EARLY CALHOUN PHONE COMPANIES - Independent Operations Covered Most Of County By 1900

(02/21/2014)

By Bob Weaver

One of the earliest photographs of Grantsville about 1880 show telephone and telegraph lines on Main Street.

Alexander Graham Bell's new fangled telephone came to the hills and hollers of Calhoun, with several independent phone companies springing up in most communities by 1900.

The crank'em up phones became a major form of communication.

An inquiry from the West Virginia Auditor's Office in 1906 was attempting to obtain information regarding the parties, owners and numbers on telephone lines.

Beyond systems at Grantsville, Big Bend, Hur, Big Springs and White Pine the inquiry listed:

Arnoldsburg-Doddrell Telephone Company

State and Doddrell Telephone Company

S. J. Wayne Telephone Company

Dr. Lowe and Ralph Bennett Telephone Company

Farmer's Telephone Line

Former Calhoun native James C. Haught recalled the operations as a "usually poor" system.

"My aunt Margaret Whytsel Schoolcraft was the operator in Arnoldsburg for a number of years. We were visiting her one night. A call came in with the person wanting to speak to one of the Laughlin's."

"Aunt Mag ask if it was an emergency. The people on other end of the line said it was not to which Aunt Meg said, "They go to bed early. It is 9:00 P.M. and I am not going to disturb them."

"In another instance a now prominent citizen of Calhoun County who shall remain nameless was filling out his application to West Virginia University. In the space for telephone number he wrote: Two longs and a short."

"Eaves dropping was also a problem. Since you knew nearly every one;s ring you could pick up the phone and listen in on their conversation. When this was done there was a drop in power. It was difficult to hear," Haught concluded.


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