Joseph A. Williams or "Uncle Joe" (b. ca. 1874) was a professor of Geography at Appalachian State Teacher's College from 1924 to 1945. He graduated from Wake Forest College in 1901 and received his Masters Degree from Columbia University in 1916. He worked as a school principal and superintendent in multiple North Carolina public schools from 1901 until 1924. His wife Florence was a public school teacher.
Watauga County Bank, Watauga County's first bank, organized in Boone, North Carolina in September 1904 with H.L. Mast as president. The second bank was Bank of Blowing Rock and was soon followed by the Bank of Valle Crucis. By October 1905, deposits had reached $200,000. In 1915, it considered opening a branch in Todd; however, that was not supported by the Corporation Commission chairman. By 1921, several additional banks estabilished in Boone. These include the Bank of Boone, the Peoples Bank and Trust Company, and the Watauga Building and Loan Association. During the Great Depression, a great deal of change occurred in Watauga County banking. In 1931, the Bank of Blowing Rock closed, Watauga County Bank's resources dropped $135,000, and the North Carolina General Assembly set up a Commissioner of Banks to have regulatory powers over the state's banks. The federal government then required all banks to close in 1933, and the Federal Reserve Board was reorganized to prevent another depression. Shortly afterwards, the Bank of Blowing Rock and the Watuga County Bank reopened with B.B. Dougherty, the president of Appalachian Teachers College, replacing N.L. Mast as Watauga County Bank president for two years. In 1934, the Watauga County Bank became a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Due to financial difficulties, the Bank of Blowing Rock closed and merged with the Watauga County Bank. In 1937, Watauga County's only remaining bank merged with Merchants and Farmers Bank of Bakersville and Burnsville, the Deposit and Savings Bank of North Wilkesboro, and the Bank of Sparta to form the Northwestern Bank. In 1985, Northwestern Bank later merged with First Union National Bank, which subsequently merged with Wachovia Bank in 2001.