Why are there so many ‘First’ banks, churches, etc

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You’ll see banks called “First National Bank of X”, or the “First Baptist Church of Y”. A bank or church, with the exact same name, will also exist somewhere else. I live and have traveled all over the US (specifically the Bible Belt) for years now and I’ve noticed this trend.

What gives? Maybe the answer is really obvious and I can’t put it together.

Edit: How come you almost never see the “Second National Bank/Church of X/Y”?

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19 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s because they were commonly the first of their kind to be established in a given area

As for why there’s (normally) no “second” (there are exceptions and also “third” and on) – I think that’s just really bad marketing. I think just having a name is much better. “Second” implies a first; you don’t want people finding you then going to find the first

Anonymous 0 Comments

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Anonymous 0 Comments

In the words of Ricky Bobby, if you’re not first you’re last.

I’m thinking it’s a marketing thing, why would you want your clients thinking their losing out.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Numerical/Alphabetical hierarchy. Back when phone books were a thing, 1 or 1st put you at the very beginning.

Pre-internet SEO basically.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s used most frequently in places where longevity implies trustworthiness. A bank that’s been around longer than any other is probably a bank that won’t disappear overnight with your money. Second and third (but not fifth third) are poor marketing, since they clearly imply someone superior, so you might as well go to that rival.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There aren’t many “Second Bank” or “Second Baptist Church” because … who would want to? I mean, kind of obvious maybe?

But I have seen a few “Second” banks and churches in my life, and even (I don’t remember where) a “Third Baptist” somewhere.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There have been and still are some second, third, fourth etc. banks in various places around the country, but a combination of name changes and mergers and whatnot made a lot of old bank names go away. Besides that, a lot of places with a first bank never were big enough to support a second or anything beyond.

The city I live in has multiple Christian Science branch churches and they are all numbered in order, but the first, second, and sixth have all closed. The remaining ones keep their original names of third through fifth.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I don’t have a comprehensive answer on churches, but I know exactly what happened with banks.

In the US, the concept of a “National Bank” originated in the 1860s. We had banks before that, but they weren’t particularly regulated by the government (or safe). The National Bank Act required the inclusion of the word “National” in the bank name to indicate it was part of the National Banking System.

Often, the first national bank to open in a particular area might call themselves “The First National Bank of Cleveland,” to distinguish themselves from all those other lesser non-National banks. I believe that “Second National Bank of…” was not unheard of (and third and fourth and so on) but in general, as noted earlier, do you want to bank with the SECOND bank? So over time, those tended to go out of business, get bought, or get renamed.

Then, after enough time, it was just kind of a tradition to include “First National” in banking names.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Banks named themselves in the order that they were formed.

At one point in Cincinnati there was the 5th National Bank and the 3rd national bank. The two merged and became named the Fifth Third Bank.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_Third_Bank

Anonymous 0 Comments

One explanation for churches is that they want to establish themselves as being a part of the “first church” that would’ve been established during and shortly after Jesus’s ministry.