1917 DIRECTORY

Glen Telephone Company

"... when Bell stood in a dingy workshop in Boston and heard the clang of a clock-spring come over an electric wire, who could have foreseen the massive structure of the Bell System, built up by half the telephones of the world, and by the investment of more actual capital than has gone to the making of any other industrial association? Who could have foreseen what the telephone bells have done to ring out the old ways and to ring in the new; to ring out delay, and isolation and to ring in the efficiency and the friendliness of a truly united people?"

Extracted from: "The History of the Telephone," by Herbert N. Casson, 1910



Early History of the Telephone

        After the invention of the telephone in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell, a monopoly of the telephone industry was held by a small group of businesses that controlled manufacturing patents. One of these companies included the Bell Company.  In 1881, these businesses had consolidated into one group which formed the original backbone of the AT&T and Bell Telephone systems known today. This business group concentrated primarily on the large urban areas in order to maximize their profits. In 1885 AT&T was orgnanized as the parent company of Bell Telephone and focused on making long distance telephone calls possible.

        In 1894, the key patents held by the monopoly expired and independent manufacturers and service providers were finally able to enter the market.  In time these independent companies began to provide telephone services to the rural communities.  However, this also allowed local farmers and entrepreneurs using local money and labor to install and provide telephone services to their own communities. Thus many small ventures started up and failed or succeeded in the rural communities.

        In the meantime, AT&T continued its work at providing long distance telephone service and by 1913 was offering the independent telephone companies access to its long distance lines in exchange for their emergence into the Bell Telephone network. In January 1915, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson "re-enacted" their first telephone conversation for the Pan Am Exposition in San Francisco. However, this time Mr. Bell was in NY and Mr. Watson was in CA! In the following September of 1915 a call was placed by the President of AT&T from NY to Hawaii using the first wireless transmitter!

        The early telephone systems included a "toll" trunk line from a switchboard in the small community to a more distant exchange.  Within the local community there would be a local loop or access line connecting the subscriber to the local switchboard, and, of course, each subscriber would require the necessary telephone equipment at their own location.

        Although many of the small independent telephone companies failed or were bought out, some still survive and are prospering today. One such company is located in Herkimer county, that of the Newport Telephone Company: Corporate History. A good brief history of the independent telephone companies' competition and mutual cooperation with the Bell Telephone Network is found under the United States Telephone Association's site: A Brief History

Other excellent sites providing further details of the history of the telephone:

The American Experience- a PBS site
Role of Farmer Lines in the Early History of the Telephone Industry in the US - a NWU site
History of the Telephone - a personal hobby site by David Massey which includes the full, lengthy and interesting text of The History of the Telephone, by Herbert N. Casson, 1910.



Early History of the Telephone in Hamilton County

       In Hamilton county the towns of Benson, Hope and Wells presumably had telephone service earlier than the rest of the county due to the fact that they were closer to the larger population centers of Fulton county. The first attempt at connecting the county seat to the rest of the world by telephone was made as early as 1900 when the local telegraph line that connected Wells to Lake Pleasant was converted to telephone. In 1901 the County Clerk's office received it's first telephone and the Wells & Lake Pleasant telephone service was connected to the Wells & Northville Telephone Company. The community of Indian Lake installed their first telephone system about 1909. By 1912, Peter Weaver had installed Lake Pleasant's first local telephone system which apparently connected with the line to Wells as well as to several subscribers in Lake Pleasant, Speculator and Piseco and later to other communities. In 1913 the Long Lake Telephone Company was incorporated and serviced the Long Lake village community with extensions to several nearby communities. The Blue Mountain Lake Telephone Company installed it's first local telephone system in 1919. In 1924, the towns of Arietta and Morehouse contracted with the Ohio Telephone Company for telephone service in their communities.

Primary source:  "History of Hamilton County," Ted Aber and Stella King, Great Wilderness Books, 1965.



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Copyright © 2000 The Quad County Coordinators
Fulton: Jeanette Shiel
Hamilton: Lisa Slaski
Herkimer and Montgomery: Martha Magill
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