Elizabeth Black (1855-1942). Alexander’s father Harvey was the first rector of the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Virginia Tech) Board of Visitors.


Alexander married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Kent Otey on October 4, 1881. Although they had no biological children, they adopted a daughter Mary Louise Black (1890-1918), who died without any children of her own.

Alexander entered VAMC in the 1872-1873 session, and achieved the rank of Cadet Sergeant in 1874-1875. He was initiated into Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity on April 18, 1874, and served as the chapter President in 1876.

Once he finished his education, Alexander established a mercantile firm called Black & Payne (with Charles K. Payne), and he was a senior partner in Black & Logan (dry goods) and Luster-Black hardware Company. In the early 1900s, A. Black, Company (dry good, ladies' outfitters, millinery, staple and fancy groceries) operated on Main Street, the same building that houses Mad Dog, a women's clothing store. When these businesses were well established, Alexander founded the Bank of Blacksburg, known today as National Bank of Blacksburg. The Commonwealth of Virginia issued a charter to the new bank on May 21, 1891. Soon afterward, the bank began to do business from one room of the Green Hotel on Main Street. The bank’s only employee, W.E. Hubbert, was paid a yearly salary of $500.

Some dates of note for the bank:

May 21, 1892 —The Bank of Blacksburg had assets of $21,011.72, reported a profit of $902.27, and declared a 12% dividend to stockholders.

May 1898—The Bank moved a few doors south on Main Street to the Conway Building and conducted business out of a converted storeroom.

1898 – Its first telephone was installed.

1904 – Purchased its first adding machine.

1906 – Installed a burglar alarm system and a vault.

1921 – Moved to a new building on the corner of Main and Roanoke Streets, which is now occupied by Capone’s Jewelry.

1922 – Was re-chartered as a national bank with assets of $485,000.

Alexander received a letter dated November 5, 1926 from a friend, H.D. Ribble of Mount Hope, West Virginia. Ribble mentions that he is also a childless widower (Black’s wife died 1925) and talks of time moving quickly and old men such as them stepping aside for the younger generations who will have aspirations, but be blind to the lessons of time.

His legacy, however, lives on as one of the citizens who helped to make Blacksburg a Special Place.

All Rights Reserved