Arms Across Georgia: The Story of Telephony in Georgia and the Georgia Telephone Association (1987)

The Story of Telephony in Georgia
and the Georgia Telephone Association
A History of Telephony in the
State of Georgia and of the
Georgia Telephone Association
By Carolyn J. Stewart
P.O. Box 400
2000 Industrial Boulevard
Cornelia, Georgia
GEORGIA Uelepkone ^^iocUUton
(404) 321-5440
Dear Friends:
When the telephone was in its infancy, there were a few dedicated people
who had the foresight to envision the telephone as it is used today. With
little or no capital and very limited experience, these people forged into
and unknown and untried field with inexhaustable determination. They
were and are the backbone of our country. Their perseverance and dedi-
cation should be acknowledged.
It is for these generations past and the generations in the future that we
feel it is important to preserve the story of telephony in this state. The
significance of this book is not only to protect the past, but also to re-
mind us to maintain that same dedication to our future endeavors.
The advances of the telephone and its related fields since those early days
are enormous, but even more astonishing is the fact that we have only
begun to scratch the surface. With the same dedication as those who have
gone before us, we can achieve things inconceivable to us now.
In preserving the industry's origins we hope we will inspire the men and
women of the telephone industry to aspire to even greater achievements
by following the ideals left for us. With hard work and a dedication to
excellence we will maintain our position as the most technologically
sophisticated country in the world.
Very truly yours.
(Mrs.) Betty A. Gleaton
President - Georgia Telephone Association
Many telephone companies and individuals were willing to join in this endeavor
by searching for information and taking the time to complete their histories which
collectively depict the evolution of telephony in the state of Georgia. In addition,
the staff at the Georgia Telephone Association office provided assistance.
There are some wonderful people at Standard Telephone Company without whom
I could never have completed this project. First, Mr. Standard Telephone Company
himself, H. M. Stewart, Sr., whose keen mind and well kept records are the largest
part of the reference material. Sally Welborn, Clara Martin, Kay Shore, Deborah
Wright, and Glenda Boling either typed, rewrote or proofed and Kay and Sally did
all three. A special bouquet goes to my familyMilt, Jeb, and Jill for their understan-
ding during this project.
Colonel Bob Alford (Georgia Public Service Commission) and J. F. Callaham
(Southern Bell) now retired, troubled themselves to bring and to mail a great deal
of information to me; I am sure in large part because of their high regard for their
friends who caused the arms of telephony to reach across Georgia.
A special thank you to all of you who were so generous with your help and support.
I love old things. I love old houses, dusty trunks, funny hats, sweet old people, old
telephone books, and... the way whatever happened to those old wooden wall telephones? One comes
upon it suddenly, the realization that old things are gone. They depart in swift shadows
and time, like ice, melts away. Perhaps more important than things are treasured
memories. And just as important is listening to others as they joyfully ramble through
their memories.
The subject of memories brings a welcome invitation to journey to bygone days when
those wooden telephones were in full use hanging on the wall, when stove pipes need-
ed oiling, when kids seldom wore shoes and friends were made without even trying.
Dreams came and went while somewhere near the courthouse square a telephone
operator kept vigil over all that happened and not far from her the telephones vibrated
and jingled with the cranking of the handles and those were the days.
The telephone industry is relatively new, and there is a
wonderful, invisible scrapbook of the legend of its development
that exists in the memories of some of our earliest pioneers.
I think they too loved old things, those who wanted this
telephone heritage recorded. We are in an age of collecting
things from the past. Perhaps others realize the uniqueness
of the telephony industry.
If these historical accounts do not add pages to your own
scrapbook of memories, we hope that they bring joy and pride
that will hold a special place in your heart, that you are
a part of an industry that came like a
comet and still flares.

In the noth anniversary year of the invention of the telephone, the 1985-86 officers
and directors of the Georgia Telephone Association took the steps that prompted this
publication. The move was in response to a growing concern that the history of the
Association and the individual telephone companies in Georgia be preserved and was
further motivated by a nationwide preservation campaign by the historical committee
(headed by Joe Keating, Jr.Thorpe, Wisconsin) of the Independent Telephone Pioneer
When approached to head up the project, I accepted with reluctance, having some
feeling for the enormity of the job. However, the difficulty of assembling an accurate
historical narrative was offset by the enthusiasm and encouragement displayed by each
individual with whom I spoke about the project or called upon for assistance.
The timeliness of this historical project is evidenced by the rapid change that has
taken place in the telephone industry in just a few short years, a change at least partial-
ly caused by the breakup of the Bell system and the push by regulatory bodies to in-
crease competition in telecommunications.
As this story began to take shape, the intention was to present a broader scope of
the industry in Georgia, but it became apparent that full development was not feasible.
The non-independent company story, while closely intertwined, was a separate, exciting
story. On the other hand, the puzzle is not complete without all the parts. A Georgia
Telephone Association history should therefore be centered on the Cinderella story
of the independents. In doing so, we regret that a significant part of the storythe
extraordinary leadership and the accomplishments of the larger companiesare not
adequately portrayed.
Every effort was made to ensure that the basic material in this publication is correct.
Regretfully, however, many early pioneers and trailblazers are no longer with us and,
with their passing, has gone masses of information and verification. Still, it is surpris-
ing how much good evidence remains. We will be amply rewarded for our efforts if
the industry is viewed with fresh eyes and if we all have a greater appreciation for the
early telephone pioneers and for the way the telephone has changed our lives.
This work is presented with the hope that the Arms Across Georgia will not only
bring to mind the actual wooden bar, known as the crossarm, at the top of the pole
but will be a symbol of the early pioneering spirit that will continue to embrace and
uplift those who make up the telephone family of Georgia.
So that we may preserve that spirit and continue to learn from the past, we must
be assured that records are preserved. What follows is an attempt to do just that. As
we begin our sojourn into the history of telephony in Georgia, it is appropriate that
we first salute the umbilical story of the inventor and the weathered watchmen who
introduced the transmission of intelligence to America.
Arms Across Georgia
Part One
THE BIRTH OF TELEPHONY...............................12
Part Two
TELEPHONY IN GEORGIA.................................20
Part Three
GEORGIA TELEPHONE ASSOCIATION...........................88
Part Four
Part Five
Part One
The telephone carried its first complete sentence when Bell,
about to test the transmitter shown on the table, inadvertently
spilled some acid and called to his assistant, Mr. Watson,
come here, I want you!" Thomas A. Watson, thinking it a test
message, rushed in saying, Mr. Bell, I heard every word you
The Birth
Of Telephony
More than a few inventors were
scrambling to present the first voice
simulators. Names such as Elisha Gray,
Daniel Drawbaugh, A. E. Dolbear, and
Thomas Edison were prominent in the
quest. Among pioneer contributors in
the field, the most well-known was Alex-
ander Graham Bell.
Bell, who was born in Edinburgh,
Scotland, on March 3,1847, was a man
of great talent, curiosity and education,
also he possessed instinctively inventive
reasoning. At his funeral on August 4,
1922, telephones all over the world re-
mained silent for one minute in remem-
brance of this remarkable inventor. The
Bell Company is a lasting monument to
its namesake for one of the greatest
discoveries of all times.
Although the principle of the instru-
ment we now know as the telephone was
patented by Bell in early 1876, history
reveals the idea may have existed as ear-
ly as 1858. It is reported that about that
time an article appeared in a scientific
journal published in France which sug-
gested the possibilities of electro-
mechanically reproducing the human
voice. We are further told that a copy
of this article fell into the hands of a Ger-
man by the name of Philip Reis who set
to work trying to fabricate such a con-
traption. It is said that by 1860 he had
developed an apparatus that would
transmit unintelligible sound waves
which seems to have been the limit of
his achievement. That models of the
Reis set were later found as far away as
New York City is evidenced in the fact
that the Amos Dolbear instrument,
which was used by the Western Union
Telegraph Company about 1879, was
said to have been patterned after the
Reis design. Since it appears the
Western Union Telegraph Company was
The next years were devoted to
developing, financing, and defending the
invention. Perhaps the most formidable
threat Bell and his associates experienc-
one of the first to introduce this new
means of communication to the state of
Georgia, it is likely that the Reis-Dolbear
instruments were among the first to
come our way.
In the meantime, the years of con-
certed and unswerving dedication on the
part of Bell were crowned with one of
the most notable breakthroughs in
scientific history. He accomplished what
others of his time had failed to achieve.
On March 7, 1876, he received a valid
certificate from the United States Patent
Office that withstood repeated and per-
sistent legal efforts to disqualify or
With the help of financial backers,
Americas first telephone company was
organized in August, 1877, as the Bell
Telephone Company. Later it was
renamed National Bell Telephone Com-
pany and then became American Bell
Telephone Company.
Early plant construction
Aerial lineman (AT&T).
ed came from the Western Union
Telegraph Company which earlier reject-
ed an opportunity to purchase the orig-
inal Bell patents. Already criss-crossing
most of the continent'with wires, in-
cluding line switching devices and ex-
tensions to large business establish-
ments, Western Union undertook to
fabricate its own transmitting and receiv-
ing apparatus.
Such facilities allowed Western Union
in 1879 to open the first three major
commercial exchanges of significant size
in the state of Georgia, all of which
would later become the property of the
Bell system.
The courts had ruled the Western
Union telephone device to be an in-
fringement on Bells patent. The suit
ended in mutual commitment. Although
oversimplified here. Bell and his asso-
ciates acquired all of Western Unions
voice communication facilities and
agreed to refrain from further develop-
ment in telegraphy and Western Union
agreed to stay out of the telephone
Agreeable settlement of the Western
Union Telegraph versus Bell Telephone
case gave the Bell patent owners and
promoters a badly needed economic
boost but other industry problems would
continue to confront them.
In 1882 the Bell interests acquired the
stock in the Western Electric Manufac-
turing Company and reorganized it
primarily as a telephone and telegraph
equipment company, and the renown-
ed American Telephone and Telegraph
Company was formed as the parent com-
pany. The American Telephone and
Telegraph Company would advance to
become the worlds largest corporate
Independent America
The Bell company had envisioned, in
the interest of the public, one large com-
pany providing efficient telephone ser-
vice to the exclusion of all other com-
panies. Bell continued a strong battle
against intrusion on the patent rights
which protected them. The small com-
panies that erupted in Georgia and all
over the United States were a serious
threat to this monopoly concept.
However, the lack of time and money
caused the Bell company to avoid
development in dubiously profitable
areas; therefore, attention was focused
on major cities of the United States.
During that period, untelephoned
rural areas needed communications for
a more comfortable and safe existence
and for relief from the monotony of life.
Eagerness and the crusted habit of pro-
viding for themselves led pioneers to
begin to set up their own connections
in the natural birthplace of independent
telephonyrural America. In-
dependents was the name given to
these non-Bell companies.
The Competition Intensifies
No formulas, maps or charts were
available by which this highly complex
and intricate telephone machine and its
application could be charted. This left
the gate open for opportunist in the
field. Briefly, the babe that was to
become the worlds industrial giant had
to spend its swaddling years fighting off
infringers on the right with one hand
while charting a course through
unknown and unfnendly waters with the
other. Impeded by these and other
deterrents, the Bell system was unable
to keep pace with mushrooming
demands for the new convenience. Con-
sequently, by the time the initial Bell
patents began to expire in the early
1890s, competing telephone manufac-
turing firms began to spring up across
the continent. Within a few years
thousands of telephone systems, financ-
ed independently of the Bell system and
using non-Bell manufactured apparatus,
dotted the landscape. This is the pro-
cess through which virtually all non-Bell
telephone exchanges and systems in
Georgia came into existence.
A.T.& T. Company Plant
ConstructionAerial Lineman.
Numerous stories of emotional reac-
tion came out of this era of intense com-
petition. One such story relates that
often a company erected a line of poles
one day to find them on the ground the
next morning, having been cut down by
the rival company overnight. Another
story implies that Bell companies
dumped and burned on the town square
non-Bell telephones which they had
In the general course of expansion,
the Bell organization began to try to
penetrate the less-populated areas. Their
effort was simply a matter of purchas-
ing the small companies and assuming
the territory. A high tide of feeling
against attempted monopoly of the in-
dustry resulted in an organized
resistance to the drift in that direction.
Although the full scope and effect of
competition was not felt in Georgia, one
of the most disturbing contests involv-
ed the Consolidated Telephone &
Telegraph Company of Moultrie. The
Moultrie Company had been operating
unprofitably in several small towns and
had gone into receivers sale of the pro-
perties. James L. Kirk, an independent
telephone company operator, of Ar-
cadia, Florida, made the unsuccessful
bid of $70,000 and another bidder, the
Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph
Company, bid $80,000; Kirk bid
$85,000 and Southern Bell bid $86,000
which was accepted. Shortly afterwards.
Mr. Kirk was checking out of his hotel
to return home when he was approach-
ed and asked if he would honor his final
bid. The last bid by the Bell Company
had been conditional and resulted in
purchase by Mr. Kirk. The Kirk family
disposed of their Florida holdings and
moved to Georgia where they became
one of the most prominent telephone
families in the state at that time. At the
time of Mr. Kirks death it was said that
he had pioneered the largest family own-
ed telephone company in the United
The independents can be credited
with expediting and developing
telephone service in the United States
by filling in the gap of areas that Bell
could not have reached economically in
the same time span. By 1900 there were
855,900 telephones in the Bell system,
and there were over 700,000 telephones
being operated by more than 5,000 in-
dependent telephone companies.
The Bell companys vigorous cam-
paign to telephone the United States
caused a leap in the nations overall pro-
gress. The rendezvous with competitive
independents and independent
manufacturing companies helped to ac-
celerate those advancements.
Holding Companies
In 1894 a new trend in telephone
company ownership advanced, engrav-
ing fresh footprints in the independent
industry. Holding companies was the
name given to distinguish these major
non-Bell telephone companies by the
large telephone properties they amassed.
As previously mentioned, the industry
had divided itself into two segments: Bell
companies and non-Bell companies (in-
dependents). With the new type of
ownership there then became a new
language separating the non-Bell com-
panies. In the vernacular of the industry
there were now: AT&Ts Bell com-
panies; large independent holding com-
panies; and small, closely-held indepen-
dent companies although all non-Bell
companies were still independents.
That is the language used in this
writing since these were still in effect
during most of the subject matter.
Holding companies entered the arena
with an aggressive program of
The bitter and costly contest which
prevailed was said to have been further
triggered by the Bell systems refusal to
connect with equipment and apparatus
not manufactured and supplied by it. In
other words, an independent exchange
using non-Bell equipment could not ob-
tain long distance or other connection
with a Bell owned or controlled
Since Bell operations were largely
Discussing telephone topics; (L-R) A. A. Fincher,
H. M. Stewart. {Back L*R) W. C, Martin and J. E. Kirk.
confined to big cities and the in-
dependents to smaller, outlying com-
munities, promoters were quick to seize
the opportunity created by this impasse.
Bell companies responded by setting up
competing facilities in independent
towns and offering service at lower rates,
and the fight was on. Before the patent
expired, Atlanta had dual telephone ser-
vice of this type.
Earl Kidd, director of operations for
the Walker County Telephone Company
Early switchboard at Lafayette exchange.
Walker County Telephone Company.
and an authentic telephone pioneer with
a noble standing in the Peach State
Chapter of the Independent Telephone
Pioneer Association, commented on the
then-controversial subject.
AT&Ts non-interconnection
policy towards independents re-
mained steadfast throughout the
early years of the twentieth cen-
tury. At that time, such a position
generally was legal and also seem-
ed to be logical from a business
viewpoint. Why should AT&T give
away its biggest advantage over
independentsaccess to long
distance lines?
The answer to the above question
slowly emerged and gained the
ascendancy in the consciousness
of the American people: the con-
cept of the telephone company as
a public utility, with service in the
public interest placed ahead of
AT&T, mindful of the tendency
elsewhere in the world for govern-
ment takeovers of telephone ser-
vice, began to come around to the
public service viewpoint. In 1904,
yielding to increasing demands by
independents for long distance
phone access, various state
legislatures began passing laws
mandating interconnection with
compensation to AT&T for leas-
ing its long distance service to the
As early as September 3, 1904,
Walker County Telephone Company
signed a contract for Bell to connect
long distamce to the local system.
It eventually became evident that
(L-R) E. P. Burney, owner Walker
County Telephone Company,
and Earl Kidd, Director of Operations.
maintaining dual telephone systems
within the same community was very
poor business. In spite of competing
rates, it imposed unnecessary cost and
inconvenience. Most business and many
residential establishments had to main-
tain service with both companies in
order to obtain desired coverage. Both
companies were losing potential toll
revenue, and there were indications that
Bell companies were being victimized by
speculators who installed competing
telephone systems, milked them for
several years, and then sold them to the
Bell company for their real value plus
a sizeable nuisance gratuity. These and
other considerations led AT&T to the
Kingsbury Commitment and the agree-
ment to connect with non-Bell manufac-
tured equipment. This agreement was
followed by broad scale consolidations,
mergers, and sales until the last com-
peting system, the Keystone Company
of Philadelphia, was absorbed by
Pennsylvania Bell in the mid-1940s.
To Understanding
Competition between the in-
dependents and AT&T was eventually
resolved by the Kingsbury Commitment.
In 1913, AT&T Vice President Nathan
Kingsbury sent a letter to the Attorney
General committing to
1. dispose of its Western Union
2. change its policy on acquisi-
tions of independent telephone
3. interconnect its Bell system
long distance lines with the in-
dependent companies under cer-
tain conditions. (This interconnect
treaty provided lucrative toll line
settlements to some companies.)
Still, some defiance of a monopolistic
attitude continued as independents
claimed there were violations of the
commitment, the most important being
accusations that the Bell company con-
tinued to acquire independent proper-
ties, selecting the cream of the crop.
In order to preserve the trust, the Hall
Memorandum, a letter recommitting to
the policies set down by Kingsbury, was
issued in 1922 by E. K. Hall, Vice Presi-
dent of AT&T. These agreements are
acknowledged as major factors in the
prosperous evolution of the independent
industry as with them the image of
monopoly was laid to rest.
(Authors Note: According to some
reports, there were approved, valid ex-
ceptions made to the rule on acquisi-
tions; one being the Pine Mountain
facilities in Harris County, Georgia. I was
told that the prominent Callaway fami-
ly, of the well-known Callaway resort
area, believed that the telephone system
there was inadequate because it con-
sisted mostly of rurcJ lines. The
Callaways bought the system but did not
have the inclination or experience to
operate it. In order to have efficient
telephone service, they asked that an ex-
ception be made so that the Bell com-
pany could acquire the Pine Mountciin
service area.)
In more recent years Bells indepen-
dent relations program has played a role
in bridging the gap and building a band
of unity and strength withinthe industry.
Independents Contributions
To The Industry
The independent telephone industry
is acknowledged as having made
outstanding contributions and im-
provements to the industry. Among the
most noteworthy are:
Automatic switching system
First commercial application of dial
Handset type telephone
First direct long distance operator
Second automatic ticketing system
Full feature manual switchboard
Heat coil type central office protection
Plastic insulation
Self-contained desk telephones
Straightforward trunking between cen-
tral offices
Universal line and cord circuits
Harmonic (ten party full selective)
Color Telephones
Retractable cords
Coin collect device for public telephones
Cordless telephone
Spinner method of lashing aerial cable
Leap In Progress
It has been said that no man can pro-
claim himself the inventor of the
automobile, and it may also be true of
the telephone. The telephone like the
automobile has reached its present state
of proficiency through the visionary im-
provement of many contributors.
Outstanding among the many others
that have shaped and improved our in-
dustry, following the patent, are inven-
tors Almon Brown Strowger and
Thomas A. Edison. The Strowger switch
radically changed telephone switching.
It was an electric switch that allowed
controlled automatic connecting. The
final essential element for the first
satisfactorily-working telephones was
something called a viable-contact carbon
transmitter, due in large measure to
Edison, in 1877. Any telephone pioneer
will tell you that this carbon transmit-
ter can be credited with making the
telephone practical.
Not least among telephony landmarks
is the establishment of the Rural Elec-
trification Administration (REA) loan
program. It has had a primary role in
the movement of rural telephony in
The entrance of many other great
people into the field of telephony regret-
fully cannot be included in these
margins, but their roles have left us with
a lofty heritage.
In the yecirs that have elapsed since
the birth of Alexander Graham Bells
talking machine, telephone companies
working hand-in-hand have laced the
continent with cables, optic fibers,
microwaves, and satellite circuits to build
and develop a communications system
for the nation. Telephone communica-
tions have brought the people of the
world and the industry closer together.
In addition, telephony has provided an
economic stimulus and a legion of
employment almost without comparison.
The national and state associations
have contributed much to bring har-
mony out of the discord that accom-
panied the industry to its prosperity. The
strength of the individuals in the state
and national organizations came
together to further the common interest
of all.
New pages of history began in 1984
when a divestiture ruling by Harold H.
Greene, Judge, U. S. District Court,
District of Columbia, separated the Bell
companies from AT&T.
It can be said that the healthy rivalry
among the segments of telephony has
left a record of respect that makes us
all friendly competitors as we now face
a restructured telecommunications
This section on Bell and the national
telephone picture shall serve as an in-
troduction to the following history of
telephony in the state of Georgia.
Part Two

Telephony In Georgia
It is extraordinary that there were
telephones in Georgia as early as 1877,
considering the fact that the telephone
patent was granted in 1876 and would
not expire until circa 1894.
Available information about these first
voice circuits in our state tells us that
in addition to the Bell company,
Western Union and holding companies,
there were several other types of opera-
tions: small independent telephone com-
panies operating with equipment leased
from the Bell company, small indepen-
dent companies operating with non-Bell
company equipment, and limited en-
trepreneurial alliances (sometimes con-
fined to two or three telephones).
The companies functioning with
telephones leased from the Bell com-
pany were a result of efforts by Bell to
rapidly distribute their telephone ap-
paratus across the nation. Lacking the
proper financing or other means for ac-
celerated expansion, they sought in-
dividuals who would set up telephone
management systems using Bell equip-
ment under contract or lease terms.
Such arrangements were considered ex-
changes of the Bell company. Southern
Bell, one of Georgias earliest telephone
enterprises, originated in this manner.
Today there are approximately 1,426
telephone companies operating in the
United States, 39 of which provide
telephone service for the state of
Georgia. On the next page is a list of
those Georgia companies.
Most of the listed companies are
members of the Georgia Telephone
Association (GTA), an umbrella
organization for the unity, advancement
and refinement of the telephone industry
in Georgia. These 39 companies repre-
sent the wide diversity of ownership and
management known to the industry.
AT&T and Southern Bell, recently
Georgia Telephone Pioneers
Top row (L-R) Jim Evitt, Downing Musgrove, Manager General Telephone
CompanyFitzgerald, Ga., Cam Lanier. Sr., H. M. Stewart. Sr.. Aubrey
Sikes, Charlie Deloach, Mr. Linburger, Jim Callaham, H. W. Vaughn. Arthur
A. Fincher, Ernie KirkFront row (L-R) Gene Britt, Madison New, Jimmie
Gleaton, H. C. Hearn.
separated by divestiture ruling, are the
two largest providers of communications
technology for the state. GTE, CON-
TEL, ALLTEL, would be next on a list
of Georgia telephone companies by size.
These independent companies are
grouped together because they repre-
sent what is known in the industry, as
holding companies. All other Georgia
telephone companies, most of which are
small when likened to those just men-
tioned, would fall in the category of what
we have described as independents.
Telephone companies representing
each of the forms of ownership appeared
on the scene in Georgia very early in the
telephone chronicles.
Some of the independent telephone
companies in Georgia today are still in
the hands of the descendants of early
telephone pathfinders. With the excep-
tion of the named large companies and
co-operatives (co-ops are membership
owned independent companies very
much like rural electric associations),
most other Georgia telephone com-
panies are family-owned and operated.
Family ownership, pioneer struggles and
individual and collective ac-
complishments have brought a great
deal of well deserved pride to Georgia
The history of the telephone industry
in our state is a story of unproclaimed
great men and women who pioneered
a voice communication industry through
periods of ice storm destruction,
economic depression, and other adver-
sities. Over the span of years the
telephone industry has matured and un-
folded into an enterprise poised for the
uncertainty of the information age.
Research material on the state of
Georgia gives information on early
railroads, agriculture, industry, and
almost every aspect of pertinent infor-
mation but leaves bare traces of early
telephone development in our state.
ALLTEL Corporation
Alma Telephone Company, Inc.
Blue Ridge Telephone Company
Brantley Telephone Company, Inc.
Bulloch County Rural Tele. Coop., Inc.
Camden Telephone & Telegraph Co., Inc.
Chickamauga Telephone Corporation
Citizens Telephone Company, Inc.
Coastal Utilities, Inc.
Continental Telephone Co. of the South (CONTEL)
Darien Telephone Company, Inc.
Ellijay Telephone Company
Empire Telephone Company
Fairmount Telephone Company, Inc.
General Telephone Company of the Southeast (GTE)
Georgia Telephone Corporation
Glenwood Telephone Company
Hart County Telephone Company
Hawkinsville Telephone Company
Interstate Telephone Company
Nelson-Ball Ground Telephone Company
Pembroke Telephone Company, Inc.
Pineland Telephone Cooperative, Inc.
Plant Telephone and Power Company
Planters Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc.
Progressive Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc.
Public Service Telephone Company
Quincy Telephone Co. (TDS)
Ringgold Telephone Company
Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Company
St. Joseph Telephone & Telegraph Company
Standard Telephone Company
Statesboro Telephone Company
Trenton Telephone Company
Walker County Telephone Company
Waverly Hall Telephone Company, Inc.
Wilkes Telephone & Electric Company
Wilkinson County Telephone Company, Inc.
Commerce, Georgia
Alma, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Blue Ridge, Georgia
Nahunta, Georgia
Statesboro, Georgia
St. Marys, Georgia
Chickamauga, Georgia
Leslie, Georgia
Hinesville, Georgia
Glennville, Georgia
Darien, Georgia
Ellijay, Georgia
Comer, Georgia
Fairmount, Georgia
Moultrie, Georgia
Blakely, Georgia
Glenwood, Georgia
Hartwell, Georgia
Hawkinsville, Georgia
West Point, Georgia
Nelson, Georgia
Pembroke, Georgia
Metter, Georgia
Tifton, Georgia
Newington, Georgia
Rentz, Georgia
Reynolds, Georgia
Quincy, Georgia
Ringgold, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Port St. Joe, Florida
Cornelia, Georgia
Statesboro, Georgia
Trenton, Georgia
Lafayette, Georgia
Waverly Hall, Georgia
Washington, Georgia
Irwinton, Georgia
Judge Emrey speaking to a GTA meeting in Atlanta.
Seated (L-R) Gene Britt, Joe StoneVice President Southern Bell,
J, F. Callaham.
It is publications from within the field
of telephony that provide evidence of the
pattern of progress that independents
helped to weave across this land.
Historical accounts of the Bell story have
been written, and a few pioneers have
given accounts of the unfolding of na-
tional independent telephony. Only in
recent years has there been a surge of
interest in capturing these eventful
So far as we have been able to learn,
only one book has ever been written on
the subject of independent telephony in
the state of Georgia. In 1958, E. B.
Judge Emrey, formerly of Charlevoix,
Michigan, wrote a book entitled In-
dependent Telephony in Georgia.
Judge Emrey began work with the
Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph
Company in 1911 and retired as their
Georgia manager in 1947. His many
To further set the time frame of the
emergence of telephony in Georgia, the
state had just ratified a new constitution;
the University of Georgia had been
engaged in higher learning for almost
100 years; Marthasville had developed
at a point where railroads crossed, her
name was changed to Atlanta and the
capital was moved from Milledgeville;
and the Atlanta Constitution, which call-
ed Georgia the new South, had been
in operation since 1868.
General W. T. Shermans march
through Atlanta some years earlier stHl
burned in the minds and hearts of many,
but progressive Georgians invited rebirth
and growth to the Empire State of the
South. The land of cotton was shifting
into a new economy stimulated by
pecan, grain, tobacco, sugar cane, and
peach crops. There was great promise
in reconstruction.
years of observance of the independent
telephone development in Georgia and
his relationships with other Georgia
pioneers qualified him to write a book
that contained a great deal of informa-
tion which otherwise would have
escaped us. Emreys little blue book
and every other source of information
availableas well as a few good scrap-
books of the mindgive a pretty good
picture of Georgias early telephone
Georgias telephone story is dramatiz-
ed by the fact that the first telephones
were introduced in a period of historical
significance for Georgia. The state had
emerged from a civil war in the 1860s
to face a bitter reconstruction era. The
war had taken its toll, but Georgia
emerged stronger, if not better. War and
defeat bred a people who keep on
keeping on.
(L-R) Mary Eunice Jones,
Slim Poag (Kellogg Supply Company),
Judge E. B. Emrey (Southern Bell
Ga. Manager), H. M. Stewart, Sr.
Pioneer Local User
The first telephone company operat-
ing as a business in Georgia of which
we have found record was located in
Atlanta. This came to our attention in
Atlanta and Environs, a book written by
Franklin M. Garrett (of the Atlanta
Historical Society). According to Mr.
Garrett, the Western & Atlantic Railroad
was the pioneer local user of telephone
service, when in November, 1877, its
passenger agents office and the train
dispatchers office in Union Station were
connected by the new speaking device.
Mr. Garrett recounted the first conver-
sation as follows: It was about noon,
and the telephone workman had just
completed the installation. As he was
leaving, Mr. Wrenn (the passenger
agent), who was slightly timorous about
the outcome, asked if it would work now.
Oh, yes, was the answer.
And can I talk over it?
Of course.
How do I work the thing? asked the
railroad man.
The installer turned the crank to ring
and then said:
Here he is. Mr. Wrenn picked up
what then served as a receiver and put
it to his ear.
Whos there, he called.
Kontz, Anton Kontz. Thats Wrenn,
aint it?
Yes, Im hungry. Send word to Henry
Durand to get me a good dinner.
By 1879 the city could boast a modest
telephone exchange serving 35
subscribers. Located in one of the up-
per rooms of the Kimball House, it was
called the National Bell Telephone Com-
pany. The name was changed in 1880
to the Atlanta Telephone Exchange, and
Henry M. Jackson was superintendent
at the time.
HtMKf H. JACrSOH. kfff.
CHA8. M. COY^H, Chtff
Atlanta Dallv Patt*Ap(i*ai. D. K. CaMwtU. Prop, t
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DafonpoH. Johnaan A IV. Balirtad MariUidtU,
Catluu and Wuulan Mill HiippIIm. S
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Hart. P. W.. Boaldanca. 1
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Jack. C. W., Caadr and Crackat Parlurr. 1
Jack A Holland. Candr Manttfacturcra. 3
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KlMkall. J. C.. Coal DaaWr. 1
XteklMitar. C. J.|Oroeaf. Uaal Markot aod 8awaa
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ttblehla. A. A.. Moat Market. 9
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W'For RHIraid TUMs.TteM Tiblu and Inlomntlon riladva to PassangH
Tmil, apply to MANN A JOHNSON,
tU. 4 KAwAbM May.
JM. P. A ia. PiMm.AtlMt4.Ca.
This directory page from the Atlanta
Telephone Exchange (printed only
five years after patent of the primitive
instrument) is an indication of the
rapid move to advancement of
Mr. Garrett further relates that the Southern Bell Telephone Company offered
to buy the Atlanta exchange from its somewhat disheartened owners. Negotia-
tions were completed on September 24, 1881, and the first switchboard ex-
change in Atlanta was opened. We are grateful to Mr. Garrett and the Atlanta
Historical Society for preserving this interesting bit of information.
Western Union
Companies Come
To Georgia
The first confirmed Western Union
exchange of significant size in the state
was built in 1879 in Augusta. Subscriber
rates of $5 per month were advertised.
There have been several unconfirm-
ed reports that this exchange began
operation with automatic switching
equipmentpractically unheard of at
that time. It is possible, but if so, such
equipment would have been an unsuc-
cessful attempt at something like the
Strowger switch which was installed in
Augusta a number of years later.
The second major Western Union ex-
change in this thirteenth original colony
was at the scene of General James Ed-
ward Oglethorpes settlement in Savan-
nah. Reports vary as to whether it was
1879 or 1880 that this exchange began
It may come as a surprise to some that
Atlanta followed shortly behind in 1881
and was the third large Western Union
exchange in Georgia. Oglethorpes set-
tlement had caused a thin strip of
population growth on Georgias coast
that resulted in Savannah becoming the
largest city in the state by the year 1870.
Atlantas location as a railroad center,
its movement away from agriculture, and
its strides toward progress caused its
rapid prosperity and by 1900 it was
Georgias largest city. It would later
become the scene of much telephone
TO OALL FOR A RUMBER.Ring Central by tnming crank and . pressing
bntton; tnm crank three or fonr revolutions. Take off receiver and PUSH UP hook on
vLich it hangs, tlen press down arm rest and presently you will hear Central say: What
numbert Then give only number wanted; dont use any useless words, for they only tend
to confuse. Wait just a minute and the party will answer yon. When through the party
who called should ring off by pressing button and giving crank a sharp half tnm.
TO ANSWER A GALL.When your bell rings answer PROMPTLY by re-
moving receiver and pushing up hook; press down arm rest and say: Here, No.-
In a thunder storm it is not advisable to use phono while heavy lightning is play-
ing near, but distant lightning will not affect it
Telephones are both delicate and costly, so please take ns good care os possible.
Try and keep it clean. Dnst off frequently.
RepoR all trouble promptly to Maatger of office.
To secure good service observe the foregoing instructious.
In order to prevent delay or misunderstanding, subscribers are requested, when-
ever tlioy wish their instrument moved from one location to another, to give the manager,,
at least five days notice in writing. For this service a reasonable charge, not to exceed
the cost to the Company, will be made.
Attention is called to the fact that the Company has completed connections :o a
great many of the neighboring towns, all of which, and rates aro given in tliis directory.
If your service is interrupted report it promptly to tho manager, No. 150.
Amwer your bells PROMPTLY. If subscribers will answer their calls imme-
diately, connections can be made to average within 14 seconds.
When using your phone be sure and give yonr No. when commencing convcrs.aiion
and require your correspondent to do tho same; this will prevent misunderstandings.
The hand-phone when not in use must always hang on the hook provided for it.
Operators are required to be polite under all circumstances. Please extend to
them the same consideration.
Much dissatisfaction arises from improper use of tho instmimiit. Stand close and
speak directly into the transmitter, naturally, distinctly and not too rapidly. In ease yon
fail to hear properly, insist on party at oUior end of lino talking in like manner.
Do not allow non-subscribers to use your ]>hone. It is an imposition ui>on ns, an
injustice to you and is a violation of yonr contract.. Respectfully,
Courtesy instructions from an
early directory, (1879)
Advancement of the
Southern Bell
Company In Georgia
The Bell company having developed
in the northeast and then in major cities
over the United States established itself
in the state of Georgia when the
Augusta, Savannah and Atlanta ex-
changes and other holdings of the
Western Union Telegraph Company
were absorbed in the agreement be-
tween Bell and Western Union and with
the purchase of the Atlanta and other
exchanges. The small Bell exchanges
that existed prior to that time were in-
dividual, lease management systems as
previously described.
In 1884, Southern Bells premier long
distance lines were installed between
Memphis and Nashville. Shortly after-
wards, in 1889, Atlanta and Fairbum,
Georgia, and points in Florida were con-
nected by long distance aerial wire.
The first Bell ventures into Georgia
did not prove to be financially lucrative,
not necessarily due to the Southern
economy but because of the ill fortune
of three successive fires that destroyed
the developing Bell facilities in Altanta,
followed by the nationwide financial
panic of 1893.
In order to keep its head above water,
under astute management. Bell suspend-
ed dividends, borrowed money, and
issued notes instead of cash for supplies
and equipment.
Indications were that with the pen-
dulous swing to prosperity, the Bell com-
pany operations in Georgia framed a
policy of growth and acquisition that
would kindle a spark of discord with the
Southern Bell would bring to Georgia
the superior Bell labs technology and
outstanding corporate citizenship.
The Independents
An outgrowth throughout Georgia of
small independent companies following
the expiration of the telephone patent
fueled developing rivalry. The ring of in-
dependent telephones could be heard
all over this state of geographical con-
trast, from the red clay hills where the
pines and the live oaks rise to the fall
line and the sandy coast. With sparce,
bold beginnings, the simple agrarian life
in rural Georgia took a progressive leap
Early independent telephone service
was established in Macon on June 1,
1879, with 10 stations.
Captain W. W. Games, an enterpris-
ing insurance broker, saw Bells tele-
phone at the Philadelphia Centennial in
1876 and later bought the equipment
by mail to set up his 10-station system.
Captain Carnes also had the first
typewriter and first mnning water and
set up the first public safety deposit vault
in Macon.
As far as can be ascertained. Captain
Games telephone was like a big party
line, even though it had two operators.
Roland B. H^l had a working
telephone or telephones in his Macon
dmgstore at 17 Cotton Avenue as a
curiosity as early as February 23,1878.
On June 21, 1880 Southern Bell
opened an exchange in Macon with 34
stations. In November, 1880, Southern
Bell paid Captain Carnes $677.32 for
lines and instruments turned over to the
Company. The first Southern Bell ex-
change was under management of the
local Western Union office.
The first long distance call was made
to Augusta on June 29,1880, probably
over telegraph wire.
The American Speaking Telephone
Company had a representative in Macon
in 1878 but no evidence remains that
there was provision of any services.
Long distance lines were built to
Atlanta in 1894 and to Americus in
The change to common battery came
in 1899 to Macon.
On May 12, 1951, the company was
cut to dial in a four-story building with
30,000 stations; this was considered the
largest cutover operation in Southern
Bell history.
Presidents, Managers, District Managers
Macon, Georgia
Title From To
Manager (Western Union) 1880 1882
Manager (Western Union) 1882 1885
Manager (Sou. Bell only) 1885 1890
Superintendent 1889 1890
Manager 1891 1892
Manager 1892 1896
District Manager 1896 1931
District Manager 1931 2/1/38
District Manager 2/1/38 8/1/44
District Manager 8/1/44 6/1/50
District Manager 6/1/50 6/1/57
Other early personnel included: OperatorsRichard Orme, Charles H. Garfield,
Robert Bindley, Sallie Van Houten, Lula Lewis and Sophie Herzog. Plant foreman
(1896)John Pax Hoffar.
Joseph L. Laney
G. E. Davis
D. H. Mullenix
John D. Easterlin
I. 0. Utsey
A. W. Prior
W. H. M. Weaver
Cecil Kervin
G. L. Kinsman
A. L. Boyer
W. B. Bryan
M. C. York, Founder of
Standard Telephone Company
M. C. Yorks former
telephone office
as it appears today.
Stories about the introduction of in-
dependent telephony in Georgia are
consistent with the tale surrounding Mr.
York who founded Standard Telephone
Company, Cornelia, near the turn of the
century and would probably be typical
of the infancy of independent telephony.
Marler C. York operated a mercantile
store in Clarkesville. He installed a
telephone in his home and store, con-
necting them by wires on insulators.
This rig provided instant voice com-
munication between his home and
business. As Mr. Yorks neighbors began
to see the usefulness of this innovation,
they obtained Mr. Yorks permission to
attach to his line. Reportedly, his friends
and neighbors sold him on the idea that
they would call his store for orders which
he would deliver on his way home. As
interest in the telephone and its con-
venience spread, Mr. York and a group
of businessmen organized the Standard
Telephone Company which was granted
a corporate charter in 1904.
By changing the names and dates, one
would have a fairly accurate accounting
of the way many independent telephone
pioneers brought their compamies into
being throughout the rural areas of the
There is reason to believe that the
Gainesboro Telephone Company was
one of the first independent telephone
companies in Georgia. It was made up
of a number of exchanges, and although
unconfirmed, is said to have existed
before the original telephone patent ex-
pired. Headquarters for the company
was located in Carrollton, and it may
have included exchanges in Newman,
Franklin, Douglasville, Temple, Villa
Rica, LaCrange and eight or ten other
mill towns south of Rome. The
Gainesboro company went out of
business in the 1930s.
Thomasville was one of the earliest
Georgia communities to have indepen-
dent telephone service, which leads us
to believe because of the environment
of the industry at the time, that
Thomasville was operational under a
licensee contract with Southern Bell. It
is known that a company existed there
as early as 1883, years before the pa-
tent expired. In 1886, it was closed for
lack of interest and was reopened in
1895 with 56 telephones.
There is an interesting story that sur-
rounds this company. It is said that
Thomasville was a produce center for
a large part of Georgia and Florida, as
well as an industrial area. In the period
from 1915-1920 more toll revenue was
generated from Thomasville than from
Jacksonville, Florida, and Thomasville
had several times the number of stations.
This company was purchased by
Southern Bell in 1896.
Old Southern Bell records indicate
that telephones were already in opera-
tion in Gainesville in 1893. Milledgeville,
Albany, and Valdosta were also among
the cities where the telephone made ear-
ly appearances. Their exact eourse can-
not be charted until later years.
The LaGrange telephone exchange
emerged in 1894. It was built by the
Milam family. J. J. Milams father first
headed the company, and around 1900
he took over management of the family
The first years gross collections
averaged $60 per month, but the rent
for office space was only $1.50 and the
light bill was $1 per month. This family
retained ownership until 1910 when a
large company assumed ownership, and
Mr. Milam continued to operate it until
his retirement.
Quincy Telephone Gompany had its
beginnings in 1898 when the economics
and convenience of communications
between two businesses on either side
of the courthouse square were realized
by purchasing telephone equipment and
installing it in their respective offices.
Their families immediately recognized
the value of the communications device
and were shortly followed by others who
wanted to join the party.
Few of the pioneer independent
telephone stories rival those of the late
J. Smith Lanier for interest and ingenui-
ty. I was told by a number of people that
Mr. Lanier was one of the most
fascinating and colorful telephone
pioneers they had ever met.
The stories about Mr. Lanier tell us
that in the late 1800s Georgia began a
series of expositions which were large
gala events intended to dazzle visitors
with the vast wealth of the states com-
modities and resources and the innova-
tions of the time. The expositions were
very popular and apparently did
stimulate a great deal of activity. As an
example, the Elberta peach was
developed by Samuel Rumph, Sr. for the
1895 Cotton States Exposition in
Macon. J. Smith Lanier of West Point,
18 years old at the time, attended the
fair. He saw there for the first time three
telephones connected to a small
magneto type switchboard. His infatua-
tion with the instruments resulted in a
long, interesting, and successful career
in the field of independent telephony
and in the founding of the Interstate
Telephone Company.
Members of the Lanier family con-
tinue to own and operate that company
and are well-known figures in the state
and national scene of telephony.
W. C. Birchmore, who owned and
operated a country store near the small
northeast Georgia community of Max-
eys, resourcefully and ably demonstrated
an extraordinary sense of the need for
telephone connections, when he made
a circuit for simple voice transmission
between his home and his store. He ex-
tended a single line taut, waxed cord be-
tween his home and his business with
an empty coffee can on each end. The
arrangement was crude by todays stan-
dards but was enviable in its time. This,
too, is typical of the period when the first
two telephones would be connected by
lines strung between a mercantile store
or some other business and the owners
home. Impatiently waiting, friends and
neighbors would ask to be connected
and from this primitive connection
would later evolve the local independent
telephone company.
Although it was not the earliest, the
Byron Telephone Company, interesting-
ly listed as operated by Robert Hardison
and neighbors, seems to be an exam-
ple of this kind of situation.
The first telephone installation in
Doles was a magneto telephone con-
necting Ben and Lula Gleatons home
to the farm home of Lulas parents, Mr.
and Mrs. Charlie Champion, in the
mid-1890s. A second line was strung to
the commissary which Ben operated in
Doles. Neighboring farmers became in-
terested in the convenience of tele-
phones, and additional lines were
Celebration of 1,000.000th
telephone in Georgia, Atlanta
Biltmore(L-R) Cam Lanier,
Sr.. Cam Lanier, Jr., Charlie
Joe Mathews and J. Smith
J. Smith Lanier, founder.
Interstate Telephone Company.
Public Service Telephone
Company lines.
Doing the best we could with
what we had."
Far Right:
This 1920s building is typical of
the meager beginnings for rural
Georgia telephony.
strung to the Marcus Champion farm,
brother of Charlie, and to the Jeeter
farm. This led to the need to purchase
a switchboard. With encouragement
from neighbors and family, Ben
purchased a Western Electric
switchboard and installed it in the
commissary for daytime service. Plant
Telephone & Power Company is the
corporation which grew out of that
installation. Nearly 100 years old, this
company is owned and operated by the
widow of the late Jimmy Gleaton whose
father pioneered the company.
Moultrie telephone exchange began
operation in 1898 with 40 subscribers.
It was acquired by Southern Bell in
1924. Cairo Telephone Company was
purchased by J. W. Southhall in 1904.
Some of these companies just named
are still operating under the same name
and family ownership. With telephone
connections such as these, the arms of
telephone service, though primitive, had
embraced most of rural Georgia by
1899. While it is generally believed that
not every town had service this early,
large companies served the cities, and
all of the rural service at the time was
provided by independents.
First Holding
In Georgia
Holding companies first appeared on
the Georgia scene around 1896.
Southern Telephone and Telegraph
CompanyAn early listing of com-
panies operating as a telephone business
in Georgia indicates that the Southern
Telephone Company (formerly the Long
Distance Telephone and Telegraph
Company) was a major holder of Georgia
companies. It was probably the first
holding company operation in the state.
J. A. Dusham, Jr. served as president of
the company. Advertising material has
been found imploring customers to use
the Southern Telephone and Telegraph
Company because their prices were
lower than the Bell Company. Among
the assets reported in 1899 were the ex-
changes in Valdosta, Waycross, Quitman
and Tifton. There were eventually 50
other toll points in close proximity under
this holding company.
In response to an inquiry for this
history, J. F. (Jim) Callahaim, Sr.,
respected and admired Southern Bell
Georgia Independent Company relations
man for many years, brought to me a
copy of the Southern Telephone and
Telegraph Companys Valdosta ex-
change telephone directory dated 1897.
He also provided a directory put out by
a rival Valdosta Telephone exchange
dated 1896. This exchange was a part
of the Valdosta Telephone & Electric
Company. Portions of Mr. Callahams
none-too-clear, worn and tattered copies
of these directories are considered well-
worth the space and the ink to become
a part of this presentation.
1897 Tariff Sheet from
Southern Telephone and
Telegraph directory

em ^efeplrone: eiRel

IN EFFECT JUnE 1 jt., 1 S^7M
And place you want'.look for puinber in - j-er
lollow'yctur niiDiber, in parellel coiuran, '.o'where thev intersec/.'
.6 [: 7;;
j. . .-V 'i i " \ - j :
1 ! 25 35 i 45 ! 55'j 55 j*55 : 65
2 35 25 I 35 j 45 \ io 46 J SST
oo *45,. oo
4' 35 45 I 35 -5 : 35 i .35 ; 45 .
i ' i ^ :
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6! 35 : 45 j 35 I 35 i 35 ; 25 ' S5.,
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' 7. 65 . .55 : 45 i 45 . 45 i:.35 . 25
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3 75 ! 65 ' 55 j 55 55 r45
Jasper to City .'joint line, 10c.,' in addition to a
id from Jasper. Sparks i Nashville joint line ] Oc, addition

............ f|
^c,c- rioppEu, r
?; \ - \;^ un* cUi;"W-v,ViT.r.:Ri.u.
i^SS^-KfcWrrS &iUTOew;; .. v -Vlft
'~::aI'' a i :t
- .Vf
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\ ^'5* iluUni I
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i. Houtl S*
rnOS. FORt>&,C;?-
Wa\rus Leather, GVnBrtures, V .v M -y. |
:t. ; :. -';
- Vi
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- -2b Mcoa.n WT.mW.Dci..-
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; ' <0. Marrow. John. U oilic.' '
41. Morniw, John. ;

Also appearing in Mr. Callaham's Directory
was this enumeration (right) from
Southern Telephone and Telegraph Company.
Towns Connected
By Telephones
See rates on tariff sheet
Naylor, Georgia
Stockton, Georgia
Dupont, Georgia
Humphreys, Georgia
Homerville, Georgia
Argyle, Georgia
Manor, Georgia
Glenmore, Georgia
Way cross, Georgia
Thomasville, Georgia
Boston Pidcock/Grooverville
Aytryville, Georgia
Moultrie, Georgia
Hahira, Georgia
Cecil, Georgia
Heartpine, Georgia
Adel, Georgia
Sparks, Georgia
Lenox, Georgia
Staunton, Georgia
Ga. Southern Lumber Company
Fenders, Georgia
Tifton, Georgia
Ousley, Georgia
Wades Park, Georgia
Quitman, Georgia
Nashville, Georgia
Dasher, Georgia
Lake Park, Georgia
Melrose, Georgia
Jennings, Florida
Averiettville, Florida
Jasper, Georgia
Genoa, Georgia
Winn, Georgia
White Springs, Georgia
Suwanee Valley, Georgia
Lake City, Georgia
Winnfield, Georgia
Southeastern Telephone Company
According to Judge Emrey, the first
holding company backed by out-of-state
capital came to Georgia in 1926 when
northern ventures invested in the
Southeastern Telephone Company (in-
corporated under the laws of Delaware
in 1928). The parent company, which
owned 100 percent of the stock, was the
Empire Telephone Company of Savan-
nah, Illinois. The operating company
headquarters was located in Tallahassee,
Florida, and Georgia property head-
quarters was in Fitzgerald, Georgia.
Mel Locke, a native of Maine, was the
first Georgia manager of this holding
company. A. L. Seward came to Georgia
in 1929 with many years of telephone
experience in Minnesota to become the
next Georgia manager. He also manag-
ed the Central Telephone Company of
Georgia, another holding company own-
ed 100 percent by American Utilities
Corporation whose address was exactly
the same as the Empire Telephone
Company mentioned above. A. L.
Seward was a prominent Georgia
telephone leader of that period and was
director and vice president of the
fragments of the independent associa-
tion in Georgia at that time. D. W. T.
Patton succeeded him as manager.
As Seward moved up the ladder of
success, W. C. Slim Martin followed
Patten in his managerial position in
Georgia and he, too, became active in
the business of the association, serving
as its president in 1948. Nelson Mahone
was the next manager and he also served
his company well, supporting the
Georgia Telephone Association.
During the late 1930s Southeastern,
suffering from under-capitalization,
rigors of the depression, and the 1933
rate cut sold, gave away, or closed more
than half of the 23 exchanges it owned
in Georgia. In a swap-out with the Con-
I tinental Company in the mid-1950s it
exchanged the remaining offices it own-
ed in Georgia for a group of exchanges
in Minnesota. This last group included
such places as Fitzgerald, Unadilla,
Perry, and Montezuma.
Georgia Continental Telephone
CompanyContinental Telephone
Company, (not to be confused with the
present CONTEL system) a subsidiary
of the Theodore Gary syndicate, was the
next out-of-state capital of this kind. The
Continental Company began acquiring
small Georgia companies about 1924.
Among its first acquisitions was a system
serving several communities near
Dawson, Georgia. Other acquisitions in-
clude Monroe, Winder, Toccoa,
Lavonia, Washington, and Lincolnton.
The Washington and Lincolnton ex-
changes were purchased by the Wilkes
Telephone Company of Tignall in the
early 1950s. Earl C. Blomeyer, R. S.
Griffin, and J. H. Wright consecutively
headed this Georgia holding company
operation and played active roles in
Continental continued to own and
operate the remaining Georgia ex-
changes until the entire Gary holdings
were merged into General Telephone
and Electric Company in the late 1950s.
Remember the fact that the funda-
mental transmitter patent was issued in
1876 and expired around 1896. By the
late 1900s this voice machine was com-
mon in America and in some other
countries. It should therefore come as
no surprise that around the turn of the
century, when the Bell company or a
holding company had exchanges in
practically every large city, the smaller
independent companies were penetrat-
ing rural Georgia.
Fanners Lines
The major exception to telephone
availability resulted in what came to be
know as farmers lines. It was financial-
ly impractical for a telephone company
to provide poles and lines in remote
farm areas. Farmers were encouraged
to build their own lines that were then
connected to the company for a small
charge. I have been told that a customer
charge of 50 cents a month was levied
for these lines which might have had as
many as 20 or more telephones on them
or as few as ten or less. In some cases,
however, the telephone company
forfeited the charge in lieu of the
farmers maintenance. The plan was for
the farmer, after his crops were in, to
give his time to maintenance of
telephone poles and lines. Lack of ex-
perience and knowledge about how and
why the telephone worked, including the
consequences of no maintenance and
the spoils of time, resulted in rapid
deterioration of these lines. However,
never having had very good voice
transmission, the farmer was satisfied so
long as the bell would ring and the voice
could be heard.
Even that came to an eventual halt.
Telephone service for the farm families
and the small towns was in great de-
mand due somewhat to the fact that they
once enjoyed the convenience. Farmers
lines began to disappear in Georgia
around 1920 and by the late 1930s on-
ly a few of the best constructed and
maintained of these remained. For many
years the remnants of posts and poles
with wire nailed to them could be seen
leaning, rotting, behind out-huildings
and bams, evidence of inexperience and
of improper knowledge about telephone
Cost of extending service to farmers
remained an insurmountable problem
for the small telephone company until
after the recovery from the ravages of
World War II and until the Rural Elec-
trification Administration (REA) extend-
ed its loan program to include telephone
It should not be inferred that every
home and business in Georgia had a
telephone by the turn of the century
because many of us who are not old
timers can remember when the first
telephones were placed in our homes,
but at that time, the telephone was not
the necessity that it is today. If the house
next door and down the road had a
telephone, it was the accepted practice
to knock on that door, day or night, and
be welcomed in to call the doctor or
make any type of emergency or crisis
call. Simply stated, it was the neighbor-
ly thing to do. For the most part, this
and the monthly service charge
discouraged the telephone-in-every-
home concept until much later.
Ellijay Telephone Company
(Albert Harrison, President)
This pole was for some time tied
to a tree on Courthouse lot on
the public square of Ellijay.
When the County trimmed the
tree, one of the limbs fell on the
guy-wire. The pole did not fall
but just sat down some 14
inches. Note the rotted chunks
on the ground. As seen in the
picture repairs consisted of a
stub post and two bolts.
Far Right:
Ellijay Telephone Company
This pole was used near the
one shown on adjacent photo.
Note the old, split shell-of-a-pole
was strapped with heavy wire.
A Directory of some of the earliest known
telephone operations in Georgia.
In these pages we assume the difficult task of attempting to identify some of the first
appearances of individual telephone companies in the state, with the bits and pieces
of available information. Only that which can be fairly well documented is included.
Existing Georgia Telephone companies also appear in the listing.
Exchange or Company
Atlanta, Georgia
Macon, Georgia
Augusta Exchange
Savannah Exchange
Atlanta Exchange
Carrollton Telephone Company
Atlanta Exchange
Thomasville Telephone Company
Empire Telephone Company
Thomasville Telephone Company
Albany Telephone & Electric Company
Gainesville Telephone Company
Milledgeville Telephone Company
Valdosta Telephone and Electric Company
Telephone Connections in Comer
Telephone Connections near Satilla River in Camden County
Lagrange Telephone Company
Empire Telephone Company
Telephone Connections in Doles
Origin Plant Telephone & Power Company, Inc.
Harmony Grove Telephone Company
Jefferson Telephone & Telegraph Company
Ft. Valley Telephone Company
Bell Companys first purchase of a Georgia independent company
Interstate Telephone Company
Long Distance Telephone Company
Consolidated Telephone CompanyMoultrie Exchange
Quitman Telephone Exchange
Thomasville Telephone Company
Tifton Telephone Exchange
Valdosta Telephone & Electric
Waycross Telephone Exchange
Blakely Telephone Company organized
Toccoa Exchange
Madison & Monticello Exchanges
Quincy Telephone Company
Moultrie Telephone Company
Comer-Danielsville Telephone Company chartered
Monroe Exchange
Empire Telephone Company Chartered
Georgia Telephone & Telegraph Company, Savannah, Tybee
Southern Telephone & Telegraph Company
Moultrie Telephone Company
Central Telephone & Telegraph
Central Georgia Telephone Company
Commercial Telephone Company
Montezuma Telephone Company
Sylvester Telephone & Telegraph Company
Union Telephone and Electric Light Company,
Bell Telephone Company
Captain W. W. Carnes
Western Union Telegraph Company
Western Union Telegraph Company
Western Union Telegraph Company
Southern Bell
Purchased by Southeastern Telephone Company
Purchased by Southern Bell
N. A. Williams (dentist)
W. C. Birchmore
Milam Family
Owned Southeastern Telephone Company,
Mid-Continent, Alltel
Ben and Lula Gleaton
W. E., L. G. and T. C. Hardman,
W. T. Thurmond
H. W. Bell, F. L. Pendergrass, E. C. Armisted,
J. N. Holder, J. E. Randolph, J. B.
Pendergrass, J. C. Turner
J. Smith Lanier
Later incorporated as Southeastern Telephone
73 subscribers; George W. Averett, Mgr.
Purchased by Southern Bell
J. L. Phillips, owner; Briggs Carlson, Manager;
14 subscribers
N. A. Williams, President; C. L. Goodwin,
Manager; D. E. Temple, Asst. Manager;
154 subscribers
Miss Salie Murphy, Mgr.; 84 subscribers
Arthur G. & Wade H. Powell
Tige Shaffer
Mitchell Nebraska Drew
A. T. Hearin, R. K. Shaw; Quincy, Florida
40 telephones
W. H. Nunnally
First Holding Company, J. A. Dashan, Jr., Pres.
Macon (may have been there 10 years earlier)
Oglethorpe, Reynolds, Verma, Montezuma
1901 Bainbridge Telephone Company
Statesboro Exchange Chartered
Gainesville Telephone Company
Gainesboro Telephone Company
Independent Telephone Company
McClatchey Telephone Company
1902 Waycross Telephone Company
Douglas Telephone Company
Stewart Telephone Company
1902 Southern Telephone & Telegraph Company
Vienna Telephone Company organized
1903 Atlanta Telephone & Telegraph Company, Inc.
Columbus Auto Telephone Company
Milledgeville Telephone Company
Dalton Telephone Company
Ellijay Telephone Exchange established
Screven Telephone Company
Hart County Telephone Company
Walker County Telephone Company organized
Valdosta Telephone & Electric Company
1904 Ellijay Telephone Company incorporated
Cairo Telephone Company
North Georgia Telephone Company
Standard Telephone Company
Ringgold, Lyerly, Menlo, Georgia (Chatooga Cty.) via
Walker County Telephone Company
1905 Pelham Telephone Company
Pembroke Telephone & Water Works
Satilla Telephone Company incorporated
Summerville Telephone Company
1906 Colquitt Telephone Company
Sylvester Telephone and Telegraph Company
1907 Byron Telephone Company
Georgia & Atlantic Telephone Company
1908 Fairmount Telephone Company, Fairmount
Monticello Telephone Company
Southeast Independent Telephone Company
1909 Tifton Telephone Company
Milledgeville Telephone Exchange purchased
1910 Lagrange Company
Hiawassee Exchange
Hinesville Telephone Company
Leslie-Desoto Telephone Company formed
Petitioners: J. L. Mathews, James A. Brannen,
Bryan, Effingham, Tattnail, Screven,
Montgomery Counties; John W. Olliff, William
S. Preetorius Register, Parrish, Puloski, Clito,
Dover, Stilson, Brooklet, Woodbum,
Blitchton, Sylvania, Guyton, Metter
Marietta, Atlanta
Purchased by Southern Bell
Willacoach, Otilla, Fitzgerald, Broxton, Tifton,
Covington, Starrsville, Legion, Stewart,
Hyde Point
Purchased Waycross Telephone Company from
Southern Bell Company
C. R. Sikes
William Turton family
Decatur, East Point, Chattanooga, TN
Columbus, GA; Phoenix & Ginard, AL
W. G. Owenby, John H. Carter
Telephone Connections at St. Marys
F. P. Linder
Petitioners: G. B. Tatum, J. L. Rowland,
E. W. Sturchvant; LaFayette
Purchased by Southern Bell
Acquired by J. W. Southall
Clarkesville; M. C. York, manager
Pelham, Albany, Cairo, Meigs, Camilla
Pembroke; U. S. Williams, founder
Satilla; Dr. A. K. Swift, president
Public Service Telephone Company
Colquitt, Blakely, Columbus
H. F. Crawford, owner; Robert Hardison &
neighbors, managers; Byron
Dawson, Parrott, Sasser, Weston
Organized by P. H. Green
Shadydale, Kelly, Farrar, Monticello, Mansfield,
Purchased by Southern Telephone &
Telegraph Company
by W. A. Jennings and J. T. King, Sr.
Purchased by Southern Bell
Southern Bell Telephone & Telephone Company
J. L. Amason
1911 South Georgia Telephone Company
Homerville Telephone Company
1912 Ringgold Telephone Company began operation
Thomaston Telephone & Telegraph Company
Reynolds Telephone Company
1913 Hawkinsville exchange
1914 Chickamauga Telephone Company
1915 Gray Telephone Company established
1916 Chickamauga Telephone Corporation
1919 Nelson-Ball Ground Telephone Company
Sylvania Telephone Company
1920 Darien Telephone Company
Fairmount Telephone Company
Plains Telephone Company established 1920s
1923 Reynolds Telephone Company
1924 St. Joseph Telephone & Telegraph Company
1925 Moultrie Telephone Company
1926 Thomaston T. & Telephone Company
1927-28 Reidsville exchange
Southeastern Telephone Company (a Delaware Corporation)
1930 Blue Ridge Telephone Company
1936 Alma Telephone Company
1937 Adrian Telephone Company
Folkston Telephone Company
Doles Telephone Company
1939 Danville Telephone Company
Jeffersonville Telephone Company
Standard Telephone Company
1940 Glenwood Telephone Company
Alma Nichols exchanges
Reidsville exchange
Pembroke Telephone and Water Works
1943 Glenwood Telephone Company
Haddock Telephone Company
1944 Waverly Hall Telephone Company
1945 Brantley Telephone Company
Dahlonega Telephone Company
Cleveland exchange
B. Parker purchased from C. R. Sikes; Ludowici
Sold by Hargrove
8 neighbors; Founder, James E. Evitt, Sr.
Fincher Brothers
H. C. Bond (origin of Public Service Telephone
Purchased by W. A. Jennings, J. T. King, Sr.
and Judge John T. Allen from
Mr. Blasengame
Chickamauga, High Point; A. E. Yates
T. Rad Turner, C. S. Bryant
A. E. Yates
Nelson, Ball Ground, Talmo;
Mrs. Luther Thomason sold to
M/M J. H. Cook
Adis Millis
Joseph Christopher Jackson bought from
Mr. Cobb
Purchased by H. D. Lacey
Norman Murray family
Roberta & Lizella
Chattahoochee exchange
Purchased by S. Bell
Sold to J. L. Kirk
Southern Telephone Company exchange
Purchased by J. C. Doc Thomas from TVA
Purchased by Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Bennett from
W. E. Quarttlebaum
Purchased by W. T. Blankenship from
Mrs. H. S. Sowden
B. Parker purchased from his brother, L. Parker
Sold by A. P. Dyles to H. P. Gleaton
Purchased from W. G. Spears by
0. B. Lineberger
Purchased from M. C. York by H. M. Stewart
Purchased by W. H. and Odessa Jones
Purchased from Southeastern Telephone
Company by J. G. Bennett
B. Parker purchased from Southeastern
Telephone Company
Purchased by C. R. Sikes and renamed
Sikes Telephone Company
W. H. and Odessa Jones sold to Leon B. and
Eloise Cox Adams
Purchased by R. L. Lineberger
Julian T. Jones purchased from J. F. Adams,
L. W. Slaughter, Gus W. Owens,
J. B. Thompson
Purchased by Avery and Lena Strickland
(52 subscribers)
Purchased by H. M. Stewart
Purchased by H. M. Stewart from
Ellis C. Turner
1946 Sikes Telephone Company
(formerly Pembroke Telephone and Water Works)
Omega Telephone Company
Leslie-Desoto Telephone Company
Sylvania exchange
1949 Wilkinson County Telephone Company
South Georgia Telephone Company
Blairsville exchange activated
1950 Planters Rural Telephone Cooperative Inc.
Trenton Telephone Company
Pearson and Willacoochee Telephone Company
1951 Bulloch Telephone Cooperative, Inc. organized
Plant Telephone and Power Company
Effingham Telephone Company
Plains Telephone Company
Pineland Telephone Company
1952 Helen Telephone Company
Demorest exchange activated
Dawsonville exchange activated
1953 Progressive Rural Telephone Cooperative
Rentz and Cadwell exchanges
Chester exchange
Young Harris exchange
Dexter exchange
Dudley exchange
Coastal Utilities, Inc. was incorporated
1954 Blakely Telephone Company
Washington Telephone Company
Lincolnton Telephone Company
Wilkes Telephone and Electric Company
Pinehurst exchange
Public Service Telephone Company
1955 Camden Telephone & Telegraph Company
General Telephone System
1957 Citizens Telephone Company incorporated
Southeastern Telephone Company
Milledgeville Telephone and Telegraph Company
1958 Georgia Telephone Corporation (formerly Blakely)
Georgia Telephone Corp. formed
Whigham Telephone Company
Ochlochnee Telephone Company
Purchased by Paul and Ivey Beardslee and
renamed Pembroke Telephone Company
Acquired by J. P. Gleaton and renamed
Plant Telephone Company
Purchased by Tommy C. Smith
Purchased from F. M. Houser by R. J. Parker
and son
Independent operation (begun by Brooks family)
taken over by George H. Carswell, Wilber
Council and Ralph Culpepper
H. M. Stewart
Purchased by W. R. Tatum
Purchased by J. P. Gleaton, renamed
Plant Telephone Company
Incorporated and included Warwick Power and
Telephone Company, Plant Telephone
Company and Pearson and Willacoochee
Telephone Company
Purchased by Planters Rural
Purchased by Tommy C. Smith
Organized in Emanuel and Chamber counties
Helen S. Stewart (29 stations)
H. M. Stewart
H. M. Stewart
Organized and incorporated
Progressive Rural granted option to buy from
L. . Maddox
J. D. Jackson granted option to buy
Activated by H. M. Stewart
Purchased by Progressive Rural from Cy Dozier
Purchased by Progressive Rural from
Mr. Dominy
Purchased by Charles DeLoach
Acquired by Oliver S. Dyson, Sr.
Acquired by Oliver S. Dyson, Sr.
Formed by merging Washington and
Lincolnton Telephone companies
H. P. Gleaton purchased from P. T. Streetman
Formed from merger of Reynolds, Roberta,
Lizella, Butler, and Culloden Telephone
Acquired telephone and manufacturing
properties of Theodore Gary and
Company and called them Georgia
Continental Telephone Company
This Fitzgerald Company acquired by Georgia
Continental Telephone Company
Acquired by General
(Formerly Blakely Telephone Company)
Purchased by W. Charles DeLoach and
merged with Georgia Telephone Corp.
1962 Suches exchange
1963 Batesville, Tallulah Falls exchanges
1964 Dixie Telephone Company
1966 Glenville Telephone Company
1968 Commerce Telephone Company
1977 Big Canoe
1978 Mid-Georgia Telephone Corp.
1983 Allied Telephone Company
1984 ALLTEL Georgia, Inc.
H. M. Stewart
H. M. Stewart
C. Hearn (sold in 1964)
Aubrey Sikes (sold in 1966)
Purchased by Mid-Continent
H. M. Stewart
(formerly Mid-Continent Telephone Corp.)
Merged with Mid-Continent
(formerly Mid-Georgia Telephone Corp.)
It shall remain a mystery the exact
number of these small telephone com-
panies that existed before the turn of the
century. This will end any further at-
tempt to trace the steps of the hundreds
of exchanges in Georgia that came and
went and changed ownership. We will
not, therefore, attempt the impossible.
This brings us to a point in time that
we can tap other resources including the
mandatory Georgia Public Service Com-
mission reports. Bell/independent com-
pany facts, and the well-kept records of
H. M. Stewart, Sr., and Colonel Bob
Alford, and the GTA; together they mir-
ror the movement of our industry in the
Telephone Equipment
The Bell system was destined to
become the worlds foremost corporate
entity, owning and operating more than
one-third of the telephone exchanges,
more than 75 percent of the telephones,
and nearly 90 percent of the toll facilities
in the U.S. However, at the time the
basic Bell patents began to expire in the
early 1890s, Mr. Bell and his associates
owned little more than the telephone in-
struments they had manufactured for
lease to individuals, associations, and
corporations. The fledgling Bell com-
pany had concentrated its resources on
manufacture for lease and, consequent-
ly, had not kept pace with the zooming
interest in, and demand for, the new
communications gadgetry.
Reference to Bells leasing ar-
rangements, which continued well into
the 20th century, supplies some miss-
ing links in the story of the independent
telephone companies. According to
old-timers in the industry, the fact of
Bells early concentration on leasing in-
dicates that nearly all local telephone
systems in the U.S. were originally
independentnot established by the
Bell interestand put together by local
entrepreneurs. Further, many, if not
most, local systems now owned and
operated by Bell companies were ac-
quired through purchase. It also explains
why local telephone operations in
Georgia communities such as Atlanta,
Carrollton, Gainesville, and LaGrange
were already established prior to expira-
tion of the Bell patents. While available
records dont confirm such a conclusion,
it is reasonable to assume that these ear-
ly Georgia operations relied on Bells
leasing of its own instruments. When the
patents expired, non-Bell related
telephone manufacturing plants soon
dotted the landscape.
The original patents covered the end-
use device, or telephone instrument, and
at no time covered the switchboard.
Telephone switchboards were in fact
switching boards with the added respon-
sibility of signaling the party called. They
were commonly enclosed by upright.
oak wood cabinets and contained a
panel which controlled the direction of
electric current directing telephone calls.
There is reason to believe that an
open wire line system with local battery
manually-operated switchboard was the
earliest used in rural Georgia aireas. As
common battery magneto boards and
automatic switching appeared, they were
first used in larger cities and were con-
sidered commonplace by 1895, but it
was not until the 1900s that they came
to rural Georgia.
Abstracts of data on telephone equip-
ment, operations of telephone ex-
changes and appropriateness of a
telephone exchange as an exhibit at
Georgia Agrirama were prepared in
1981. This brief but comprehensive
study of South Georgia telephony con-
tains a great deal of authentic informa-
tion. This description of the first south
Georgia apparatus was a part of the
troducing their telephones and
telephone equipment to independent
Georgia by helping to originate ex-
changes in Valdosta (200 wire exchange
with 54 telephones), Quitman (100 wire
exchange with 73 telephones), Waycross
(100 wire exchange with 84 telephones),
and Tifton (50 wire exchange with 46
telephones). The message also claimed
that the companies previously mention-
ed could save their customers more than
100 percent as compared to the same
services by the Bell company.
The following appeared in the
December 1, 1896, Valdosta, Georgia,
List of Subscribers (telephone
' BALTIMORE, MD Nov. 30, 1&>3.
<Io. Subdcrfbcr ant> tbc public:
This Directory will give within itself a fair idea of the tele*
phone business and its rapid growth. While the telephone is
nearly 20 years old, it was only last year the public was per*
mitted to xise it unencumbered by patents.
On January 1st, 1890, we sent our Mr. Ooodrum to Valdosta
to introduce our phones and telephonic aparatus. With Valdos-
ta as a center be has made rapid progress, and has reached over
50 other places and built four.exchangesValdosta, 200 wire
exchange, with 164 'phones, started with 36 names on first con-
tract; Quitman 100 wire exchange with 73 'phones, started with
20 names on first contract; Waycross 100 wire exchange with 34
phones, started with 32 names; llfton 50 wire exchange, 46
'phones, started with 25 names.
, Each of these exchanges is now larger than ever before, and
they are enjoying a substantial and steady growth.
These exchanges are owned by local capital and managed by
boards of directors in their respective places. All exchanges are
doing nicely and earning neat dividends. They are saving the
people over 100 per cent, as charged by the Bell Co. for the same
service in places occupied by them.
Every telephone turned out is a long distance Instrument and
equipped with the most powerful transmitter made by W. B.
Also the long distance Telephone Company now incorpor-
ated as the Southern Telephone and Telegraph Company an.
extensive connection in this vicinity and is rapidly pushing forward
to other places. It is now doing a Telephone and Telegraph busi-
ness. In this it comes in competition with two of the greatest
monopolies in the United States and it is giving the people a bet-
ter rate and should receive the preference when they each reach
the same place.
We have 20 years experience in the manufacture of Tele-
phones and Telephonic specialties. Tours truly,
viaduct MF*0 CO., Baltimore, Md.
While the geographic areas of Georgia
were not foremost in the nations early
telephone picture, it is to their credit
that adequate independent company
telephone service was available at an ear-
ly date. A great portion of the accolades
goes to those who aided in the develop-
ment of the limited equipment that was
available. With the coming of the early
1900s, there was more and better equip-
ment and instruction.
pear on the scene were Automatic Elec-
tric Company, Sumter Telephone
Manufacturing Company, Viaduct
Manufacturing, Kellogg Switchboard
and Supply Company and American
Electric Telephone, to name a few.
Viaduct Manufacturing Company bas-
ed in Baltimore, Maryland, was probably
the first independent telephone supplier
to produce switchboard equipment for
Georgias rural telephone companies.
Sumter Telephone Manufacturing Com-
pany of South Carolina appeared on the
scene at about the same time.
A Viaduct advertisement in the Quit-
man, Georgia, telephone directory dated
November 30, 1896, boasted of in-
The poles were 40 feet high, ap-
proximately 12-17 inches in
diameter, with between one and
ten 10 foot crossarms spaced two
feet apart carrying 10 wires each
spaced 12 inches apart. The in-
sulators were glass and certain
distinct shapes are characteristic
of the 1890s. All the lines were at-
tached to the central office by plac-
ing crossarms on the outside of the
(Hayes, Martha Green, Tele-
phone Exchange, unpublished
manuscript prepared at Georgia
Agrirama, 1981.)
Some of the first manufacturers to ap-
Butler, Georgia toll entrance
prior to cutover to dial
in 1950s,
(Note lines attached to
office with crossarm).
news BUl_l_ET\N

June \9fc2
Oliver S. Dyson with son
George Dyson. George is
now president of
Wilkes Telephone Company.

t7-- iU 0 Husnn oroiect otticer ?or tWe SignoV BaUa\ion at >
Ft. Geotge f ^ ^Sorge <St com-njmcottons in support of the " %
Jt'.'i Doris <sp^.W'<"tpt5?r.

'^.-.Tr -, wtv' ?i-t.T ^ *5;
The Turn Of
The Century
This countrys fascination with the
telephone continued to mount in the
years that followed the turn of the cen-
tury. Throughout Georgia small in-
dependent telephone companies were
sprouting. Also by this time, the two-
and three-instrument entreprenurial
alliances such as previously described at
Doles, Maxeys and Clarkesville had
mushroomed all over the state.
Meanwhile, the demand for tele-
p ones accrued as the population in-
creased, output of the factories tripled,
and development of state natural
resources stimulated the economy.
Many things were happening in
Georgia, much of which had to do with
the events that led to Americas entrance
into World War I. Georgia citizens join-
ed with the military forces to support the
war effort and, in fact, ranked fourth in
largest number of soldiers Joining from
any state. Key people in Georgias
telephone story became a part of the
Citizens of the deep South helped
build ships, made bandages, bought
bonds and stamps, worked in hospitals,
sent their sons to fight and shared their
homes with soldiers. There were many
military camps including Atlanta,
Augusta, Columbus, and Macon. Fort
Oglethorpe, Fort McPherson, and Fort
Benning housed thousands of American
Evidently the activity brought on by
divided families and the influx of soldiers
to these military camps caused quite a
commotion in the telephone industry
since by 1921 the number of telephones
reached a high that the industry would
not see for the next 27 years.
Then in 1922 the independent
telephone industry began to experience
telephone losses. Some of the losses
were due to Bell company purchase of
independent exchanges, but most losses
were the effect of soldiers leaving
military camps in Georgia.
The steady decline in the number of
telephones which intensified in 1929
and continued until 1936 was of a dif-
ferent nature as it brought progress in
the industry to a halt.
Leases Operations
An incident occurred in 1909 whereby
the Walker County Telephone Company
officers elected to lease the company
operations, thereby relieving them from
the day-to-day management duties. The
first lessee was W. J. Jennings who
operated the company until 1921. Then
Mr. J. C. Keown leased the company un-
til 1925. When the company was under
a lease management, the company
owners saw that it was necessary to
establish a set of by-laws covering the
proper use of the telephone line. Walker
County Telephone Company allows a
look back at these interesting rules:
1. Each person renting a phone shall
accept the same, subject to the by-laws
of the company and such regulations as
may be fixed by the company from time
to time.
2. Social conversations are not permit-
ted when the line is required for the
transmission of business messages.
3. No one shall use the line for more
than five minutes if another is waiting
for it. Anyone failing to surrender the
line in five minutes after being requested
to do so shall be charged the sum of 25
for each three minutes and at the same
rate for any extra time over.
4. Any and all persons using party lines
shall, upon notice that there is a long
distance message to be transmitted, im-
mediately surrender the line, and in case
of failure to do so, each of said parties
using the party line shall pay 25 <t for
each three minutes and at the same rate
for any time over three minutes.
5. No one shall be allowed to use im-
proper language over the line and any
person so offending shall be charged $1
for such conversation over the phone
and will also be liable for prosecution
for violation of the law.
6 No one shall be allowed to take down
the receiver for the purpose of listening
to a message not intended for him. Each
person so offending shall be chairged
7. No one shall allow anyone but
members of his family, invited guests or
other subscribers to use his telephone
free of charge. All subscribers allowing
messages from their phone by parties
not authorized to talk free will be charg-
ed with the conversation (lO't) and shall
be required to collect the same and turn
it over to the telephone company at the
end of each month.
(copied exactly as original)
A major landmark in the
telephone Industry. San
Francisco converses with New
York, inaugurating
transcontinental telephone
service on January 25. 1915. At
table from left; G. E. McFarland,
president of Pacific Telephone
and Telegraph Company: C. C.
Moore, president of the
Panama-Pacific Exposition;
Thomas A. Watson, assistant to
Alexander Graham Bell;
Thomas B. Doolittle, who had
perfected a process for making
hard-drawn copper wire which
speeded the early development
of long distance service; Mayor
James Rolph, Jr.; and H. T.
Scott, chairman of the board of
the Pacific Telephone and
Telegraph Company.
First Transcontinental
Long Distance Line
In 1915 the nations first transcon-
tinental long distance telephone line was
opened from San Francisco to New
Georgia was part of a four-way hookup
that connected the White House, New
York, San Francisco, and Jekyll Island,
President Woodrow Wilson spoke
from Washington, Alexander Graham
Bell from New York, Thomas Watson
(Bells assistant) from San Francisco,
and Theodore M. Vail (president of the
Bell company) from Jekyll Island,
Bell launched the new service by
repeating those famous words first
spoken over the voice machine, Mr.
Watson, come here, I want you. Wat-
son responded with comments about
how long it would take him to get there.
(Authors note: Many of the oldest and
best photographs in this text, including
the one shown on the previous page,
were made available by Irby Shephard
[AT&T]. Special thanks to you, Irby.)
A Government-
Operated Telephone
On July 24,1918, at the outbreak of
World War I, President Woodrow
Wilson seized the property and opera-
tions of all telephone companies and
placed them under the authority of the
office of Postmaster General. His action
was considered a national security
measure. Congressional discussion of
making the action permanent was
quieted by public protest over expensive
and inefficient service, and private
ownership was restored one year later
on July 31, 1919.
Smiling Through
The severe and wide-spread economic
decline that began in the late 1920s was
given the name depression days for
good reason. History will recall that in
the years from 1929 and intermittently
until the 1950s, hard times fell upon the
These discouraging periods did not
elude the small southern state, once call-
ed enchanted land by the Cherokee
The telephone industry came to
unscheduled intermissions during this
period. However, among telephone peo-
ple there was a sense of obligation that
their work was a citizenry service of ut-
most importance. This nurtured a sense
of pride that helped to survive the era.
As a side effect, a bond was forged that
would not be erased, but there were
many obstacles to surmont. These
meager seasons provided the impetus for
some wonderful, colorful experiences
and interesting articles.
Bulloch County
Telephone Company
On March 29, 1901, news clips an-
nounced that the Bulloch Company was
building new lines and making connec-
tions with Register to Adabelle and
Undine, and that they expected to to
reach Metter, Pulaski, and Parrish. A
line is being built to Mr. W. H. Blitchs
from Sylvania where connection will be
made with the Statesboro Telephone
Company. The company proposes to
give Bulloch County good telephone ser-
vice. They own a line to Savannah, and
you can call up anybody you want.
By May, 1901, the company had ex-
tended its lines and Statesboro was con-
nected with Bryan, Effingham, Tattnail,
Screven, and Montgomery counties. A
news item in the May 10, 1901,
Statesboro News reported nearly all
parts of Bulloch are now reached and
the company proposes building other
lines. It is a great convenience to the
people, and brings every neighborhood
in touch with each other. The
Statesboro exchange has about 50 town
subscribers and is constantly growing.
Low rates are given, and most of the
stores and many residences are equip-
ped with phones. In this rapid day, the
busy man must have a phone.
Nelson-Ball Ground
Telephone Company
It was around 1910 that automobiles
began to show up in the telephone in-
dustry as well as other businesses.
Passenger cars had to do even the heavy
work since trucks were a rare sight. Ac-
cording to Mrs. Cook, There were on-
ly two cars in Ball Ground. Whenever
there was trouble at Nelson or Tate, Mr.
Cook would have to ride the train from
Ball Ground to one of these places, and
then walk to the homes from the train
depot. He was later able to buy a car
which made a big difference.
Interstate Telephone
In 1919 the Chattahoochee River, at
a point near Interstate Telephone Com-
pany, West Point, rose to seven feet in
the telephone office, covering the charg-
ing and battery equipment which
mechanized the switchboard. About the
time the water receded the city was
visited by a tornado, demolishing the
the outside telephone plant. The Lanier
familys close association with the Bell
company came into action as they sent
in material and men to recover the ser-
vice from the water and storm damage.
General Telephone
Talmadge Brazel began work for Con-
solidated Telephone Company in 1939
and is presently employed by General
Telephone Company of the Southeast.
His view of the industry sparked him to
observe that the old telephone com-
pany was a horse and buggy operation
compared to the Cadillac operation of
today. By that I mean the working con-
ditions and improvements that have
taken place over the years. We were very
small then. The depression had just got-
ten over and we had few telephones.
Most everybody could work on the old
common battery type telephones of
those days. I like to remember the old
days, but I definitely wouldnt want to
go back to them.
Pinehurst Telephone
The telephone exchange at Pinehurst,
actually closed down after the war, and
the people were without telephone ser-
vice. The owner, Mr. Gene Broxton, also
the Standard Oil dealer in Unadilla, sent
a telegram to the Georgia Public Ser-
vice Commission in 1947 saying,
Citizens Telephone
(Written by Tommy Smith)
Interstate Telephone
Talmadge Brazzel
(second from left)
'...wouldnt want to go back"
to the old days.
ITPA meeting(L-R)
Mary Searson,
Talmadge Brazzel,
Jimmy Berry and
Earl Kidd.
The advent of widespread use by
electrical co-ops of rural area power lines
created so much inducted noise on our
grounded one-wire telephone circuits
people could not hear or be heard.
Sometimes we would go to the
customers house and pour water around
the station ground rod to help transmis-
sion. We needed to metallicize (make
two-wire circuits), but material and
money after World War II were in very
short supply.
The availability of credit was nil for
small companies. I had a friend, Mr.
Robert Quattlebaum, who owned the
telephone company at Rochelle, and
every Sunday morning we would have
our board meeting on his front porch
and if he got credit somewhere during
the week he told me and I would do the
same for him. He got several hundred
poles on credit and proceeded to build
a toll line from Rochelle to Cordele to
Abbeville. When, the Bell company saw
his pole line built almost to Cordele,
they cited him before the Georgia Public
Service Commission (GPSC). The GPSC
ruled that Bell discontinue serving the
We were able to get two switch-
boards on credit from North Electric
Company of Galion, Ohio, for ten per-
cent down. One for Rochelle and one
of Leslie, for a small monthly payment.
However, we retained our magneto
switchboard in case we were not able to
pay for the new dial equipment so we
could always convert back to the
magneto system.
In 1947 after World War II one of
our customers, Mr. Houston, who was
an overseer of Kennedys ranch, ac-
cepted a collect call from his son sta-
tioned in Japan. The amount of the col-
lect call was $50 plus tax, and, of course.
Bell charged it to us through settlement
agreements. Mr. Houston was paid on
a very small sharecroppers salary once
a year. He could not come up with the
approximate $60 owed to us for the
monthly bill. I went to his home to try
and collect the bill that I might pass it
on to Southern Bell, whom we had to
pay. I sat with Mr. Houston on the front
porch of his home trying to come to
some agreement for payment of the
money, but there was no way he could
pay. Money was very tight in 1947. We
continued to ponder the problem when
all at once like the Lord moving on the
water, a drove of turkeys came stroll-
ing across the yard in front of us. Mr.
Houston, I asked, are those your
turkeys? Yes!he replied. Immediately
my mind conceived that this was the
answer we had been looking for. Could
he pay me the bill in turkeys and he
agreed. I credited his bill with the ap-
proximate 12 turkeys and carried them
to the cattle auction, and in the middle
of the cattle sale, the auctioneer sold my
turkeys by the pound. I dont remember
what they brought but was glad for any
Equipment was so scarce that I went
to see Mr. Broxton after he closed the
Pinehurst Telephone exchange, and he
sold me magneto telephones that were
still in place in the customers homes.
I actually went in and took telephones
off the walls and the tables of peoples
homes and carried them to our ex-
changes and reinstalled these in-
struments for our customers. Mr. Brox-
ton offered to give me the Pinehurst
Telephone Company, but I turned the
offer down because money was not
available to put it back in service, and
it would have been a liability. (Today this
exchange is part of Plant Telephone
and, of course, quality service is provid-
ed.) The Georgia Public Service Com-
mission would not allow this to happen
today; however, this is actual informa-
tion and was verified by Mr. Bob Alford
of the Public Service Commission.
Public Service
Telephone Company
The late H. C. Bond, Jr. had recollec-
tions of the beginning of his telephone
career when because of the depression,
he spent the majority of his time collect-
ing from subscribers. He told the story
of being paid with chickens, ham, eggs,
vegetables or whatever was available and
carrying them to the farmers market in
Macon to convert them to cash.
And this is the best one: Mr. Bond
also told that one Monday morning, he
went to the local bank to make a
deposit. Upon returning to the
telephone office, he put through a long
distance call on the switchboard to the
bank. The call was a message telling
them that President Roosevelt had just
ordered all banks closed. Whereupon,
he went back to the bank, reached
through the tellers window and took
(L-R) Ed Burney. Catherine Burney,
Donna Warren. Tommy Smith and
John Sims having a good time.
Lots of stories among this
group of pioneers,"
November 10. 1960
GTA dinner honoring independent
telephone company men with
40 plus years of service.
H. C. Bond.
Jimmy Gleaton. Avery Strickland,
Cam Lanier, Jr,. Gene Britt,
H, M, Stewart, Sr., Jim Evitt, Downing
Musgrove, Horace Vaughan.
H. C. Bond,
Public Service Telephone
Reynolds, Georgia.
back his recently-made deposit which
was still lying there.
The telephone industry in 1987 is lit-
tle more than 100 years old. Stories such
as these sampled here and many of the
people pictured within these pages are
representative of a time that should
forever be remembered.
What I Remember Most
About Hart County
Telephone Company
By Frank Linder
(One of Lintels most important
resources was Mr. Frank Linder deceas-
ed January 31,1987. Uncle Frank was
the resident historian, genealogist, and
chronicler of Hart County Telephone
Company, the Linder family, and Hart-
well. What follows are his recollections
of the early days of telephony, cotton,
bollweevils, model-T Fords and the
Great Depression. Through his eyes and
in his language we recapture a bygone
The first thing I remember
about Hart County Telephone
Company was that PaPa would
carry us to the office up over the
Page Furniture store. I forget the
make of the switchboard but it had
a little shutter that would drop
down when anyone rang and you
could tell where to put the cord
and plug. The main frame had
mica type fuses that blew when you
had a storm. Vesta and Mark Lee
McCurjy were the two operators.
There was a single wire line go-
ing out each road from town and
each line had about 15 or 18
phones on it, and they would ring
each other by so many short and
long rings. You couldnt put two
lines on the same pole as both
lines were using the ground as part
of the talking circuit, and you
could hear the person talking on
either line. In the summer the lines
got noisy but the people on the
line could ring each other and get
a message across or call the doc-
tor. Our economy then depended
entirely on cottonthe price and
the weather and the kind of crop
they made. If the crop was good
you could hear the gins running
night and day and Depot Street
filled with cotton. The price of cot-
ton was usually around 12-16 cents
a pound. It varied depending on
weather conditions over the south.
The farmers paid about $17 a
year for phone rent and some got
by with $12.
When I was in about the fourth
grade in school, one day I got near
town and there was a building bur-
ning and it was the telephone of-
fice. Whoever was supposed to
open the office started a fire in the
stove and then went off and left it,
probably to eat breakfast; when he
came back the building was burn-
ing. PaPa replaced the ruined
equipment with an electric board.
When anyone rang it would clat-
ter and the little ball would turn
to show the red side. People were
without service for about a month
while a Western Electric installer
installed the new board. PaPa
rented space in the Matheson-Kidd
building which was larger with a
number of vacant rooms and got
an old lady to live there and be the
night operator. Before World War
I, farmers didnt have radio or T.V.
and cars so telephones were their
connection to the outside world.
World War I brought on an
economic boom with cotton sell-
ing for three and four times what
they usually got. The farmers
began to buy automobiles. The
merchants in town began to raise
their prices and make big profits
and buy big cars. Telephone com-
panies couldnt raise their prices
and share in the boom but long
distance increased a good little bit
which brought on some profit.
After the war was over PaPa did
succeed in getting a rate increase.
PaPa decided we needed a car
so he went to Atlanta and bought
an Oakland car. Cars were not
very reliable then. He got to the
outskirts of Atlanta and it broke
down. He had them to come and
get it and bought a sturdy reliable
Ford. People called them Tin Liz-
zies that shook, rattled and
After the introduction of cars
and radios the telephones became
less valuable to the rural section
and we lost a lot of rural phones.
Probably about half of them. The
talking quality on the old styles
was not too good and as the earth
was part of the talking circuit you
could carry on a conversation with
the other party by talking real
loud. In town the lines were two
wire and you could talk in a nor-
mal voiceno noise on lines. The
Boll Weevil had been creeping
from the west for several years and
while I was in high school it struck
Hart County. They destroyed most
of the cotton crop and we lost a
lot of telephones. PaPa could no
longer afford to pay the
maintenance man and had to let
him go. It became my job to main-
tain the lines after I got out of
school in the afternoon. It work-
ed out all right except when we
would have a sleet storm. We had
a lot of rotten poles in the rural
section and the ice would bring
them down. If it was in a woody
section and not near a farm house,
I would take an axe and cut down
a tree and dig a new hole for the
pole. I worked for a year after I
graduated from high school and
PaPa then got Spencer to come
and take my place while I went to
In 1924, while working in New
York, I had received several pro-
motions and was drawing a mighty
nice salary. I saved a good little-bit
of money as I wanted to own a
business of my own and not be one
of the hired hands. This was work-
ing fine until the Depression hit in
I decided to go back to Hartwell
and look around the South. When
I got here I didnt draw any salary
out of the telephone company. I
just spent my savings and some
months Spencer had to skip his
small salary as well. Spencer and
I went on an improvement cam-
paign since we knew that the rural
phones didnt talk well and if you
just wrapped one wire around
another, it would tend to rust and
offered resistance to the flow of
electricity. We went over all the
joints in the rural lines and
soldered them.
In working the old switchboard,
I noticed the old 1910 crank
phones didnt talk clear like the
newer phones, so we went on a
campaign to gradually change the
transmitters on all the phones to
the new type. One of the worst
features of a magneto board is that
it didnt have lights that came on
when they stopped talking. The
operator just had to go in on the
line and see if they are still talk-
ing. On a common battery board
the lights come on and the
operator can see when each party
hangs up. The Kellogg Company
made a small medium priced
board that you could convert to
common battery as you got each
line where it would handle the 24
volt current.
We were planning to get one
whenever we could finance it.
PaPa had a loan from an Atlanta
bank. When the Depression hit in
1929 the Atlanta bank became
short of cash so they called in the
loan and sent a paper here for
PaPa to sign where he would sell
the telephone company. PaPa
didnt sign it. PaPa finally mor-
tgaged the telephone company to
a family for a $10,000 loan and
paid the Atlanta bank off. It push-
ed us just to pay the 10% interest
and a little bit on the principal
each month and after a good many
years had the note paid off. Some
of the family members would go
around town saying well soon own
the telephone company as they
cant pay the loan off. We skimped
and saved and were determined
that we would not lose the
business to the loan. Also, during
the Depression when cotton was
selling for only about six cents a
pound, the Public Service Com-
mission cut our rates back to $2
a month for a private line and
$1.50 for a party line. This made
it more difficult to pay off Hart
County Telephone Companys
loans. We finally paid them off. We
didnt have to pay the 10% interest
it made us a little bit better off
During World War II everything
was rationed and there were prac-
tically no telephone supplies
available at all. We had a lot of
new applications for phones but
were not forced to install them.
When the war was overwith so
much war money in circulation
we were snowed under with ap-
plications for telephones. We had
to go down to a meeting with the
Public Service Commission to ex-
plain how we were going to take
care of these orders. We made big
promises which we didnt know
how we were going to carry out.
But we did install a lot of phones.
Most of our applications were from
the rural area, as we could keep
up with our applications in town.
About 1938, the REA started to
build electric lines over the coun-
ty roads. They were using the
earth as part of the electric circuit
and we were using the earth as
part of the talking path for the one
wire telephone circuits. When they
threw the switch to put electricity
on the new lines, all you could
hear on the single wire rural lines
was a loud roar as we were both
using the earth. All of our rural
phones were gone. We tried to col-
lect some money from the govern-
ment REA but they said they were
just antique lines and not standard
practice at all. We finally install-
ed two wire lines to the main
When the war began, there was
a shortage of telephone materials
due to the war effort. We had
about 270 phones before the elec-
tric lines knocked the rural phones
out. PaPa was getting old so he
turned customer billing over to
me. We used pen and ink to ad-
dress the bills and write up other
information. We bought a posting
machine from the bankrupt bank.
You could put the bill in and pull
a long lever and it would print
what you had put on the keys. This
was the first adding machine the
company had ever owned. They
had just introduced the fast ten
key electric adding machine and
later we did buy a fast ten key elec-
tric adding machine. Weve come
along way since then.
After the war, we held things
down fairly well with our crank
phones but after a while we had
no more capacity on our magneto
board and began to get in trouble
with the Public Service Commis-
sion. In fact, they held two public
hearings here to see if they would
let a co-op take us over. We went
to Atlanta and made a lot of big
promises and they decided to let
us stay in business. By then our
outside plant was in fairly good
shape and would handle the 24
volts on a common battery board.
Rock Hill, South Carolina, had
recently gone dial so we went over
and bought three positions of their
long board. On the trip home it
was pretty rough and it shook the
board pretty bad and made a lot
of the old coils go bad. We were
lucky to have William Anderson
and Jack Barton with us. They
worked a long time repairing the
old boards and finally got it work-
ing. We gradually went to each
phone cmd changed it so it would
work on the 24 volt common bat-
tery board. We didnt tell the
public we were going to change
over as we were not sure it was go-
ing to work and they could con-
tinue cranking their phones. It
worked fine. The Public Service
Commission gave us a big rate in-
crease for the improved service.
We then kept improving our
outside plant so it would handle
the 48 volts of the dial system and
now gradually changed each
phone so it would work on a dial
system. When they passed the
wage hour law (about 1934) we
were exempt until we reached 500
telephones, but it was a pain in the
neck having to go and help
operate the board at rush time or
find someone when an operator
was sick. Under the wage hour law
most businesses just worked 40
hours and closed down while we
had to work 24 hours a day 7 days
a week. When they passed the law
we knew we had to go dial but
didnt have the slightest idea how.
We kept improving the outside
The wage hour law did improve
our economy and with the higher
wages and shorter week we began
to get orders for phones from
workers who had never had one
before. On the Mill Hill not a
single house had a phone before
the lawafter the law practically
every house down there did. We
kept building two wire rural lines
but it was a slow process setting
poles and stringing steel wires, but
when they brought out the plastic
insulated wire cable that you could
bury in the ground it was a life
saver for us as you could take a
bulldozer or tractor and bury it so
fast. Each time Congress raised
the minimum wage it brought on
more prosperity but would hit us
harder as we couldnt work a 40
hour week and close down.
We had around 1,000 phones
by then and it was a big pain in
the neck trying to operate a
manual board on a 168 hour work
week. Stromberg Carlson said we
didnt have enough equity for a
$100,000 loan to go dial but went
ahead and did it. Jack, Spencer,
and I went around installing a dial
on each phone and rewiring it so
it would work on dial. Over the
years we have gotten a total of nine
loans from Stromberg, all but two
of our last loans have been paid
We have everything so
automated now that we pay way
above the $3.25 per hour
minimum wage. Our pain in the
neck now is deregulation and the
FCC stepping in and telling us
what we can and cant do.
Ini 900, this telephone office occupied two rooms upstairs in
the southwest corner of the Atkinson building. Picture was
taken in 1901.
Hello, This Is
If a picture is worth a thousand words,
the above picture is worth many more.
It is the classic example of an early
1900s telephone office. Missing from our
view is the bed on which the operator
caught winks during the night watch
of the switchboard, which probably was
in the front room of a home.
A glimpse into the daily life of small
town switchboard operators can be
gleaned from a story related by the
manager of a group of small telephone
offices. While visiting one of the offices
under the managers supervision, a
customer barged in to deny having made
a call for which he was billed. At that
time all long distance calls were handl-
ed on a person-to-person basis but on-
ly the point called was shown on the
itemized statements sent to the
customer. Responding to the customers
complaint, the operator in charge reach-
ed into the desk and pulled out the
batch of tickets covering the period in
question. Locating the ticket from which
the charge had been billed, she said,
Mr. Banks, you called Mr. So-and-So
at telephone number so-and-so, and if
you still dont recall it, I will tell you what
you talked about. The customer im-
mediately acknowledged the validity of
the charge and promptly paid his bill in
For decades, small town telephone
switchboard operators rivaled the
renowned Canadian Mounted Police in
getting their man. Another example of
resourcefulness is related by the owner
of a group of small telephone offices.
Dropping in on the editor and publisher
of the local, weekly paper in one of the
communities served by his company, the
owner was met with the excited exclama-
tion, Youre just the man I want to see!
He next explained, We have the finest
switchboard operator and the best
telephone service anybody could want!
He then related the cause of his en-
thusiasm. The previous Sunday morn-
ing he had faced an urgent need to con-
tact Senator Richard Russell, known to
be in Washington, D.C. Having no im-
mediate personal family, the Senator did
not maintain residential quarters or a
telephone number in Washington.
Following several unsuccessful attempts
by the big city long distance operator
to locate the Senator, the local operator
sought permission from the Georgia
long distance operator to talk directly
to the Washington, D.C. operator.
Within a matter of minutes, she had the
Senator on the line, having found him
in one of Washingtons leading hotels.
Prior to the advent of automatic dial
switching, a manually operated switch-
board could sometimes be found in the
private home of the local telephone
system owner, but for the most part, they
were located on the second floor of
business establishments, such as banks
and drug stores. Quarters housing
telephone switchboards came to be
known as central offices, and operators
were often referred to as central.
Telephone switchboards were original-
ly manned by teenage boys, soon to be
replaced during daylight hours by more
dependable and proficient young ladies.
This trend continued until male
telephone switchboard operators virtu-
ally disappeared, not to return until im-
plementation of the Federal Fair Labor
Standards Act. Small telephone central
offices doubled as business offices where
payment of bills, requests for service.
Right: 1953Dahlonega,
Georgia. Equipment slowly
Left: Old switchboard and
operator at Carlton, Georgia.
and trouble reports were received and
handled, and other business matters
were transacted. Introduced following
World War I, the contract office
became a popular procedure for mann-
ing small telephone offices. Under this
arrangement, the telephone company
leased suitable living quarters, such as
a residence or apartment, in which it in-
stalled the switchboard. The company
then entered into a contract with an in-
dividual, usually a woman, who agreed
to fully and adequately man the switch-
board around the clock and to other-
wise act as the companys agent and
business representative. In return for
these services, the agent received free
use of the business quarters, plus
utilities, and a monthly cash payment.
The agent, in turn, hired and paid for
additional help as needed or wanted.
Some independent telephone com-
panies leased time service from the
Western Union Telegraph Company,
which they relayed to interested
customers. This time service consisted
of a specially designed and constructed
clock mounted in a conspicuous place
on the wall of the central office. They
were electrically reset each day at twelve
oclock noon. Giving out the correct
time was all in a days work for operators
in such offices. Some offices substituted
other time pieces, such as Coca-Cola
advertising clocks, for the Western
Unions time service. Switchboard
operators oftentimes kept a dictionary
handy to help customers with spelling
and word definition.
Every company has its stories about
telephone operatorsthe overly-zealous
lady who remembered all that she heard
and did not mind spreading some of it
around and the playful boys who werent
always there when they were needed.
But the operator we love to remember
is the sweet, little, older lady who
hovered over all those who looked to her
for guardianship. If you needed anything
or anybody, she always knew where they
were, when they would be back, and
what they went to get. She would tell
you what time it was, if the preacher was
home, if Mrs. Smith was feeling better,
and how much Mrs. Jones new baby
weighed. The spirit of the little town was
lifted by her presence, and she holds a
special place in the history of telephone
The following sequence of operator
stories was selected from the special
memories of Georgia companies.
Mrs. Cook, who operates NELSON-
PANY, says that in the early days the
24-hour operator service that is taken
so much for granted today was unheard
of at that time. Her office opened at
eight oclock in the morning and was
open until she oclock in the evening, ex-
cept for one-hour breaks for meals.
An account from the early days at
PANY was that the operator would close
the office at night, but every day at 12:00
noon she would give a series of short
rings and give out the weather report,
the cotton prices and any other news.
She had to do this either before or after
the farm bells started to ring for the field
workers to come in for their meal.
PHONE COMPANY, according to C. J.
Mathews, extended operator service
hours to open at 6:30 a.m. and close at
9:00 p.m. Sundays hours were from
9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and from 4:00
p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
with telephone properties in both
Florida and Georgia, serves a farm area
that at harvest time has a large influx
of migrant, Spanish population. A
teacher was hired to teach the toll
operators enough Spanish to complete
calls for these citizens.
According to H. M. Stewart, Sr. of
PANY, Pearl W. Carney was a telephone
switchboard operators operator. At the
age of 17, Miss Pearl went to work for
Southern Bell in Anniston, Alabama.
She retired as chief operator 35 years
later and moved back home to
Mr. Stewart recalls that Miss Pearl was
serving as night switchboard operator
at the Dahlonega Telephone Company
when he purchased the company in
1944. Following Mr. Stewarts purchase
of the Cleveland Telephone Company
in 1945, Miss Pearl asked for and receiv-
ed the contract agents job there.
Miss Pearls keen perception, vivid im-
agination, inquisitive mind, and her deep
and abiding love for people set her apart
as an exceptional personality. These in-
valuable traits and her reputation as a
proficient operator were recognized in
articles appearing in the June 24,1948,
Atlanta Journal Magazine and the April
12, 1958, edition of Telephony.
The stories gleaned from these two ar-
ticles take us back in time to a small,
friendly town in north Georgia where the
hello girl had her ear to the heart of
the community. The telephone lady was
more than an impersonal central. She
served as everything from a reference
library to a messenger boy. Miss Pearl
was once asked when Napoleon sur-
Top of Page: Jefferson
Employees (former and retired)
Shirley Hall, Ruth Serodino, Nell
Roberts, Hortense Benton, Eddie
CheekJefferson exchange now is
a part of ALLTEL.
Above: A look back in time to the
Jefferson toll board operators
Bettye Langford. Doris LeCroy,
Virginia Parker, Nell Roberts,
Shirley Hall. Ruth Serodino.
rendered to Wellington. I knew it
was approximately 1815, she said.
But when she was asked which place
in the Bible a patron could find the

1946Note CocaCola calendar on wall.
Lords Prayer, she had to put in a hurry-
up call to the minister. I figured the
man might really need to know, she ex-
plained. One day a lady wanted Miss
Pearl to look and see if her little boy
was riding his wheel around the court-
house. And to Miss Pearl listing all the
calls a housewife got while she was gone
from home wcis just being neighborly.
Locating wandering cows, knowing
who needed the doctor, and keeping up
with everybodys telephone number were
all part of Miss Pearls day. She once
helped locate a man traveling north from
New Orleans to tell him to return home
because his mother had died. All Miss
Pearl had to go on was his name and
that he was driving a Studebaker. She
took a road map and kept calling fill-
ing stations on the main highway until
she finally caught up with him in Hat-
tisburg, Mississippi. When it was a mat-
ter of helping someone in a tight spot,
the idea of failing to get a call through
never occurred to Miss Pearl.
Another time she drove way up in the
mountains after 11:00 p.m. to take a
message to an old mountaineer whose
wife was ill and who was expecting their
son to arrive from overseas.
A Day Worth While
I count that day as wisely spent
In which I do some good
For someone who is far away
Or shares my neighborhood.
A day devoted to the deed
That lends a helping hand
And demonstrates a willingness
To care and understand.
I long to be of usefulness
In little ways and large
Without a selfish motive
And without the slightest charge.
Because in my philosophy
There never is a doubt
That all of us here on earth
Must help each other out.
I feel that day is fruitful
And the time is worth the while
When 1 promote the happiness
Of one enduring smile.
Our operators personify the thoughts
expressed in this poem.
(author unknown)
1946Miss Pearl W. Carney, Cleveland.
1970Lafayette, Georgia.
Service and directory
Contemporary digital operator service
centers are manned by well-trained peo-
ple whose goals are courtesy, accuracy
and speed of call handling. While switch-
ing is no longer an operator function,
enormity of calls handled allows no time
for unnecessary conversation.
Left: 1986Terri," in the new
operator environment.
Below Left: 1987Contemporary
digital operator centerInterstate
Telephone Company, West Point,
Below Right: Mildred" explains how
it works to school group touring
modern operator service center.
Toll Operating Centers
With the development of inter-
exchange (long distance or toll) service,
it soon became evident that it was
neither practical nor feasible for each
telephone office to handle the toll
operating function. It was found that this
service could be more efficiently handl-
ed by trained operators over especially
designed equipment located in centers
from which multiple numbers of long
distance lines radiated. Since the Bell
system had concentrated on developing
a nationwide long distance system, it was
virtually in control of this type of ser-
vice by the time the Kingsbury Commit-
ment and Hall Memorandum became
fully effective. In addition to setting up
toll operating centers within com-
munities in which it supplied local ex-
change service. Bell established and
maintained such offices in communities
where local service was supplied by in-
dependent companies. One of the first
toll centers was located in Hawkinsville
in the office of the Hawkinsville Tele-
phone Company, which was seemingly
a long way from Macon, the nearest Bell
toll operation. Other early toll centers
in Georgia include: Commerce, Dawson,
Moultrie, West Point, Thomaston, and
Fitzgerald. The last such office in
Georgia, and probably the last one in
the United States, was located in Cor-
nelia. This office was closed in 1959.
Progressive development and increas-
ing stability in the art saw more and
more independent companies assuming
the toll operating function. Among
Georgia communities which became in-
dependent toll operating centers are
such towns as: Commerce, Dalton,
Dawson, Fitzgerald, Hinesville, Man-
chester, Moultrie, Statesboro, Toccoa,
Washington, and West Point. More
recently in 1976 an independent toll
point center was established in Cornelia
while centers at Dawson, Commerce,
Manchester, and Toccoa have been
discontinued. More explicit and com-
prehensive reference to inter-exchange
telephone service should be left to
others. But, we cannot leave this impor-
tant phase of the business without one
more glance at a bygone era. The follow-
ing is an explanation by one pioneer of
building a circuit:
Mrs. Hoates, operator. Old
switchboard in the Reynolds ex-
change. This picture was made in
1954, with the conversion to dial.
Note the toll tickets on the wall.
Each long distance call was
ticketed by hand.
In the beginning toll tmnk lines
between offices were relatively
short in length. If parents in Jasper
wanted to talk to their daughter
in school in Milledgeville, they
signaled the Jasper operator and
asked for long distance whereupon
they were connected with the toll
switchboard operator in Canton.
After recording all of the necessary
information on a ticket, the Can-
ton operator released them with
the assurance that they would be
called as soon as the called party
could be reached. The Canton
operator then proceeded to build
a circuit by signaling the Atlanta
office. When the Atlanta operator
answered, the Canton operator
then asked her to ring Macon.
When the Macon operator
responded, she was asked to ring
Milledgeville. When the
Milledgeville operator came on the
line, she was requested to ring the
telephone number given to her by
the Canton operator or to ring the
Georgia State College for Women.
Having reached the college, she
asked for the young lady in ques-
tion only to be told that she was
not immediately available and
would have to be notified. Assured
that this would be done, the Can-
ton operator then released the cir-
cuit she had so laboriously put
together. At the first opportunity
following notification, the young
lady being called signaled the
Milledgeville operator and asked
for long distance, whereupon she
was connected with the toll switch-
board operator in Macon. She
subscribers toil calls. Calculagraphs were used in
some toll centers until the 1970s.
then gave the Macon operator her
name and reported that she was
ready to talk on a call from Jasper,
Georgia. The Macon operator then
signaled Atlanta and requested
that she be connected with Can-
ton. When the Canton operator
answered, she reported that she
had Miss So and So on the line
ready to talk on a call from Jasper
and left the line. The Canton
operator then told the young lady
to wait a moment until she could
be connected with her parents in
Jasper. She then signaled the
Jasper operator and requested that
she be connected with the number
that had been given to her by the
calling parents. When that number
answered, she assured the parents
that the daughter was on the line
ready to talk. As often as not, calls
were not that easily or quickly
Busy trunks between Jasper
and Canton might require the call-
ing party to make several attempts
before reaching the toll operator
in Canton. For the same reason
the Canton operator might have
to make several attempts before
getting through to Milledgeville.
The same problems could well
have arisen on the return call.
Since these are but a few of the
problems which confronted toll
switchboard operators of yester-
day, it is easy to see they had to
be a highly trained and imaginative
lot. Among other things, they had
to become familiar with a lexicon
of abbreviations and phrases in-
troduced to speed up their com-
plex and repetitious performance.
Some abbrevations once used by
long distance switchboard opera-
tors are:
LKsee if you can locate the party
LWleave word to have called
party call
NCno circuit
NFcalled party has no telephone
NFMG-25<tcalled party has no
telephone can be notified by
messenger for 25
UDI dont know
Right: Mrs. Slade at the old
Magneto switchboard.
Bartow exchange, Pineland
Telephone Company.
Below: Telephone
company employees
relaxing after a
toll cutover.
UFUcalled party is out for a few
WRwill ring (example: NC Rome
WR Cartersville)

WwiT: ...


Twentieth Century
The state of Georgia had a total of
185,443 telephones on January 1,1930.
An increase of 18.5 percent brought the
total on January 1, 1940, to 219,694.
This span brought gains in 87 counties
and losses in 82 counties.
The predominantly agricultural areas
were less likely to install new connec-
tions. Some smaller counties experienc-
ed losses of 30 percent during this
decade and the following counties noted
losses of 50 percent: Atkinson, Banks,
Forsyth, Montgomery, Talbot, Tattnall,
Webster, White and Wilcox counties.
No county containing a community of
over 10,000 people recorded a decrease
in telephones.
Highest telephone gains in the state
were recorded in these counties: Baker,
Bryan, Camden, Charlton, Chattooga,
Gilmer, Glascock, Heard, Rabun,
Toombs, Towns, Upson and Warren.
(Independent companies exclusively
served each of these 13 highest growth
By 1934 Georgia had 93 independent
Another telephone is addedthe first telephone
installed in this rural Georgia grocery store.
telephone companies while the District
of Columbia and Rhode Island had the
fewest in the nation. In comparison,
Iowa had the highest number of
operating companies (466, all quite
small, we can be assured). Texas (389)
Kansas (390) and Illinois (384) came in
second, third and fourth in the category
of most independent telephone com-
panies located in the state that year. The
Peach State ranked moderate in this
Below: The 'fleetWalker
County Telephone Company.
Number of Independent
Stations in Georgia
Year Number of Stations
A 1940 study shows that 44 counties
depended exclusively on the Southern
Bell Company; 74 counties were serv-
ed by independent companies and in 35
counties the responsibility was shared.
As indicated in the below chart, the
independents were still facing problems
as the number of telephones continued
their decline from 1930-1940. This was,
however, offset by the fact that providing
essential telephone service to their com-
munities was more important than pro-
fit to the majority of telephone company
The following gives a more detailed
look at the size of Georgia independent
telephone companies during 1934:
No. of No. of
Independent Cos. Subscribers
2 ..................1000-5000
1 ................. 750-850
2 ................ 650-750
2 ................. 450-550
2 ................. 350-450
12 ................. 250-350
16 ................. 150-250
40 .................. 50-150
16..............Less Than 50
As the chart shows, there were no
GTA companies of staggering size in
1934. In these small companies, the
owner often was the president, general
manager, chief-engineer and public rela-
tions agent. In 1936 the industry was
shocked when someone made the sug-
gestion that by 1950, there would be a
telephone in every home.
In 1940 Union, Dawson, Banks,
Echols, Chattooga, Quitman, and Towns
counties had no telephone exchange. In
this same year Georgia had seven
telephones for each 100 people com-
pared to the national average of ten. But
the steady growth that was unfolding in
Georgia was reflected in the fact that the
state recorded a total of 240,000
telephones in 1941.
Number of Independent
Stations in Georgia
Year Number of Stations
1930 32,544
1931 31,333
1932 29,711
1933 29,774
1934 23,734
1935 23,455
1936 23,904
1937 25,691
1938 26,415
1939 27,527
1940 24,223
From 1937-1942, 50 independent
operations in Georgia were operating in
the red during some part of the period.
Savannah Valley Telephone Com-
pany, The Trion Telephone Company,
Pembroke Telephone Company, Odum
Telephone Company, Hampton
Telephone Company, Danielsville and
Comer Telephone Company, Dahlonega
Telephone Company and Arnold
Telephone Company ended each of the
years with a deficit. In 1938 Folkston,
Manassas, Midville, Sandy Cross, and
Vesta telephone companies had
operating incomes of less than ten
The three percent sales tax law, which
became effective on April 1, 1951, im-
posed collecting, recording and report-
ing applications that were a source of
exasperation for struggling
Through adversity the progress con-
tinued. The states independent com-
panies had 172 magneto exchanges in
service in 1932 and 103 in 1937. The
year 1952 recorded 77 magneto ex-
changes and 1953 only 57 magneto ex-
changes were still in operation. The last
magneto switchboard was literally and
figuratively laid to rest at Milan, Georgia,
on March 16, 1960.
(1972) GTA party for J. F.
Jim" Callaham, upon his
retirement from Southern Bell.
Jim (left) is honored by Art
Barnes and Bob Alford.
During the period from 1946 to 1953,
the independent telephone companies
increased the value of the gross plant
service from $4,922,967 to
$16,453,720; an increase of
$11,530,753 or 234.22 percent. This
was an impressive tripling of the gross
plant in service in a seven-year period.
On December 31, 1945, Georgia in-
dependents had 28,890 stations in ser-
vice on December 31,1952, the number
had grown to 62,898, representing an
increase of 34,008 or 117.72 percent.
In 1954, 51,000,000 telephones were
in service in the United States. It might
be interesting to note the population
relationship to this phenomenal growth.
Georgia Population
The 40s and 50s were years of strug-
gling for growth and expansion dwarf-
ed by the problems of the previous years.
During WWII the federal government
prohibited manufacturing of telephone
equipment except as aided in the war
effort. However, necessity is said to be
the mother of invention, and telephone
companies managed to provide
necessary telephone service.
The industry experienced a surge in
1945 at the end of World War II. The
economy was stimulated and people
were beginning to have money again.
This good fortune increased the demand
for telephone service.
Improving plant conversion, negotiat-
ing for toll compensation and improv-
ing bookkeeping efforts headed the list
of other problems, but the toughened
independents attacked these matters
aggressively and capably.
Of primary importance during this
time was the struggle for increased rates
and the words Public Service Commis-
sion were commonly heard in tele-
phone circles. Many rate increases were
granted. Good service rendered, good
community image, and conversion to
newer and more modern equipment
were the most common reasons for the
increases, and lack of these or misunder-
standings caused the denials.
Brought on by the availability of REA
loan funds, the small independent com-
panies found themselves in a period of
opportunity and potential.
In a ceremony at the White House in
Washington, D. C., on November 18,
1953, the telephone industry presented
the 50,000,000th telephone to President
Dwight D. Eisenhower. Government of-
ficials and representatives from the Bell
system and independent company lead-
ers celebrated this occasion together.
In the five-year period from 1954 to
1958 investment in telephone plant has
increased from approximately
$14,000,000 to more than $36,000,000.
During this same period the average in-
vestment per station increased from
$184 to $284.
The improvement in the quality of ser-
vice is shown by the fact that on January
I, 1954, only 46 percent of the stations
were dial operated compared to 88 per-
cent as of December 31, 1958.
Maintenance per station for 1958 was
$13.83 with average toll revenue being
The Bell system operated approx-
imately 9500 central offices in Georgia
while the independents operated
II, 000.
Southern Bell executive J. F.
Callaham gave these remarks to the
1959 GTA convention.
The independent industry has
made splendid progress toward-
meeting the needs of the people
for whom it is responsible for pro-
viding telephone service in
Georgia during the past five years.
On January 1, 1954, there were
92 companies, 194 exchanges and
79,899 stations. There were 104
dial exchanges with 39,649 sta-
tions, 52 magneto exchanges with
8,593 stations, 38 CB manual ex-
changes with 31,657 stations.
Today (1959) there are only 69
companies. This reduction was
caused by consolidations and ac-
quisitions by larger and stronger
companies of the uneconomically
small and weak ones. Today there
are 206 exchanges of which 183
are dial, seven magneto and 16 CB
manual. Conversion plans are suf-
ficiently firm to lead us to predict
that by the end of 1960 there will
remain only one or two manual ex-
changes including no magnetos.
The independent segment of the
industry may well reach 100 per-
cent dial in Georgia before the
Southern Bell Company does.
During the past five years the Bell
Company has offered the 1956
basis of settlement, following the
1953 traffic agreement which itself
provided for more liberal payment
to the independents for their par-
ticipation in providing better ser-
vice. Two important features of the
1956 basis of settlement are higher
payment for A functions for the
small exchanges and payment for
provision of toll lines based on
costs instead of the former plan of
a division of revenue.
So the payment to the in-
1924 Standard Telephone Company
directory. 1932 Walker County Telephone Company
directory, and 1957 Comer Telephone directory.
APRIL 1957
dependents for participating in the
provision of ample and good toll
service has kept pace with other
growth. In 1953 independents
received commissions and Pro-
rates of $1,773,405 and in 1958
they received $3,222,614.
The future looks even brighter
than the past for our segment of
the industry. New developments
in the art coupled with hard sell-
ing by all of us who are able to
keep up with the times and are
willing to work at our jobs with all
we have.
Mr. Callahams projections were ac-
curate; the hard work was rewarded by
growth, and brighter times did come for
the telephone companies. The last of
Georgias more than 183,000 independ-
ently owned telephones became part of
a dial system with conversion on April
21, 1963, of Gordon, Georgia, an ex-
change of the Wilkinson County Tele-
phone Company. This completed the
local automation of the telephones in
the 222 exchanges owned by 58 Georgia
independent telephone companies.
Six more new exchanges by as many
independent companies were in the
planning stage for cut-over during the
next 24 months. This milestone for
Georgia independents is significant in-
asmuch as only ten years earlier there
were less than 80,000 telephones in the
combined certified areas with only a
small number dial operated.
Building A Better Industry
Photos made at Soperton, LaFayette, Villanow, Georgia
Early Financial Struggles,
Rate Restructuring,
And Deregulation
As indicated elsewhere in this volume
the birth of the telephone ushered in a
new industry differing in many ways from
any established enterprise. A completely
new innovation, this delicate instrument
rendering an intangible service over an
intricate network of wires and switching
devices would require years of improve-
ment and refinement to prove its
capability and versatility. These and
other factors combined to establish local
telephone rates below needful levels.
This is a condition that continues to
prevail. In past years these revenue defi-
ciencies were matched by low wage and
salary scales. Many companies operating
on a cash register basis found
themselves unable to replace depleted
and obsolete plant and sold out to or
merged with more financially secure
operations. In more recent years local
service has been subsidized out of more
lucrative revenue derived from long
distance service. This*" later practice
brought on deregulation and competi-
tion which is already increasing local ser-
vice charges and lowering rates for long
distance service.
One of the many unique features
found in telephony is the method of pric-
ing of local exchange telephone service.
Since its inception as a commercial com-
modity, local telephone service has been
subject to uniform, flat monthly rates
without regard to frequency and extent
of use. Unfair disparities and inequities
embedded in this practice soon surfaced.
It promoted needless and excessive use
which upped the cost figure. Studies also
revealed that as much as 80 percent of
the traffic flow was generated by as few
as 20 percent of the customers. This
means that a decided majority of
customers were subsidizing service en-
joyed by a minority, some of which was
needless. For nearly a century manage-
ment and laboratories vainly searched
for a feasible means of measuring local
and short haul telephone service. The
breakthrough finally arrived with digital
switching. However, usage-sensitive pric-
ing of local and short-haul telephone ser-
vice has been universally rejected by
customers and regulatory authorities.
Before deregulation, more than one-
half of the geographical area of the state
was served by independent telephone
companies. As of January 1, 1987, it is
estimated there were almost 120 million
access lines within the telecommunica-
tions industry provided by 1,426 com-
panies. Former properties of the Bell
company now are represented by ten
companies. This entails approximately
212,000,000 telephone sets provided to
92.2 percent of the United States
population. These imposing figures
represent an employment of more than
725.000 men and women. The state of
Georgia on January 1, 1986, had 39
telephone companies with a total of
3.096.000 access lines.
A decrease in the number of indepen-
dent companies through mergers and
acquisitions resulted in economic in-
tegration of properties. Fewer and larger
independent telephone companies
emerged stronger and more capable of
keeping pace with a communication in-
dustry recovering from the upheaval of
The first remotely delivered message
recorded in history, What hath God
wrought is still a shocking reminder of
todays communications progress. GTA
is happy that Georgia is keeping pace.
Within the industry, we are often
asked the question, where do MCI and
other carriers fit into the Georgia tele-
phone picture? MCI, formerly known as
Microwave Communications Inc., had its
beginnings in the 1960s and is just one
of the many connecting long distance
telecommunications carriers. These long
distance, facility-based local exchange
interfaces do not constitute what has
been known as a local exchange tele-
phone company. It is anticipated that
this type of service will be provided
primarily to large cities or areas in key
locations for some time to come.
Georgia Companies In Top 150
The August, 1986, USTA Phonefacts rated the following Georgia telephone
companies in the nations top 150.
Company National Ranking*
BellSouth CorporationAtlanta.................................3
CONTEL CorporationAtlanta...................................10
Standard Telephone CompanyCornelia..........................38
Coastal Utilities, Inc.Hinesville...........................66
Interstate Telephone CompanyWest Point.....................109
Pineland Telephone Co-opMetier............................128
Wilkes Telephone & Electric CompanyWashington.............132
Walker County Telephone CompanyLaFayette..................140
* Based on number of access lines
Familiar faces among this
distinguished crowd of
conventioners are: Walter
McDonald, Crawford Pilcher,
John Seigle, H. M. Stewart, Sr.,
Charlie Eberhart, Jim Callaham,
C. E. Britt, C. HearnCharlie Jo
Mathews standing behind
podium. (McDonald and
CrawfordPublic Service
Georgia Public Service
In 1879 the Railroad Commission of
Georgia was formed and given jurisdic-
tion over rates and charges by railroads.
It is one of the oldest regulatory com-
missions in the United States. Its crea-
tion antedates the Interstate Commerce
Commission by eight years.
Authority by the Railroad Commission
to require adequate service for
passengers and freight was extended in
1891 to express and telegraph com-
panies. The Railroad Commission of
Georgia was expanded from three to five
members and from appointive to elec-
tive in 1907 when the authority was ex-
tended to electric light and power com-
panies and to telephone companies.
Fifteen years later the name was
changed to the Georgia Public Service
Commission, and they were given the
authority to assess public utilities for
enough fees to cover the cost of
The Georgia Public Service Commis-
sion was made a constitutional body in
The Commissions dominion was
enlarged in 1950 to include issuance of
certificates of public convenience and
necessity when the Georgia legislature
passed a bill which required all commer-
cial telephone companies and telephone
cooperatives to file for certificates of the
territory within the state of Georgia
which they would serve. The purpose of
this certification action was to make it
possible for every Georgian who wanted
a telephone to have it and to prevent
overlapping and duplication of facilities.
This initiative was bolstered by the
availability of REA loan funds and a
more prosperous economy.
The Georgia Public Service Commis-
sion, in regulating all telephone com-
panies, is guided by the following stan-
dards set by the United States Supreme
Court. The rate must:
Permit a fair and comparable
Preserve financial integrity

Walter McDonald, former Georgia
Public Service Commissioner-
born 1912, Greensboro, Georgia.
Permit attractive capital on a
reasonable basis.
Rates were based on inventory and fair
rate of return on public use.
Although empowered in 1907, it was
not until the 1930s that the Public Ser-
vice Commission began a spirited execu-
tion of their control over telephone com-
panies in Georgia.
In 1932 a candidate ran for governor
of Georgia on the promise that he would
reduce all utility rates-business, railway,
electric and telephone. Moving toward
fulfillment of that obligation, in August,
1933, the Georgia Public Service Com-
mission issued a rule nisi ordering all
telephone companies under its jurisdic-
tion to show cause why their telephone
rates should not be reduced. A major
issue of the ruling was a 50-cent charge
by the Bell company and a few indepen-
dent companies for the handset
telephones which were available to their
Answers were filed and hearings were
held at which the telephone companies
assumed the burden of establishing the
justness and reasonableness of rates and
In September, 1933, Governor
Eugene Talmadge in an unprecedented
act, spurred by their inaction on the
matter, fired the following Public Ser-
vice Commissioners: James A. Perry,
chairman. Perry T. Knight, Walter R.
McDonald, Jules Felton, and Albert
Commissioners Perry, Knight and
McDonald were returned to office after
elections in 1936-38.
The Governors new appointees,
subsequently ruled that rates would be
CUTT,. ..
(Sforgla IpuhUc (Enmmlssloti
You and each of you are hereLy required
v.o sho'.-i cause, if any you have, before this Commission at the
State Capitol, in the Senate Chamber at 9:00 A. M., September 12th,
i-.ext, uhy all local and long distance rates on telephone service
by your copmany should not be reduced and all extra charges for
services by v.hatever name the same maybe called, be reduced and/or
d -y of A.ugust 1953.
J. U. Forrester,
J. P. Vlilhoit,
As a consequence of this action,
equipment could not be upgraded. Lack
of adequate funding was the proverbial
straw on the back of the companies lack-
ing funds and experience along with the
inherent burden of obligation to their
The consumer could or would not pay
for the deteriorating service, and com-
panies lost telephones right and left. Ac-
cessible records reveal that the number
of telephones in operation from
December 31, 1933, to December 31,
1935, dropped by 6,219. When the
quality of service and number of
telephones in service in the state had
dropped to alarming levels, the Commis-
sioners reconsidered rate proposals.
The Commissioners sent out in-
vestigative field engineers who presented
findings that showed in a few cases the
service had not been commensurate with
the rates. Generally the companies were
providing the best service they could
under the prevailing economic
In many cases rate petitions were sup-
ported by the telephone subscribers.
Mayors, Kiwanis Club members, and in-
dividuals testified and signed documents
agreeing to pay higher rates for improv-
ed service. As many as 75 to 93 percent
of the consumers signed petitions in
some areas.
(Authors note: Details of the forego-
ing story are a matter of public record
in the state of Georgia.)
Not all telephone companies survived
the struggles of the era, but according
to some reports, telephone service was
substantially improved as a result of the
action. This 1933 Georgia Public Ser-
vice Commission annual report names
those Georgia telephone companies
operating under the authority of the
Commission at that time.
Again in 1946, following World War
II, the Commission took a similar action.
The number of telephones, as well as
the number of companies, had diminish-
ed, increasing the burden on the smaller
number of companies to reconnect
those wartime losses. The backlog was
alarming and the GPSC responded to
public outcry. They issued a rule nisi to
all telephone companies, but the in-
dustry had gained some experience and
was, therefore, braced for the difficult
Citizens Telephone Company Presi-
dent Tommy Smith recalls his
We have all been humbled by ex-
periences of the past years. We
started with 99 magneto
telephones in the mid-40s after
World War II. Telephone service
was basically provided in the rural
areas by one wire grounded to
return pole lines with an average
of 10 to 14 miles in length con-
sisting of 10 to 15 parties on each
line over operator magneto switch-
boards. We normally worked from
sunup to sundown and thought we
were doing a good job until dur-
ing the year 1946. The Public Ser-
vice Commission issued a rule nisi
order directing all telephone com-
panies in Georgia to appear for a
hearing conducted in Atlanta to
show cause why service should not
be improved. Our rates at the time
were business $2.50 per month;
residents $1.50 per month. Some
farmers paid their telephone bill
by the year$18 local.
Results of the hearing were that
we all continued to improve ser-
vice and telephone rates increas-
ed with dial conversions.
The moves that brought the Georgia
Public Service Commission to its pre-
news bulletin
MeHer, Georgia
March \959
Members of *he Georgia Public Service Commission and Staff; reading left
to right; Commissioner Crawford i_. Pilcher, Vice-Chairman, Allen Chappell,
Chairman, Matt L. McVAiorter, Commissioner, Walter R. McDonald and
Commissioner, Ben T. Wiggins. Dtxig Smith, Staff Member, at witness stand.
The problems went further as area ex-
tension applications were filed, but the
applicants did not wait for refusal to
build their lines. Others did not bother
to file. It was told that during this period
telephone companies were operating
that the Commission did not even know
Occasionally the Commission
authorized a company to operate within
a defined territory with one mile exten-
sion area possibilities. To extend further
would require a new hearing.
The Georgia Public Service Commis-
sion exercised rights of responsibility for
certified service areas when in 1967 a
question arose concerning the Ossabaw
Island, an area south of Savannah, and
in Chatham County. According to files
in the Georgia Public Service Commis-
sion office. Coastal Utilities Telephone
Company claimed the area as a part of
its Richmond Hill exchange and
Southern Bell contended that it was a
part of their Savannah exchange. A
lengthy file of records and cor-
respondence resulted in the area being
certificated to the Coastal Utilities
Telephone Company while Southern
Bell retained the radio facility rights.
sent state of accomplishment are sur-
rounded by interesting and humorous
The Commissions first attempts to ex-
ercise judicious control over the
telephone industry came during a period
of economic decline which complicated
the situation. Authority to govern such
things as purchase, acquisition or sale
of any telephone company was
hampered by the fact that in some cases
the owners had little to lose by not
cooperating with the Commission. The
meager situations that existed in a few
companies were such that they did not
care what the Commission said, they just
did what they had to do.
Extended Area Service
EAS1959 Sumter County
Plains. (L*R) Tommy
SmithCitizens. Lne
WatsonManager Southern
Bell. Americus.
Public Service
Commissioners at GTA
ConventionBob Alford
sitting, Walter McDonald,
standing, had the respect
of all. for performing as
commissioner while totally
all concerned as the Commission helps
to maintain the integrity of the
telephone industry.
The Commission is comprised of five
elected members. Those prestigious
seats are capably filled today by the
following: Robert (Bobby) Pafford,
chairman, Gary Andrews, William (Billy)
Lovett, James (Jim) Hammock, Ford
The Georgia Public Service
Commission is a guardian of public trust,
protecting both the utility providers and
the consumer, regulating cost and
quality of service, thereby aiding
telephone companies to ensure that
telephone service remain the best
consumer purchase in America.
Far Left: The late
William H. 'Bill'
Kimbrough was elected
to GPSC in 1961. Mrs.
Kimbrough keeps many
close GTA friends.
(Incidentally, singer Mac
Davis is her son.)
Middle: Robert Alford
(GPSC) known among
old GTA friends as
"Bob" worked for and
with telephone company
managers for a number
of years. "He knows as
much about the
telephone business as
Left: Former
commission chairman
Ben Wiggins was a
frequent and popular
visitor to GTA podiums.
Many fascinating stories accompany
the history of the Commissions interac-
tion with the telephone companies. In
the interest of space we have elected to
relate this very special one told to us by
Bob Alford.
When independent telephonys J.
Smith Lanier had his companys first
hearing before the Commission, he took
his seat and waited patiently to be call-
ed. When the time came and someone
called out whos up? Mr. Lanier stood
silent for a moment and then said,
Gentlemen, let us pray. This was un-
precedented, but he had gained the un-
divided, favorable attention of the Com-
mission. Mr. Lanier became the epitome
of an independent telephone pioneer by
breaking the mold.
Bob Alford remembered that while
serving with the Commission he visited
West Point many times, and Mr. Lanier
always insisted that he come to his
home. Bob said he was not allowed to
eat in a restaurant and, Boy, did they
set a table.
Various actions changed and sup-
ported the authority of the Commission.
Today all Georgia telephone companies
report extensively to that regulatory
body. This works for the betterment of

Telephone Companies:
AndersonviUe Teleplione Compatiyt
B. O. Holloway,
Andersonvmc Georgia.
Arnold, N, B. Teleplione Company*
H. H. Hardin, Pres.,
Porsytb, Georgia.
Bartow Telephone Company,
Mrs. EllaB. Archer, Owner,
Bartow, Georgia.
Blakeley Telephone Company,
ALs. Mattie Powell, Pres. & Gen. Mgr.,
Blakeley, Georgia.
Bowman Telephone Company,
A. G, Brown, Owner,
Bowman, Georgia.
Brooklet Telephone Company,
]. L. Matthews, Mgr.,
Statesboro, Georgia.
Broxton Telephone Company,
PV. M. Hing, Owner,
Broxton, Georgia.
Butler Telephone Company,
(Public Service Tel. Co.l
Mrs. Bessie Bond, Owner,
617 TPest Adams St.,
Macon, Georgia.
Byron Telephone Company,
0. B. Lineburger, Owner,
Byron, Georgia.
Cairo Telephone Company,
L W. Southall, Owner
C^o, Georgia.
Canton Telephone Company,
A. A. Fincher, Gen. Mgr.
Canton, Georgia.
Central Telephone Company ot Ga.
W. E. Glisson, Gen. Mgr.,
215 Eaist Park Avenue,
Tallahassee, Fla.
Chatsworth Telephone Company,
i. L. Kirk, Pres.,
Moultrie, Georgia.
Chester Telephone Company,
W. H. Floyd, Sr. Mgr.,
Chester, Georgia.
Chickamauga Telephone Company,
A. E, Tates, Owner,
Flintstone, Georgia.
Clermont Telephone Company,
Miss Hattie Chandler, Owner,
Clermont, Georgia.
Climax Telephone Company,
Ben PVright, Owner,
PVhigham, Georgia.
Collins Telephone Company,
U. S. Williams, Owner,
Pembroke, Georgia.
Commerce Telephone Company,
W. A. Echols. Mgr.,
Commerce, Georgia.
Consolidated Telephone Company,
J.L. Kirk, Pres.,
Moultrie, Georgia.
Craw!ordvillc Telephone Company,
]. C. Rhodes, Owner,
CrawiotdviUe, Georgia.
CuUoden Telephone Company,
CPubUc Service Tel. Co.;
Mrs. Bessie Bond, Owner,
617 West Adams St.,
Macon, Georgia.
Bahlonega Telephone Company,
R. C. Menders, Owner,
Bahlonega, Georgia.
Balton Telephone Company,
L. Kirk, Pres.,
Moultrie, Georgia.
Banielsville & Comer Tel. Co.,
Gerald Birchmore, Mgr.,
Comer, Georgia,
Banville Telephone Company,
W. G, Spears, Owner &Mgr.
Jedersonville, Ga.
Barien Telephone Company,
Mrs. Mary lackson Collier, Owner,
Odum, Georgia.
Bavisboro Telephone Company,
Mrs. J. E. Woodbury, Owner,
Bavisboro, Georgia.
Benton Telephone Company,
Br. E. A, Lambert, Owner,
Benton, Georgia.
Bixie Telephone Company,
C. L. Crawley, Owner,
Milner, Georgia.
Boles Telephone Company,
W. R. Spdlers & K. R. Giddens, Mgrt.,
Boles, Georgia.
Bouglas Telephone Company,
J. L. Kirk, Pres.,
Moultrie, Georgia.
Budl^ Telephone Company,
F. Cannon, Owner,
Budley, Georgia.
Buluth Telephone Company,
J. S. Brown, Owner,
Buluth, Georgia.
Efhngham Realty St Investment Co.,
Geo W. Fetzer, 3r., Pres. Sc Gen. Mgr.i
1618 Commercial Building,
Savannah, Georgia.
e Telepl>oO-5e^8'-'
Emp>ri o Ethr>?
Mrs- Georg!*-
EoP'f roinPy'
, Telepboo CoinP
J-airmount A* 'Owner.
^ , hone Company
. c...
:il. Telepton
GlennviU, 5,rner,
C. R- ^ hnle Georg!*-
: e Company.
Gordon Teje^^on^g^
^?J*o'don. Georg.a-"
, hone Company.
B. >i- Georgia-
, Telephone Comp
Harleffl 0^er
^v/ vm Georgia.
Harlem. rompany.
. , TelepbPn* ^
Hart Gonnty^ ,
* ^ct***-
lawkinav '
lep^bah. u
Veflic SliipP.
lir^m. Georg'*-
. Telepl>rB
Boechton Sr...
, . e Company.
Ideal Owner.
rate Telephon*
Interstate Telephf,<;''
InW^j. Barrow,
^ctnf-. Georg.*-
11, Telephone Comp
Kennedy ^d>'-ner.
^*p^er. Georg!*-
j ^;ci Georgia*
' hnne Company.
Luther"h. rompany-
. Telephone ComP
^if'c.^Seagroye. Georgia.
Route NO. I.
, -11. Telephone G^oer.
Mrs. Salhe ^ ^gia.
^Midv*R^ g. Telegraph ^o..
T. E'pg. Georgia-
Ball Grouo'! Telepl..
NeUon-R*j^ Owner.
Telephone ComP*y
Uewton jlgt..
a j;S O'"*'
Oc^ee Tel .Pj^^^well.
Odum Teleplione Company,
C. Moody. Owner,
Odum, Georgia.
Omega TcIepHone Company,
C. i. Swam, Mgr.,
Omega, Georgia.
ParVer Teiepiione Company,
PatVer, Owner,
polkston, Georgia.
Peatley Teiepiione Company,
C. R. Stanford. Owner,
Gienwood, Georgia.
Pembroke Telephone Company,
G. S. 'Williama, Owner,
Pembroke, Georgia.
Pinebnrst Tel^bone Company,
Mis. J. Vf. Broxton, Owner,
Gnadilla, Georgia.
Plains Telephone Company,
A. C. Murray, Owner,
Plains, Georgia.
Reynolds Telephone Company,
(PubUc Service Tei. Co.l
Mrs. Bessie Bond, Owner,
617 'West Adams Street,
Macon, Georgia.
Ringgold Telephone Company,
J. E. Evitt, Owner,
Ringgold, Georgia.
Roberta Telephone Company,
(Public Service Telephone Co.)
Mrs. Bessie Bond, Owner,
617 'West Adams Street,
Macon, Georgia.
Sandy Cross Telephone Company,
Mrs. F. C. Stevens,
Route No. 1, Carlton, Georgia.
Savannah 'Valley Telephone Company,
Geo. D. Perry, Receiver,
Savannah, Georgia.
St. Marys 8i 'Eingsland Telephone Co.,
' 1. F. Bailey, Jr., M^.,
St. Marys, Georgia,
Seminold Telephone Company,
, R. Jordan, Owner,
Ellavdle, Georgia.
Simpson Telephone Company,
William Simpson, Owner,
Trenton, Georgia.
Soperton T elephone Company,
0. M. Denton, Mgr.,
Soperton, Georgia.
Statesboro Telephone Company,
J. 1,. Mathews, Pres.,
Statesboro, Georgisu
Tarrytown Telephone Company,
C. 'W. Beckworth, Mgr.,
Tarrytown, Georgia.
Taylorsville Telephone Company,
G. O. Lumpkin, Owner,
Taylorsville, Georgia.
Telephone Service Company,
H. A. Chichester, Receiver,
Summerville, Georgia,
Thomaston Telephoue ti Telegraph Company,
'W. M. Mew,'Pres.,
Thomaston, Georgisi.
Toccoa Electric Power Company, (Tel. Division)
}. C. Guild, Jr., Pres.,
Power Building,
Chattanooga, Tenn.
The Trion Company,
J.E. Elliott,
Trion, Georgia.
Union Point Telephone Company,
J. H. Darby, Mgr.,
White PMina, Georgia.
Utelwico Telephone Company,
C. L. Battle, Pres.,
Ellaville, Georgia.
Vienna Telephone Company,
W. M. Turton, Mgr. Si (3wner,
Vienna, Georgia.
Walker County Telephone Co.,
W. C. Burney, Pres.,
LaFayette, Georgia.
Warwick Telephone Company,
H. P. Gleaton, Owner,
Warwick. Georgia.
Waverly Hall Telephone Company,
Geo. T. Whisnant, Mgr.,
Waverly Hall, Georgia.
Wayne Telephone Company,
Mrs. Mary Jackson (Ollier, Owner,
Odum, Georgia.
Wayne Telephone Company,
Mrs. Mary Jackson Collier, Owner,
Screven, Georgia.
Western Carohna Telephone Company,
G. J. Johnston, Mgr.,
Franklin, N. C.
Southern Bell Tdephone & Telegraph Co.,
T. Barton Baird, Georgia Manager,
Atlanta, Georgia.
Southeastern Telephone Comnanv ol Ga
W. E. Glisson, Gen. Mgr.,
kl5 East Park Avenue,
Tallahassee, Florida,
Standard Telephone Company,
M. C. York, Manager,
Clarksville, Georgia.
'Whigham Telephone Company,
Ben 'VVright, Owner,
Whigham, Georgia.
White Plains Telephone Company,
J. H. Darby, Mgr.,
White Plains, Georgia.
Wilkes Telephone Company,
O. S. Dyson, Mgr.,
Washington, Georgia.
Yateaville Telephone Company,
J. J. Fincher, Mgr.,
Yateaville, Georgia.
JANUARY 1972....David A.
Hamil, Governor of the Rural
Telephone Bank, approves a
loan of $557,500.00 to the
Plant Telephone & Power
Company. Inc., Tifton,
Georgia. This was the fifth loan
made by the Telephone Bank.
REA Loan Program
Congress responded to the needs of
rural telephony with a 1949 revision of
the Rural Electrification Administration
Loan Bill. This move, credited to
Senator Lister Hill of Alabama and
Representative W R. Poage of Texas,
was actually an amendment to the Rural
Electrification Act and provided for the
inclusion of telephone companies in a
program of low interest loans for build-
ing telephone facilities, and for rehabil-
itating and expanding existing facilities.
Many Georgia companies responded by
immediately filing applications for these
two percent, 35-year loans.
Other stipulatiions of the bill, such as
population limitations and the fact that
the lender claimed first mortgage on all
the company assets, caused this to re-
main primarily an independent company
loan program and some of the first com-
panies applied with reluctance.
The REA loan agreement provided
needed leverage to more compensatory
local rate structures. All REA loan con-
tracts set forth specific minimum local
rates to which the proposed loan was
yoked. Rates equal to or better than
those prescribed had to be authorized
by the Public Service Commission
before any funds could be drawn down.
While all Georgia Telephone Associa-
tion members are not REA borrowers,
and though it was not immediately
realized, these loans were essential to
the survival and success of some com-
panies in Georgia and all over the
United States.
The first REA loan in Georgia was
granted to Nelson-Ball Ground
Telephone Company on June 17,1952.
It was possibly a result of that loan that
the Nelson-Ball Ground Telephone
Company was the scene of the first cut-
over in Georgia. J. H. Cook was presi-
dent of the company at the time. The
second Georgia company to receive an
REA loan was Comer Telephone Com-
pany on September 23,1953, of which
John Birchmore was president. Standard
Telephone Company of Cornelia,
operated by H. M. Stewart, Sr., was third
in line.
An REA report shows that by 1959,
only ten years after the bill was passed,
Georgia telephone companies had bor-
rowed $21,950,000 to provide service
to 46,320 subscribers.
Telephone co-operatives became a by-
product of these loans. An example in
Georgia was the Bulloch Rural
Telephone Co-op, Inc. formed to serve
Brooklet, Nevil, and Portal, using REA
William Will Kelley, a long-time
friend of Georgia telephony, in his pre-
sent position as REA director. Southeast
Area-Telephone, provided the approx-
imate figures on REA loans to Georgia
telephone companies since inception of
the program in 1949 to the present.
Total amount of locins... $455,507,848
(Non-loan funds amounted
to $7,580,710)
Number of Georgia telephone
companies receiving loans since
commencement of REA........28
Number of subscribers that the REA
loans have affected.......... 347,746
Above: 1971 GTA Convention
(L-R) Nancy Kelly, Dean and Kay
Swanson, Will Kelly.
Left: H. M. Stewart, Jr. shown
accepting REA's Distinguished
Service Award from REA
Administrator David Hamil at the
1977 USITA convention. No other
Georgian has received this award.
Right: In a typical rural Georgia
scene, the sky was blackened with
proof that the long awaited
telephone had arrived.
These funds have assisted the in-
dependent telephone companies of
Georgia to increase telephone plant
thereby providing improved communica-
tion service for the state.

Last Magneto
In Georgia
An interesting event in Georgia
telephone history took place when in
March, 1960, a mock funeral was held
at which the switchboard of the last
magneto telephone exchange was buried
with proper ceremony in Milan. Before
the final rites. Mayor Echol made the
last call through the switchboard from
his grocery store in Milan.
H. C. Hearn, Jr., president and
general manager of the Dixie Telephone
Company, helped to lower the switch-
board into its grave. The headstone, a
permanent marker, was placed and in-
scribed as follows:
Here lies the last magneto tele-
phone switchboard operated in the
state of Georgia. Buried at Milan
by the Dixie Telephone Company,
this 16th day of March 1960.
Charlie Joe Mathews, a familiar and
popular figure in Georgia independent
telephony and GTA president at the
time, acted as master of ceremonies at
a banquet which followed.
John S. Seigle, then Georgia general
manager of Southern Bell Telephone
and Telegraph Company, appeared on
the program and his address Progress
Together was a highlight of the event.
Representatives from the Georgia Public
Service Commission, REA officials, GTA
members, local exchange customers,
and other invited guests joined in mark-
ing the event.
Telephones For a
Not since President Franklin D.
Roosevelt frequented Warm Springs had
Georgians been called upon to provide
full and permanent telecommunications
service for the President of the United
States until Jimmy Carter from Plains
was elected to the nations highest office.
Citizens Telephone Company with
headquarters in Leslie was summoned
to meet the challenge, since the Plains
exchange was a franchise of that
In an article written for the January
24,1977, issue of Telephony Magazine
Tommy Smith, president and owner of
the Citizens Company, stated, A presi-
dent must have access to the hot line,
there must be open circuits for the wire
service printers, and special banks of
phones for the press, the Secret Service
and other White House operations.
This meant that forecast plans for ex-
pansion of the facilities at the Plains ex-
change had to be accelerated and vast-
ly increased. Mr. Smith approached the
mandate by putting into service the com-
panys first direct distance dialing system
(ODD) and initiated touchtone calling
and simultaneously added 11 new D3
PCM toll carrier systems, all within a
three-month period.
First Lady Rosalyn Carter made the
call that inaugurated touchtone calling
service in Plains on a telephone that
would be a Christmas gift to daughter
Orders were placed for three Vidar
carrier systems. The Vidar Company
responded to the urgent need by deliver-
ing two D3 terminals within 18 days,
shipping them by air from California.
Within a week this equipment was in-
stalled and cut into service. Smith
remembers the total elapsed time from
Several Secret Service
Agents and represen-
tatives of the White House
Communications Agency
stand ready as President
Carters helicopter arrives
at the grass landing strip
at Plains, Georgia.
"LD" lines were installed
at the grass airstrip out-
side Plains for press use
each time President Carter
came home to Plains.
These lines enabled the
Press to dial directly out to
a long distance operator.
Ronny Chapman of
Citizens Telephone Co. is
shown inspecting one of
the LD lines installed for
press use during one of
President Carter's visits to
Plains during 1977, These
lines were installed to
handle the flood of calls
originating in Plains when
the President came home.
the date of our original request was on-
ly 24 days on a job that we normally
would expect to take up to three
The expansion included extended
area service (EAS), doubling service
capacity, placing terminal equipment, in-
stalling three repeaters on substantial
cable, as well as constructing an addi-
tion to the existing telephone office
building in Plains. It comes as no sur-
prise that this has been described as pro-
bably the largest expansion programin
the shortest period of time in the history
of telephony.
Occasionally other Georgia telephone
companies were called upon to provide
temporary telephone service for Presi-
dent Carter since extensive communica-
tions was required even for a brief stay.
(Authors Note: I happened to answer
the telephone at my home one weekend
when a voice said, This is the White
House calling. The caller wanted Stan-
dard Telephone Company to provide ex-
tended telephone facilities at a north
Georgia residence where President
Carter expected to get away on a
weekend fishing trip. Since Standard
Telephone Companys chairman. Milt
Stewart, Jr., was attending a USTA
meeting in Washington, I suggested that
he contact company president Dean
Swanson. Although somewhat excited at
first, Vaughn Colwell, Fred Holbrooks
and other capable people at Standard
Telephone Company made satisfactory
arrangements for the Presidents
Tommy Smith and Citizens
Telephone Company were featured in a
cover story in Telephony magazine. Mrs.
Carters picture appeared on the cover
using the new system.
It is interesting to note that all of this
happened in a city with a population of
683, a radius estimated at approximately
TOP NEWS: Optical communications to premier in
Chicago, p. 11 * AT&T urges free dual listings, p. ii *
PUC examiner: PT&T should refund money, cut rates, p. le
BICS pre-planning guides Calgary Airport project to safe landing, p. 24
Independent handles Southern White House communications (cover, p. 19)
Cover reprinted with
permission of Telephony
Shown inspecting the new
additions to the Plains
central office in December,
1976 are: (L-R) Gordon Duff
of Citizens Telephone Co.,
Billy Carter, brother of
President Carter, and Jim
Gyed, manufacturer's
Charlis Johnston of Citizens
Telephone Co. installs special
lines for use of the press in
Plains, Georgia. The various
news networks would pool"
their facilities into one outside
video feed. This is the inside of
the TV networks control center.
one mile at its widest and a main street
only a few blocks long.
Mr. Smith was eager to say that he
had the good fortune to have capable
employees, the help of a retired Bell
consultant, the cooperation of the
manufacturer, and valuable advice from
his Georgia telephone industry peers,
aiding in his success.
The Georgia Telephone Association
received a letter on November 22,1966,
from President Carter which stated:
I am proud that Citizens
Telephone Company, an in-
dependent telephone com-
pany and a member of
Georgia Telephone Associa-
tion, serves Plains, Georgia,
and my home. I wish to
thank your industry for the
service it performs in the
communications industry,
not only in Georgia but the
entire nation.
Aided by past experiences of having
already served two governors, two
senators, and three representatives.
Citizens Telephone Company provided
prompt and efficient telephone service
for the President of the United States.

9 ft'.--
DIAL 9I2S24-7II5
Each time President Carter returned home to
Plains, the White House Communications
Agency Trip Officer" would have calling cards
printed to distribute to selected staff members so
that they could have access to the presidential
NOVEMBER 4, 1980
DIAL 9I2-824-7II1
Representation On
National Associations
The National Independent Telephone
Association was formed in May, 1987,
in Chicago, Illinois. This organized
plan for joint resistance to aggressions
of the Bell company was a response to
the bullish encroachment upon the small
independent companies by the
American Bell Telephone Company.
The organized strength of this unity
brought about commitments and laws
that eventually resolved the major dif-
ferences. In the course of change, the
name eventually became the United
States Independent Telephone Associa-
tion (USITA) and then the United States
Telephone Association (USTA). The in-
dependent I was removed after the
divestiture ruling in 1984. USTA
represents the largest membership
organization in the independent
telephone industry. The unity that ex-
ists in the telephone industry today is
displayed in this organization which in-
vites membership from all telephone
In early years, Georgia played a
passive role in the national telephone
scene; however, as the Georgia
Telephone Associations strength and
prestige grew, members became restive
concerning a representation on USITAs
official board of directors. For more than
a quarter of a century the USITA board
had not drawn a representative from
either of the four southern states of
Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, or
Mississippi. As the incumbent president
of the Georgia Telephone Association
during the mid-1950s, the late John Bir-
chmore of Comer appointed himself
manager of a campaign to bring a seat
on this prestigious board to Georgia.
This drive culminated in H. M. Stewart,
Sr., Standard Telephone Company,
being named as a member of USITA
board of directors in 1958. The Georgia
Telephone Association has seen to it
that this seat continues to be filled by
a representative of Georgia telephony.
Horace W. Vaughan, now deceased, was
elected to the USITA board at a meeting
in Chicago in 1960.
When H. M. Stewart, Sr. retired from
the USITA Board after serving 12 years.
Cam Lanier, III, of Interstate Telephone
Company, West Point, was elected from
Georgia. Dean Swanson, president.
Standard Telephone Company, succeed-
ed Lanier and now fills that seat serv-
ing as vice-chairman of the organization.
The Organization for Protection and
Advancement of Small Telephone Com-
panies (OPASTCO) represents small
telephone companies and has represen-
tation from all over the United States.
Georgians who have served on the
OPASTCO board include Art and
Frances Barnes, Chickamauga
Telephone Company; Milt Stewart, Jr.,
Standard Telephone Company, and Don
Bond, Public Service Telephone Com-
pany. Mr. Bond also serves on the board
of National Exchange Carriers (NECA).
H. M. Stewart, Jr. just concluded a
tenure as president of OPASTCO, and
Art Barnes was the first Georgian to
serve in that position.
In 1982 A. M. Ben Bennett of
Pineland Telephone Cooperative was
elected director of the National
Telephone Cooperative (NTCA). Mr.
Bennett represented the Region II
geographic area, made up of Georgia,
South Carolina, Florida and the com-
monwealth of Puerto Rico.
These and other national associations
remain strong and active and have
significant impact on matters of infor-
mation, education and legislation affect-
ing all states, including Georgia.
H. Milton Stewart. Sr., (right), Chairman of the Board of the Standard Telephone Company, Cornelia,
Ga., is congratulated by President Frank S. Barnes, Jr., of the U.S. Independent Telephone Association,
upon receiving the organizations highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. The presentation took
place at USITAs 79th annual convention in Washington, D.C. Mr. Stewart celebrated his 90th birthday in
January, 1987. He was president of the Georgia firm from 1939 until 1972, when he assumed the board
chairmanship, then chairman emeritus. He was cited for his long and outstanding leadership in the
industry. Mr. Stewart is the first and only Georgian to receive this honor.
Right: Art Barnes, first Georgian to
serve as president of OPASTCO,
former GTA President.
Left: Milt Stewart, past president of
OPASTCO, as he addressed
legislative and GTA group.
Audience includes Sam Nunn,
Herman Talmadge, Phil Landrum
seated at table with Albert
Far Left: Don Bond, Public
Service Telephone Company
(second from left) visits with Mary
Eunice Jones and other friends.
Don serves on NECA board of
Left: Frances Barnes, first woman
president of GTA, former president
Chicamauga Telephone Company.
OPASTCO board member.
Far Right: Dean Swanson, third
vice-chairman of USTA, (L-R) Wes
Dodd, D. Swanson, Georgias
beloved Senator Sam Nunn and
Kay Swanson.
Part Three
Operating a frail telephone business
in an unexplored field offered many
challenges. Small telephone companies
continued to disappear and reappear as
a few strugglers went bankrupt or lack-
ed management skills and fell by the
wayside, but most succumbed to the
tempting purchase offers. There are
reports from Georgia pioneers that a
large company would invest money or
equipment with the small companies and
when the smaller company could not
pay, it would then be acquired. This is
not to imply that this type of acquisition
was a company policy; only that it did
happen in Georgia in a number of un-
contested cases.
Former commitments had not been
fuHy embraced. Misunderstanding and
resentments toward the large, outside
companies continued to mount. Having
this common bond, as well as the need
to learn from and help each other, in-
dependent state associations began to
spring up all over the country.
The first available information in-
dicates that organized independent
telephony came to the south in 1902
when the Southern Independent
Telephone Association was formed in
Charleston, South Carolina. The length
of time the organization was in existence
or the exact activities, are not known.
We do know that the following officers
were elected representing North
Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Florida.
Southern Independent
Telephone Association
March, 1902Charleston,
South Carolina
F. V. L. TurnerAtlanta, Georgia
W. G. BroreinTampa, Florida
Vice President
W. B. MooreYorkville, South Carolina
Vice President
W. W. ShawDurham, South Carolina
Vice President
P. D. LangdonAtlanta, Georgia
Secretary/T reasurer
The only other regional organization
of this time period on record was the
Southern Independent Telephone
Association formed in the fall of 1908
in Bainbridge, Georgia. It is assumed
that the motivation of this group was not
unlike its predecessor of 1902. The
following officers were elected:
Southern Independent
Telephone Association
1908Bainbridge, Georgia
Dr. J. G. DeanDawson, Georgia
Dr. W. L. MooreTallahassee, Florida
Vice President
T. E. GurrBainbridge, Georgia
Vice President
W. N. DrakePelhan, Georgia
Secretary/T reasurer
The membership of this union
represented 16,600 independent
Then in 1919, the first Georgia
Association made up entirely of Georgia
independent companies, of which we
can find record, was formed. Our
knowledge about the gathering is limited
to the degree that only the date, place
and officers elected can be passed on.
Georgia Independent
Telephone Association
1919Moultrie, Georgia
R. L. StewartMoultrie, Georgia
W. R. BowenFitzgerald, Georgia
Vice President
T. R. NunnallyMonroe, Georgia
Secretary/T reasurer
I have as yet been unable to discover
the reasons this organization did not
continue to function or any record of
its incorporation or its disbanding. I
suspect the companies were so small
that the struggling operations of the
business allowed little time for attending
to the association. Also, vast changes in
ownership weakened the unity.
There is reason to believe that there
were still many problems and misunder-
standings within the industry as in-
dicated by stories told to me by tele-
phone pioneers.
The need for organized effectiveness
persisted. Records indicate that the
association name was changed to the
Georgia Association of Independent
Companies and was reactivated on
February 13,1923, at the Hotel Ansley
in Atlanta, Georgia. The following slate
of officers was elected:
Georgia Association
of Independent
Telephone Companies
1923Atlanta, Georgia
William R. BowenFitzgerald, Georgia
W. R. HunterQuitman, Georgia
1st Vice President
J. M. DentonDouglas, Georgia
Vice President
P. D. FortuneLafayette, Georgia
Vice President
J. L. MathewsStatesboro, Georgia
Secretary/T reasurer
J. Prince WebsterAtlanta, Georgia
General Counsel
The Directors elected at the same
1923 meeting were:
W. R. Bowen, Fitzgerald
J. N. Dent, Douglas
A. A. Fincher, Canton
P. D. Fortune, Lafayette
W. D. Horton, McRae
W. R. Hunter, Quitman
W. A. Jennings, Hawkinsville
J. Smith Lanier, West Point
J. L. Mathews, Statesboro
W. M. New, Washington
As the annals of time settled the con-
troversial issues, a harmonious blend of
the Bell company and independents
began to take shape. With restructur-
ing, the Bell company was invited for the
first time to join the Georgia association.
While this 1923 organization did not
escape the ups and downs of the early
years of the industry, it can be tracked
as an embryo of our existing association.
Once again the roots were not strong
enough to withstand the menancing pro-
blems that besieged this organization.
Late in the 1920s Georgias popula-
tion neared three million and the
number of small independent companies
serving the state continued to increase.
The industry was well ensconced and the
companies again attempted to solidify
at a meeting held in 1929 at the Ansley
Hotel in Atlanta.
The voting members again elected to
include the Bell company in the associa-
tion and selected these officers to serve.
Georgia Telephone
November, 1929
Atlanta, Georgia
W. R. Bowen............President
C. G. Beck...........Vice President
J. Prince Webster.........Secretary-
(C. G. Beck was elected as director of
the organization and he is thought to
have been elected vice president.)
As a further action at the meeting,
voting privileges were designated accord-
ing to the number of connected
telephones which the company had:
0-500 telephones 1 Vote
Over 500 telephones 2 Votes
For much of this time the Bell com-
pany and independents enjoyed a
mutually satisfying association, both
learning from and helping each other.
Bob Alford told this story concerning
the Bell company.
When I joined the Commission
staff in 1934, the Bell company
had a man by the name of
Railroad Thomas who kept extra
batteries, cords and circuits
available to make repairs for small
independent companies that had
no plant people, no supplies, and
no money to get any.
He went around to the indepen-
dent companies if they had pro-
blems and offered the services he
had available. This worked to the
benefit of all parties, since improv-
ed service was good for business.
If the independent operators in
Warm Springs could not reach the
toll center, then both the Bell
company and independent were af-
fected. Bells goal was to increase
the revenue which helped every-
Transcripts of a meeting held in Atlan-
ta, at the Piedmont Hotel on February
12-13, 1937, indicate that remnants of
dissension endured. A plan to exclude
Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph
Company from the Association member-
ship was proposed and passed by a vote
of seven to three. This vote excluded
from membership a number of duly
elected officers and directors.
In November, 1937, another meeting
convened in which the actions taken at
the February meeting were nullified, and
the existing officers' and directors were
confirmed on the grounds that the vote
had not been taken in conformity with
the bylaws of the organization.
Georgia Telephone Association Banquet honoring old timers
at Biltmore Hotel. Atlanta. Georgia. Top row: Archie New.
Sam Green, , George Kinsman. Slim Poque, A.
A. Fincher, H. M. Stewart, Sr., Bonnie Parker, T. B. Baird,
Judge E. B. Emrey. Front Row; C. J. Matthews. Lonnie
Parker, Edith Green, John Birchmore, C. Hearn, C, R. Sikes.
J, Smith Lanier. (Magneto telephone presented to the
Southern Bell Telephone Museum by C. Hearn of Dixie
Telephone Company.)
Honoring Old Timers
For more than 45 years preceding the
establishment of a permanent office in
Atlanta, the business of the association
was handled on a part-time basis by
various individuals. From its inception
until about 1943 or 1944 the business
of the association was handled by J.
Prince Webster, an attorney in the city
of Atlanta. He was followed by R. S.
Bob Griffin of Monroe, Georgia. He
was succeeded by H. M. Stewart of Cor-
nelia, Georgia. Next in succession was
Mr. S. B. Sam Green of Ellijay,
Georgia. Mr. Green was followed by
Henry Cabiness of Cabiness-Hoag an ac-
counting and engineering firm. Mr.
Cabiness served for a period of one year
and was followed by E. R. Gene Britt
of Metter, Georgia. Mansfield Jennings
of Hawkinsville succeeded Mr. Britt and
served until a full-time executive was
engaged and the Atlanta office was
Sam Green (Ellijay Telephone Company).
In the battered black suitcase he carried
the GTA records until the Atlanta office
was established.
Mr. Lonnie Parker (far right)
registering at GTA Convention.
received and accumulated during the sbc
years he served as secretary were passed
on to his successor, except for the few
volumes which are still available to draw
on for this record. It is these files that
are the largest part of this report. An
outline of activities, officers and direc-
tors from this time forward is a matter
of record in the GTA newsletters.
Milton Stewart, Sr. purchased the
assets of Standard Telephone Company
of Clarkesville, Georgia, in 1939. Bring-
ing with him more than 30 years of
various telephone experience, he moved
his family to Georgia in 1945 to begin
full-time operation of the company. He
ably nurtured tbe company through
a tenure as its president enables him to
expound on the subject.
The following was written by Mr.
Stewart to shed light on the early history
of the association.
The wave of buying by syn-
dicated companies during the mid-
dle and late 1920s had an adverse
and frustrating impact on the
fledgling Georgia organization.
Among other things, sale of key
units to the syndicates robbed the
association of leadership and gen-
erated conflicts of interest. Con-
sequently, enthusiasm and activi-
ty dwindled until late 1929 when
broad revisions were made in the
A Pioneer Remembers
With the exception of the foregoing
information virtually nothing in the way
of continuity of a historical narrative or
vital records of the association is
available before H. M. Stewart, Sr.
became secretary of the association in
1946. Such material and records as he
struggling experiences with full impact
of the hardship of a small Georgia in-
dependent company. His leadership and
personal commitment to GTA, enhanc-
ed by a personality that made everyone
he met feel like his favorite child,
brought him to his seat of eminent
distinction among Georgians. Six years
as secretary of GTA, followed by
organizational structure, constitu-
tion and bylaws.
If memory serves me right, it
was in November 1929 that a
group of independent and Bell
telephone men assembled in the
Ansley Hotel in Atlanta for the
purpose of revitalizing telephone
association activity in the state of
Georgia. Out of this meeting came
the Georgia Telephone Associa-
tion. By-laws were changed to ad-
mit to active membership any in-
dividual, company or corporation
owning an operating system or
systems within the state of
Georgia. I was present during this
Within a matter of months the
adolescent organization was con-
fronted with new and difficult pro-
blems. A niagara of legislation and
regulatory edicts generated by the
New Deaf thrusts a horde of new
opportunities and demands upon
trade associations. Meanwhile, the
Georgia Telephone Association
developed a progressive case of
economic and leadership anemia.
The economic depression that
enveloped the country in the
1930s hit Georgia telephony with
a double whammy. In addition to
heavy revenue loss suffered from
diminishing use of service and
facilities, most Georgia telephone
companies were ordered by the
Georgia Public Service Commis-
sion to reduce local exchange rates
and charges by 25 percent. The
disastrous threat embedded in this
action is evidenced in the fact that
no other state tried it. Wisconsin
imposed a reduction of ten per-
cent. Continuing in effect for up-
wards of 15 years the starvation
rates combined with the ravages
of the economic depression of the
1930s literally bankrupted tele-
phony in Georgia. Fighting for
bare existence, management had
little money or time to invest in
association activity.
Instead of being able to
capitalize the challenges confront-
ing it, the Georgia Telephone
Association was forced to bring its
activities within the limits of a
declining membership and
budgetary support. For years the
association could do little more
than maintain the structural
organization. Activities were
limited to routine relationships
with state agencies and one day
annual meetings. Much credit is
due a handful of intrepid and
dedicated leaders who managed to
maintain the Georgia Telephone
Associations identity during these
Above: Mrs. Norman and Below: GTA Convention
Mrs. Nicholson working at Mr. and Mrs. Downing
registration desk. J. F. Musgrove, Mr. and Mrs. T.
Callaham and George Barton Braid. Mr. and Mrs.
Kinsman (center). John Seigle.
difficult and trying years.
Buffeted and frustrated by the
associations inability to cope with
problems common to the industry,
dissension began to develop within
the ranks. By the early 1940s the
appropriation for a legal retainers
fee was dropped from the budget
whereupon Mr. Webster resigned
as secretary-treasurer-attorney.
R. S. Griffin of Monroe was elected
secretary and W. A. Echols of
Commerce was named treasurer.
The 1944 annual meeting which
convened in the Henry Grady
Hotel in Atlanta which I attended
was devoted primarily to an open
and arms length discussion of pro-
posed re-alignment of the associa-
tions objectives and functions.
After considerable deliberation a
motion to restore the organization
to an independent (non-Bell)
status failed. Budgetary, organiza-
tional, and other changes were
adopted. Renewed interest pro-
duced by this meeting brought
much larger and more represen-
tative registrations to the 1945 and
1946 annual meetings held in the
Oglethorpe Hotel on Wilmington
Island near Savannah. In late 1945
or early 1946, A. M. (Arlie) New
of Thomaston was named
secretary to ffll the vacancy created
by R. S. Griffins resignation. The
slate of officers elected at the
November 1946 annual meeting
was headed by Mr. New of
Thomaston. I drew the post of
Manager for which I received the
stipend of $75 per month. In the
vernacular of the day, Mr. New and
I hit the ground running.
A visionary and agressive ad-
ministrator, Mr. New recognized
and was eager to grapple with the
opportunities and challenges con-
fronting the association. I brought
to my Job ten years of experience
gained as full-time, professional
business manager of the Texas
Telephone Association and the
Pennsylvania Independent Tele-
phone Association, plus 20 years
of experience in the operating and
more representative and ac-
ceptable service standards. Work
order procedures, continuing
property record systems, and
formal tariff filings were presented
and promoted through symposi-
ums and convention programs. In
1948 Mr. W. C. (Slim) Martin of
Fitzgerald succeeded Mr. New as
president of the association. He in
turn was succeeded by Ed Burney
of La Fayette, Georgia. I continued
as secretary until the 1952 annual
meeting when I was elected
president of the association.
It cannot be said that the path
was entirely free of briers and
rocks. Personal differences and
internal dissension were readily
subdued by pressing problems
Charlie Jo Matthews at speaker's podium.
Bryants and Gleatons share the head table.
Art Barnes and Lindsay Supply Company hosted ladies
luncheon at GTA convention among the faces; Eleanor
Chaffin. Jessie Callaham, Helen Stewart, Trudy Bryant,
Jenny Alford, Eileen Gleaton, Mary Barousis. Sidney Lanier.
common to the industry. A grave
crisis brought on by action of the
Bell system was resolved through
frank and arms link discussion.
About 1950 it was discovered that
the Bell system had negotiated
agreements with a number of
companies covering wide area
telephone service (WATS) without
having first reconciled the terms
and conditions of those agree-
ments with the National and State
Association. This action was
contrary to the previous
commitment by the Bell system
and triggered criticism on the part
of leaders within the independent
Fishing trip(L-R) Charles While, V.P.
Operations Commerce/Comer; Archie
Croker, Former D & R; Julius McElreath,
Retired Lineman; Melvin Ingram, C.O.
Switchperson; Vernon Manders. Plant Supv.;
Gene Brake, Operations Mgr. Byron District;
Ed Wilbanks. Former C. O. Supv.; W. L.
New. Sr., Former Owner Commerce
Telephone Company.
manufacturing Helds. Mr. New con-
centrated on the political arena
and on involving the membership
in the association activities. I gave
preferred attention to the associa-
tions capabilities and image. A lot
of time and energy was invested in
visiting telephone managers in
their home offices up and down
and across the state.
Fed by increasing interest, mem-
bership, and financial support the
program and functions of the as-
sociation soon took on new dimen-
sions. Within a matter of months
the Georgia Telephone Associa-
tion W35 well on the way toward
becoming one of the nations
viable state oganizations. Annual
meetings had been extended into
three day conventions featuring
dynamic and informative pro-
grams. Functional committees had
been established and prodded in-
to action. Convention programs
and symposiums were designed to
assist companies in better man^e-
ment and administrative practices.
Good accounting principles were
promoted as the key to financing
and revised rate structures.
Sources of capital for financing
purposes were tapped and man-
agements were encouraged to seek
rate revision that would underwrite
GTA Convention Jekyl Island (L-R) Bob and
Jenny Alford, Gene Fritt, Jim and Jessie
Callaham, Baldy" White, , Charlie
Eberhart, , C. J. Matthews.
segment of the industty. At a hasti-
ly convened meeting of the officers
and directors of the Georgia
Telephone Association held in the
Dempsey Hotel in Macon,
Georgia, representatives of the
Bell company were subjected to
criticism of this act. It was further
agreed that all telephone com-
panies that had not already done
so should be advised to refrain
from signing any agreement cover-
ing WATS service until the terms
and conditions thereof had been
agreed to by the United States In-
dependent Telephone Association.
Like action in other Jurisdictions
brought the Bell system to the
council table where an equitable
and acceptable WATS agreement
was soon fashioned. Thus,
cooperative effort brought the
issue to a close.
Milton Stewarts contributions to GTA
and his knowledge of the industry lies
in his broad association experience and
in the leadership apparent in the GTA
newsletter files, but more significant, are
the accounts from GTA pioneers who
told about his sustaining role in these
nurturing years. I wish it was possible
to repeat here all the endearing stories
that Mr. Stewart has of special people
and his exciting experiences all over the
1 "I
'1 'Si|r!F
1952Thomaston conversion from common battery to dial. The New family has been active in the
telephone business in Georgia since 1910 when W. M. New built the Bartow system. After selling the
Bartow system, he bought and sold exchanges at Metier and Washington. His son, W. L., an operator
at Bartow, said, I never saw a telephone until then. W. M. New operated the Thomaston Telephone
Company from 1927 until his death in 1944. His sons, A. M. "Arlie and W. L. Lafayette, continued
operation of the company until 1949 when W. L. purchased the Commerce Telephone Company, A. M.
was joined by his sons, W. Madison and Mobley, in running the Thomaston company and W. L. was
assisted by his sons, W. L., Jr. and Grant, at the Commerce company. W. M. New served as GTA
president from 1933-1944. A. M. Arlie served as secretary from 1945-1945, and W. Madison New
was GTA president in 1967-68.
1944- 1945
1945- 1946
1946- 1952
GTA Secretaries
J. Prince Webster (Secretary, Treasurer, Attorney) Atlanta Attorney
A. M. Arlie New President Thomaston Telephone Company
R. S. Bob Griffin Monroe
H. M. Stewart President, Standard Telephone Company
S. B. Green Ellijay Telephone Company
Henry Cabiness Cabiness-Hoag Accounting and Engineering Firm
E. R. George Britt - President, Metter Telephone Company
Mansfield Jennings President, Hawkinsville Telephone Company
Bob Hayes Atlanta Attorney (First Paid Fulltime Executive)
(Atlanta Office Established)
Charles Lindsey Atlanta, Georgia
John P. Silk Atlanta, Georgia
GTA Forges Ahead
Matt L. McWhorter, former chairman
of the Georgia Public Service Commis-
sion made the following comment to the
GTA members shortly after his retire-
ment from the Commission.
One of the nicest things con-
nected with my service on the
Commission has been my close
contact with the telephone in-
dustry, particularly the in-
dependents. I had the pleasure of
seeing many of you grow from
small, inconspicuous businesses
where the only records maintain-
ed were carried in your hip
pockets to businesses of real im-
portance to your communities and
your state. The result of that
tremendous growth is obvious to
everyone. Telephone services
rendered by the independents are
equal to any to be found anywhere
and the important position of
respect that you now occupy in
your respective communities and
your state is one to which all of us
can look with pride.
This pride McWhorter mentions has
caused telephony to be an avocation for
many GTA members who were
dedicated to opening the windows of
communication to Georgians.
The association formed of in-
dependents, holding companies and the
Bell company faced obstacles inbred in
the rapidly developing industry.
Together and separately they were oc-
cupied with these distractions.
Schools of instruction and sym-
posiums were started for the purpose of
teaching and training. Efforts were made
to keep the membership informed of
new advances, availability of equipment
and any opportunities for refinement.
Annual fishing trips were organized in
an effort to help maintain a good work-
ing relationship within the association.
These were enjoyed and did in fact ac-
complish that goal.
The period that began in the 1950s
brought growth and prosperity to the
GTA member companies. REA loans
had an impact, also funding from banks
and private sources (including telephone
manufacturing companies) loosened up
and brought about awaited im-
provements in telephone plant.
Mansfield Jennings. Jr.,
Hawkinsville Telephone Company
GTA President 1965-1966.
As the managers were able to make
the transition from old, outdated equip-
ment to new or used equipment and
from manual to dial, there was cause for
celebrations as these cutovers occur-
red. Invitations were extended to join
the festivities, and the celebration often
included an open house and a barbecue
or a dinner to mark the occasion.
Telephone companies were barbecu-
ing all over the state.
Congressman Phil Landrum, Gene
Blanton, Milt Stewart.
TopGlenn Bryant. Jimmy
Gleaton, SeatedGene Britt,
Charlie Joe Mathews. Few
have contributed more to
Georgia independent
telephony than these four.
Below: Rural CelebrationJohnson Corner, near Lyons,
1953. Speakers at the barbecue at New Branch School
commemorating completion of the Big Johnson Corner rural
telephone project were, seated, Eugene Brogdon, Toombs
County Agent; E. C. Bowen. Southern Bell's district manager
at Savannah: W. B. Hart, chairman of the telephone
committee; R. 0. Clark, master of ceremonies and president
of Toombs County Farm Bureau; standing. Dr. Fred Smith,
pastor, Lyons Baptist Church; Ross Bowen. Toombs County
Commissioner; R, B, Alford, service engineer. Georgia Public
Service Commission.
Left: Conversion of McRay
magneto to dial,. (L-R)
Southeastern Telephone
Company President,' Mayor,
Bob Alford, W.C. Martin,
general manager, McRay.
Above: 1970Brantley Telephone Company celebrating
$600,000 REA loan and DDD conversion at Nahunta.
(L-R) Jackie Turnlin, T. E. Raulerson, Nahuntas mayor.
Mr. and Mrs. Avery Strickland.
To this point all of the business of the
association had been handled by the
secretary. The office was handed down
in a little black suitcase which held all
the records of the association (which
helps to explain the limited availability
of historical records).
As the companies began to thrive it
became evident that the need for a per-
manent office for the association was
becoming a real possibility. The search
began for office space and for a prospec-
tive candidate to operate that office.
Concurrently, in 1967, GTA President
Madison New received a letter withdraw-
ing Southern Bells membership from
the association.
Opening of a permanent office in
Atlanta proved to be a turning point for
GTA. Several years of effort culminated
GTA Legislative luncheon.
Washington, D.C."A thank you
for some very special people."
in the election on May 1, 1967, of
Robert W. Bob Hayes as the executive
secretary of the association. Bobs
management of the Atlanta office
enhanced and enlarged association ac-
tivities, as a result, he was very popular.
Bobs resignation, after seven years,
brought about the election of Charles
Lindsey in 1974 to operate the GTA of-
fice. Charles successful tenure was ac-
companied by vast changes in the in-
dustry which placed great demands on
the GTA office. Aided by his past
business and military experience,
Charles met those demands. He
spearheaded the activity as the associa-
tion became heavily involved in
legislative affairs, negotiations among
connecting companies, making Georgia
Public Service Commission information
available, and pulling together a system
of effectiveness for operating companies.
Charles retired in 1987, after 13 years
Congressman Larry McDonald
with Art and Frances Barnes.
Above: Buddy Bishop Below: Senator Sam Nunn
checking badges. visits GTA.
with GTA. John P. Silk was elected to
fill that vacancy.
Georgia independent telephone
managements have long recognized
their responsibility as citizens of the
community and state. They are especial-
ly aware of the benefits to be dervied
from promoting community progress
and welfare. Telephone company
managers acknowledge that an
economically and socially healthy com-
munity offers more than a profitable
market for the product. Such an at-
mosphere insures more contented,
dedicated, and productive employees.
Consequently, telephone people are
often found occupying key leadership
Maaison New ana Mary
Eunice Jones listen to Jack
roles in community and area-wide civic,
charitable service, and church organiza-
tions. However, the nature of the
business recommends low visibility in
political affairs. As is true with most
established rules there have been some
exceptions. The late W. M. New, one-
time owner and operator of the
Thomaston Telephone system, served in
the house chamber of the Georgia
General Assembly. Glenn Bryant, chief
stockholder and chairman of the board
of the Coastal Telephone Company of
Hinesville, is currently serving in the
senate chamber of the Georgia
Legislature. The late Jim Peters, one-
time joint owner of the Mutual
Telephone Company of Manchester,
served for a protracted period as
statewide chairman of the democratic
party and was for many years the
popular chairman of the Georgia State
Board of Education. Members such as
these have brought pride to the
GTA is now an essential organ of the
Georgia independent telephone in-
dustry. Active participation, common
goals and stubborn persistence were the
prerequisites that anchored the GTA
and framed the bonds of unity that
would preserve it as the arms of tele-
phony reach over the state of Georgia.
Georgia telephony in 1987 is still
adapting to deregulation, growth, and
Danny Bryant and Charlie Joe
Mathews visit with USITA
president-speaker at the
Former GTA President, Gene
Blanton, welcomes Public
Service Commissioner Ben
Wiggins to the podium.
changing technology. Joint efforts and
the oneness of association membership
provide optimum resource advantages.
This unity is reinforced each year as
company representatives are able to pro-
fit from attending program and receiv-
ing information designed around over-
coming obstacles to progress.
Paramount among the aspects of
membership in GTA is the opportunity
to attend the conventions. These gather-
ings are held annually and usually meet
at a popular location within the state of
Georgia. For a short time GTA and the
1980Tom Johnson, outgoing
GTA president, presents the
gavel and congratulations to
Jackie Tomlin, Brantley
Telephone Company.
South Carolina Telephone Association
(SCTA) met Jointly, thus offering each
association a larger selection of conven-
tion locationsalternating from Georgia
to South Carolina every other year.
While this was a very popular concept,
it was short-lived simply because of the
GTA members like to believe that
Georgia conventions compare favorably
with their counterparts across the coun-
try. These two to three day meetings are
a successful means of keeping the par-
ticipants and members abreast of the
latest information available in the in-
dustry. Frequenting the educational con-
ferences are distinguished represen-
tatives of government, REA, AT&T, Bell
companies, other telephone companies,
USTA and the Georgia Public Service
Commission, as well as popular political
figures. After the program curriculum is
adjourned, there often are long, plea-
sant dinners among good friends. These
friendships form a bond of kinship
among the telephone family of Georgia.
GEORGIA ZJelepkone cA^^iation
(404) 321-5440
May 14, 1987
Charles H. Lindsey
Dear Georgia Telephone Association Members:
Thank you for allowing me, Charles H. Lindsey, to serve as Executive
Vice President of the Georgia Telephone Association from February 1975
until July 1987. I have enjoyed being of service and the friendships
I have established.
My first official function was The Annual Bird Supper which we have
seen grow to be one of the events most looked forward to by our
legislators. Participation by companies and state officials has been
great. We have even had a presidential candidate have supper with us.
Our conventions have been a highlight of each year. We have had excellent
speakers each year and entertainment has been outstanding. We even had
a performer who won an award for his songs on the country music award
show. Our suppliers, associates, have always contributed much to the
success of each convention.
The association has collectively taken part in several generic hearings
at the Public Service Commission and have had a very good relationship
with commissioners and staff. Increase in depreciation, inside wiring,
and customerowned eguipment have been major areas of concern and hard
work by committees.
Divestiture certainly got our attention and caused many, many meetings
both with Bell, AT&T, and the Public Service Commission. We have been
most fortunate to have had the services of an outstanding attorney to
help us over the hard spots. Freeman Leverett has done the association
a great job.
The officers and committees have worked with great fervor and the
association has made many strides forward over the past years. Thanks
for your hard work and dedication. Good wishes for each member in the
Charles H. Lindsey 1
No record has been found of dates and locations of GTA conventions prior to the year 1944. We include this information
for possible memories that might be stirred of happy times spent with GTA friends and for Georgia telephone company operators
to see how many they remember attending.
1944 Unknown Henry Grady Hotel, Atlanta
1945 Nov. 22-23 General Oglethorpe, Wilmington Island, Savannah
1946 Unknown General Oglethorpe, Wilmington Island, Savannah
1947 Nov. 10-11 Henry Grady Hotel, Atlanta
1948 Nov. 15-16 Henry Grady Hotel, Atlanta
1949 Nov. 14-15 Henry Grady Hotel, Atlanta
1950 Nov. 9-10 Dempsey Hotel, Macon
1951 Nov. 8-9 Dempsey Hotel, Macon
1952 Oct. 27-28 Henry Grady Hotel, Atlanta
1953 Nov. 16-17 Henry Grady Hotel, Atlanta
1954 Nov. 12-13 Bon Air Hotel, Augusta
1955 Nov. 17-18 DeSoto Hotel, Savannah
1956 Nov. 15-17 Bon Air Hotel, Augusta
1957 Unknown General Oglethorpe, Savannah
1958 Unknown General Oglethorpe, Savannah
1959 Nov. 11-12 Dinkier Plaza, Atlanta
1960 Nov. 9-10 Biltmore Hotel, Atlanta
1961 Sept. 14-15 Corsair Motel, Jekyll Island
1962 Sept. 13-14 Corsair Motel, Jekyll Island
1963 Sept. 11-13 Atlanta Biltmore Hotel, Atlanta
1964 Nov. 4-5 Atlanta Americana Hotel, Atlanta
1965 Sept. 9-10 Stuckeys Carriage Inn, Jekyll Island
1966 Sept. 7-9 Atlanta Marriott, Atlanta
1967 Oct. 21-25 SS AriadneConvention Cruise
1968 Oct. 9-11 Regency Hyatt House, Atlanta
1969 Sept. 17-20 Savannah Inn & Country Club, Savannah
1970 Sept. 9-12 Marriott Motor Hotel, Atlanta
1971 Sept. 15-18 DeSoto Hilton Hotel, Savannah
1972 May 24-27 Marriott Motor Hotel, Atlanta
1973 June 5-8 Miljs Hyatt House, Charleston, S.C.
1974 June 12-14 DeSoto Hilton Hotel, Savannah
1975 Apr. 20-23 Myrtle Beach Hilton, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
1976 June 13-15 Peachtree Plaza Hotel, Atlanta
1977 June 14-16 Holiday Inn, Jekyll Island
1978 June 11-13 DeSoto Hilton Hotel, Savannah
1979 June 10-12 Stouffers Pinelsle, Lake Lanier
1980 June 15-17 Holiday Inn, Jekyll Island
1981 June 17-19 Savannah Inn & Country Club, Savannah
1982 June 16-18 Atlanta Marriott, Atlanta
1983 June 15-17 Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
1984 June 13-15 Stouffers Pinelsle Resort, Lake Lanier Islands, Buford
1985 June 23-25 Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain
1986 June 18-20 Hyatt Regency Hotel, Savannah
1987 June 21-24 Holiday Inn, Jekyll Island
Associate Members
The cost of printing this publication
was further offset by:
Peach State Chapter
Independent Telephone Pioneers
of America
The Georgia Telephone Association
has long been closely intertwined with
companies which manufacture and sell
telephone equipment or services to the
telephone industry. In Georgia we have
been richly blessed with some of the
finest, nicest people who fall into the
associate membership category. Some
of them have been as much a part of our
organization and our bistory as company
owners and operators.
The following associate members of
the Georgia Telephone Association have
given financial support to this
ADC Telecommunication, Inc.
ALLTEL Supply, Inc.
Arthur Andersen & Co.
Associate Members Committee
AT&T Communications
CMC Telecom Corporation
Engineering Associates, Inc.
Fail Engineering Company, Inc.
GTE Directories Corporation
GTE Supply
Jackson, Phillips, & Casto
3M/Telecom Products Division
McCall-Thomas Engineering Co., Inc.
Miller & Young
Northern Telecom, Inc.
Northern Telecom, Inc. (Cook Electric
Power & Telephone Supply Company,
R-TEC Systems
Teledata Corporation
United States Technologies, Inc.
U. S. Intelco Networks, Inc.
Webb Communications, Inc.
Above: (L-R) Ruth Smith, Ed
Burney, Tommy Smith, John
Sims, Ham Foster.
Below: Ed Burney, Donna
and Sammy Warren.
Bob Bruce, Jim Pounds.
The GTA Board of Directors in recognition of the important contributions made by the men and women who have unselfishly
served as presidents of the association have appropriately elected to dedicate this history to the following individuals.
1945- 1946
1946- 1947
1947- 1948
1948- 1949
1949- 1950
1950- 1951
1952- 1953
1953- 1954
Georgia Telephone Association Past Presidents
R. L. Stewart
W. R. Bowen
W. R. Bowen
W. M. New
J. E. Kirk
A. F. Fincher, Jr.
A. M. New
A. C. Seward
W. C. Martin
E. P. Burney
H. M. Stewart
J. H. Wright
John Birchmore
1959- 1960
1960- 1961
1961- 1962
1962- 1963
1963- 1964
1967- 1968
1968- 1969
1969- 1970
1970- 1971
1971- 1973
Downing Musgrove
Charlie Joe Mathews
J. P. Gleaton
Jim Evitt
Glenn E. Bryant
Cam B. Lanier, Jr.
W. M. Jennings, Jr.
Madison New
Joseph R. Dyson
Dean C. Swanson
Cam B. Lanier, Jr.
Art W. Barnes
H. M. Stewart, Jr.
1974- 1975
1975- 1976
1976- 1977
1977- 1978
1978- 1979
1979- 1980
1980- 1981
1981- 1982
1982- 1983
1983- 1984
1984- 1985
1985- 1986
1986- 1987
Don E. Bond
Fred L. Bailey
Gene Blanton
W. C. DeLoach
Daniel M. Bryant
Thomas L. Johnson
Jackie Tumlin
H. C. Hearn, Jr.
Frances V. Barnes
Fred W. Hodges
Tommy Smith
Betty Gleaton
George Carswell
Seated: A. L. New. Standing: (L-R) Bill Bryan
Sou. BellMacon Dist. Mgr., Geo. MasakEng,
Sou. Div.Stormberg Carlson, Lane HubbardSou. Bell
Ga. Mgr., Claude YalesSou. BellComm. Mgr.,
H. M. StewartStandard Tel. Co., Moon" Mollands
Stromberg-Carson, Stromberg CarlsonMfg. Representative
George CarswellWilkinson County Telephone Company, Inc.
Mary Eunice JonesWaverly Hall Telephone Company
Sid LintonGeneral Telephone of the South
Fred HodgesBulloch Telephone Cooperative, Inc.
Planters Telephone Cooperative
Dean SwansonStandard Telephone Company
Charles H. Lindsey
George CarswellWilkinson County Telephone Company, Inc.
Mary Eunice JonesWaverly Hall Telephone Company
Sid LintonGeneral Telephone Company of the South
Fred HodgesBulloch/Planters Telephone Cooperative
Dean SwansonStandard Telephone Company
Betty GleatonPlant Telephone and Power Company, Inc.
Don PartinContinental Telephone Company of the South
Steve MaginnisALLTEL Georgia, Inc.
Danny BryantCoastal Utilities, Inc.
Frances BarnesChickamauga Telephone Corporation
Ed MullisProgressive Rural Telephone Co-op, Inc.
Bill TatumTrenton Telephone Company
Robert LetcherPembroke Telephone Company, Inc.
Cam Lanier, IIIInterstate Telephone Company
Don BondPublic Service Telephone Company
Jack BartonHart County Telephone Company
Rodney WebbWalker County Telephone Company
Charles DeLoachGeorgia Telephone Corporation
A. "Go by Phone" car tags were very popular with GTA
members in early 1970s.
B. (L-R) Charles Deloach and Dennis Lewis.
C. Jack Barton, president Hart County Telephone Company.
D. Kathy White added smiles, zest and efficiency to the GTA
staff for a few years.
E. & F. Leon B. Adams (1914-1982)Purchased Glenwood
Telephone Company in 1943, daughter Janice OBrien now
operates company.
G. (L-R) Ed and Catheran Burney, Sarah and John Sims.

H. Charles Lindsey at the helm.
I. Swinging and swaying with John
J. Say "Cheese.
K. The Searsons at GTA dinner.
L. Registration desk-48th annual
GTA convention.
M. Former GTA President Fred
Bailey at podium, Mitch Drew in
' r,
N. Tommy Smith telling it like it is to Danny Sterling,
Fred Bailey and Madison New.
O. Mr. and Mrs. Jim Callaham departing the U.S.S.
Ariadne. This was the only GTA convention to be held
on a cruise ship.
P. Ladies Night Out GTA convention, Bon Air Hotel,
Augusta, GeorgiaCatheran Burney and Mrs. Clark, Walker
County Telephone Company.
Q. Mitch and Ann Drew visit with Mrs. Bishop and Donna
R. Outstanding pioneer Talmadge Brazel pinning on GTA
name tags.
S. (L-R) Kay Swanson, Mrs. Callaham, Beverlyn Bond with
back to camera. (Sidney Lanier behind Kay.)
T. Georgia Aqrirama, Tifton, Georgia (L-R) Forb Spinks,
GPSCBetty Gleaton, Pres. Plant Telephone Company-
Buddy Langley, GTE,
U. Wilbur Council, Jack Brinkley, Don Bond.
V. Congressman Bo Ginn second from left, Danny Bryant and
Ben Bennett looking on.

Telephone Pioneers
of America
In 1911, the nations first pioneer
telephone association, Telephone
Pioneers of America, was created within
the Bell Telephone Company. This na-
tional civic and social organization has
reached immeasureable heights in ser-
vice to mankind. The bylaws of this
association limited membership to peo-
ple having 21 years of service within the
Bell system. This has since been reduc-
ed to 18 years of service. Four
presidents of this prestigious pioneer
organiztion have risen from the ranks
of the Southern Bell Company.
(L-R) Earl Kidd, Harry White,
Rodney WebbEarl ana Harry
have been among the 'corner-
stones" of ITPA in Georgia.
Telephone Pioneer
The Independent Telephone Pioneer
Association (ITPA) is a national non-
profit service organization within the in-
dustry. A small group of independent
telephone pioneers founded the
organization in 1920 in Chicago, Illinois.
At the organizational meeting the pur-
poses of the group were set down and
the qualifications for membership were
fixed at 15 years in the telephone or
telephone-related industry. Although it
has been debated a number of times,
this time stipulation still remains. At that
first Chicago meeting. Hart F. Farwell
was elected to serve as president of the
nations first Independent Telephone
Pioneer Association. B. Y. Chambers, of
Moultrie, was elected as one of 33 found-
ing regional vice presidents designated
from all over the United States.
ITPA is held in high esteem as it
represents the pilgrimage of the
telephone industry. It has become one
of the largest and finest philanthropic
groups of its kind in the world. The
organization embodies the ideas and
traditions that should be preserved in
the industry. (The historical committee
headed by Pioneer Joseph M. Keating
is encouraging an all out effort for every
state association to prepare a thorough
and permanent record of its history.)
The philosophy and goals of the
organization had a special appeal that
caused membership to soar. This
mushrooming growth required the
organization to sub-divide into state
clubs and then into individual chapters
within the states.
Representatives of the components of
the organization collect themselves at
the USTA convention in an annual
pioneer event that has become a
highlight of the USTA convention. In
Encased old wooden wall
phone preserved and
displayed by Dixie Pioneer
recent years these pioneer events includ-
ed a concert by the Boston Pops and
a performance by comedian George
In addition to the local chapter and
state projects, the organization also
takes on an annual project. What bet-
ter way for the telephone industry to
reach out and touch someone?
Charitable and generous efforts by
pioneer clubs and individuals cannot be
exaggerated. Between Bell and the in-
dependent companies, literally
thousands of pioneer projects are in the
works over the United States at any
given time.
The ten Peach State clubs are active
and have completed a long list of
charitable projects within our state. It
can be fairly stated that the pioneer
members and clubs are the pride of
Georgia telephony.
Hall of Fame
The independent telephone Hall of
Fame was established in 1964 to iden-
tify and honor those individuals who
merit recognition for their outstanding
accomplishments and service to the in-
dependent telephone industry.
The ITPA Honors Committee is
responsible for receiving nominations to
the Hall of Fame and for selecting and
placing in nomination qualified can-
didates. Election is made by secret ballot
by the Honors Court, which consists of
25 members appointed by the president
of ITPA. To be elected to the Hall of
Fame, a candidate must receive a
favorable vote from at least 19 of the 25
committee members. H. M. Stewart was
elected to the National ITPA Hall of
Fame in 1983.
The Peach State Chapter of the ITPA
was organized in the state of Georgia
when H. M. Stewart of Standard
Telephone Company, Cornelia, Georgia
and 49 others petitioned the national
organization for permission to charter
in August, 1970.
The following names appeared as
charter members of the organization:
Hugh E. Allen
Joseph Arich, Jr.
Talmadge T. Brazel
Hardy J. Bush
Charles D. Case
James T. Casper
William B. Cox
Benjamin F. Dixon
Daisy B. Dunn
Jim Evitt, Jr.
John A. Farrar, Jr.
W. H. Foster, Jr.
T. Evans Gates
Delores F. Giddens
J. P. Gleaton
Rex Goss
Dominick J. Grandinatti
Jo-Ann B. Griffin
Joseph E. Harris
H. C. Hearn, Jr.
Mary R. Hopkins
Jimmie R. Hunter
Delma Clarence Jackson
Faye R. Jones
H. M. Stewart Sr. (L) receives
a plaque from M. Wilson
Garnette to commemorate
Mr. Stewart's election into the
ITPA Hall of Fame on Peach State Hall of Famer
October 16, 1983. Avery Strickland1985.
Earl D. Kidd
Milo R. Kingsbury
Mrs. Billie J. Lain
Mary B. Little
W. L. Mollands
W. Madison New
Charles W. Oberleitner
Attica J. Powell
L. Kenneth Powley
Mrs. Zelma B. Rash
Mrs. Ferril Schuler
Daniel T. Shearer
Albert N. Seward
Virginia E. Shoffner
Clay F. Bidwell
Aubrey E. Sikes, Sr.
William C. Stanley
H. M. Stewart
R. H. Stone
Alvin C. Stratton
Hugh D. Suggs
Frank Veal
Winifred D. Waller
Garvice G. Wells
J. Frances Whaley
Mrs. Mary Carter Wilson
Bryon D. Godbee
William R. Payne
Mary V. Spooner
Mrs. Lilliam C. Taylor
Harry L. Turner
Under the leadership and planning of
Mr. Stewart, the first annual meeting was
held at the Marriott Motel, Atlanta,
Georgia, on September 10, 1976. The
following charter officers and directors
were presented by James Gleaton,
Tifton, Georgia, chairman of the
nominating committee, and elected.
Ed Burney inducted into the Peach State Chapter
Hall of Fame.
Charter Officers
President, Earl D. KiddMetter,
Vice President, W. B. CoxCornelia,
Secretary/Treasurer, Charles W.
OberleitnerMoultrie, Georgia
C. J. MathewsStatesboro, Georgia
Dan ShearerSylvania, Georgia
John SimsAtlanta, Georgia
Ron BeattyMoultrie, Georgia
Earl KiddMetter, Georgia
Harry White41bany, Georgia
W. B. CoxCornelia, Georgia
Charles W. OberleitnerMoultrie,
Roy OsborneClaxton, Georgia
Director Emeritus
H. M. StewartCornelia, Georgia
State chapters also recognize tele-
phone pioneers by awarding the Hall of
Fame distinction to outstanding in-
dividuals within the state organization.
Peach State Chapter
Hall of Fame Members
H.M. Stewart, Sr. 1978
Edward P. Burney 1981
James L. Kirk 1982
George Rose 1984
Glenn E. Bryant 1984
James E. Evitt, Sr. 1984
Earl D. Kidd 1984
Avery Strickland 1985
Henry Davis 1986
Jim Berry 1986
Earl Kidd, inducted into the Peach State Chapter
Hall of Fame June 14, 1984,
Above Left: Doris Stephens
and Ronald Beatty, key
organizer of the Pinetree
Pioneer Club, hold framing
acknowledging club's
charter members.
Above: (L-R) Jimmy Berry.
CONTELAlbert Harrison,
EllijayRonald Beatty,
GENTELDoris Stephens.
Standardhappy to have
Pine Tree Club in Peach
State Chapter.
Below: Dean Swanson,
president, Standard
Telephone Company,
making presentation to
national ITPA President
Doris Stephens for
outstanding performance.
National IPTA President Jack
LeMaster and ITPA Vice President
Frank Barnes presented the charter to
Mr. Kidd, who in turn presented it to
Mr. Stewart, in recognition of his leader-
ship in forming the organization.
The following Peach State Chapter
Pioneer Clubs have been formed and are
presently active in the state of Georgia.
Key Organizer
Doris Stephens
David Spell
Roger Vickens
Edward Daymans
Ronald Beatty
Roger Hester
Jim Berry
Mary Searson
Bill Ford
Jean Mize
The men and women who make up
the Peach State Chapter wear a badge
of honor in the telephone industry. Each
individual club has distinguished itself
by unselfishly giving to club projects that
benefit those less fortunate and by bring-
ing unexpected pleasures to the often
A Bouquet for
Doris Stephens
In 1985 Doris Stephens of Standard
Telephone Company, Cornelia, rose to
a hallmark that no other Georgian has
attained when she accepted the gavel to
become the ITPA president. She serv-
ed the national independent telephone
pioneer association with the wealth of
kindness, warmth and sincerity that is
hers. In doing so she brought honor to
the Peach State Chapter and especially
to the H. M. Stewart, Sr. Pioneer Club.
H. M. Stewart, Sr. Pioneer Club
North Georgia Pioneer Club
H. W. Tuttle Pioneer Club
Coastal Empire Pioneer Club
Pinetree Pioneer Club
Lookout Mountain Pioneer Club
Contel Pioneers of Georgia
Dixieland Pioneer Club
Charles Wohlstetter Pioneer Club
Unity Pioneer Club
Date Chartered
Peach State Chapter Past Presidents
1974- 75
1975- 76
1976- 77
1977- 78
1978- 79
Earl Kidd
Dan Shearer
Carl Anderson
San Shawhan
Doris Stephens
Albert Harrison
Ronald Beatty
Earl Phillips
1981- 82
1982- 83
1983- 84
1984- 85
1985- 86
1986- 87
David Spell
Edward Haymans
Bill Ford
Harry White
Harry Davis
Earl Kidd
Talmadge Brazel
Peach State Chapter ITPA Board of Directors
Ronald AllenUnity Pioneer ClubALLTEL
Jim BerryCONTEL Pioneers of GeorgiaCONTEL
Talmadge BrazelPinetree Pioneer Club(Retired) GTE
John BuntingNorthern Telecom
Harry DavisLookout Mountain Pioneer ClubDa Tel Fibernet, Inc.
Bill FordCONTEL Pioneers of GeorgiaCONTEL
John GulichCoastal Empire Pioneer Club(Retired) Coastal Utilities
Earl KiddLookout Mountain Pioneer ClubWalker County Telephone Company
John LongCoastal Empire Pioneer ClubCoastal Utilities
Richard MartinH. M. Stewart, Sr. Pioneer ClubStandard Telephone Company
Jack MayfieldCONTEL Pioneers of GeorgiaCONTEL
Fred McGeheeCharles Wohlstetter Pioneer ClubCONTEL
Mary SearsonDixieland Pioneer Club(Retired) Pineland Telephone Co-op
Doris StephensH. M. Stewart, Sr. Pioneer ClubStandard Telephone Company
Harry WhiteNorthern Telecom
H. M. Stewart, Sr.H. M. Stewart, Sr. Pioneer ClubStandard Telephone Company
Peach State Chapter ITPA Officers
Talmadge BrazelPresident Jim BerryVice President and Secretary/Treasurer
The following histories were submit-
ted by the respective individucJ com-
panies. Thanks seems like such a
small word to express gratitude for the
countless hours that have been devoted
to the many contributions in this effort.
It was with that saime devotion that the
contributions were reworked, edited and
used further in the text to achieve a
desired level of reader acceptance while
retaining a basic factual credibility. Our
desire is that with the multiformity of
narrative we have painted an accurate
picture of telephony in Georgia and that
we have represented the companies in
a manner that is pleasing.
Part Five
Number Name of Company Headquarters Page
AT&T............................................................Atlanta, Georgia 124
1 Alltel Corporation.............................................Commerce, Georgia 128
2 Alma Telephone Company, Inc........................................Alma, Georgia 130
3 Blue Ridge Telephone Company.................................Blue Ridge, Georgia 131
4 Brantley Telephone Company, Inc...............,...............Nahunta, Georgia 132
5 Bulloch County Rural Telephone Coop., Inc....................Statesboro, Georgia 133
6 Camden Telephone and Telegraph Company, Inc...................St. Marys, Georgia 134
7 Chickamauga Telephone Corporation...........................Chickamauga, Georgia 136
8 Citizens Telephone Compamy, Inc..................................Leslie, Georgia 139
9 Coastal Utilities, Inc.......................................Hinesville, Georgia 143
10 Continental Telephone Company of the South (CONTEL)..........Glennville, Georgia 145
11 Darien Telephone Gompany, Inc....................................Darien, Georgia 147
12 Ellijay Telephone Company.......................................Ellijay, Georgia 148
13 Empire Telephone Company (ALLTEL CORP.)...........................Comer, Georgia 150
14 Fairmount Telephone Company, Inc..............................Fairmount, Georgia 152
15 General Telephone Company of the Southeast.....................Moultrie, Georgia 153
16 Georgia Telephone Corporation...................................Blakely, Georgia 157
17 Glen wood Telephone Company....................................Glenwood, Georgia 158
18 Hart County Telephone Company..................................Hartwell, Georgia 159
19 Hawkinsville Telephone Company.............................Hawkinsville, Georgia 161
20 Interstate Telephone Company.................................West Point, Georgia 162
21 Nelson-Ball Ground Telephone Company.............................Nelson, Georgia 164
22 Pembroke Telephone Company, Inc................................Pembroke, Georgia 166
23 Pineland Telephone Cooperative, Inc..............................Metter, Georgia 167
24 Plant Telephone and Power Company................................Tifton, Georgia 169
25 Planters Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc.....................Nr''ngton, Georgia 174
26 Progressive Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc..................... Rentz, Georgia 175
27 Public Service Telephone Company...............................Reynolds, Georgia 176
28 Quincy Telephone Company (TDS CORP)..............................Quincy, Georgia 179
29 Ringgold Telephone Company.....................................Ringgold, Georgia 183
30 Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company...................Atlanta, Georgia 185
31 St. Joseph Telephone and Telegraph Company.........Port St. Joe, Florida 190
32 Standard Telephone Company.....................................Cornelia, Georgia 191
33 Statesboro Telephone Company.................................Statesboro, Georgia 197
34 Trenton Telephone Company.......................................Trenton, Georgia 199
35 Walker County Telephone Company...............................Lafayette, Georgia 200
36 Waverly Hall Telephone Company, Inc......................Waverly Hall, Georgia 205
37 Wilkes Telephone and Electric Company........................Washington, Georgia 206
38 Wilkinson Gounty Telephone Company, Inc........................Irwinton, Georgia 207
Alexander Graham Bell at the New York end of the circuit to Chicago. This line was
opened in 1892 as part of the ceremonies incidental to the Columbian Exposition. Little
man with black mustache at lefteditor. Cassiers Magazine, to right of him, beard and
glassesRalph W.Pope, directly above Bell, bushy beardJohn E. Hudson, hand on
chair, looking downE. J. Hall, Jr,, behind HallWilliam A. Hovey.
History AT&T
In Georgia
AT&T has long been proud to be a
part of Georgia telephony, and Georgia
has played an important role in AT&Ts
history as well.
In 1915, while vacationing on
Georgias Jekyll Island, AT&T President
Theodore N. Vail attended and par-
ticipated in a ceremony marking the
opening of the first transcontinental
telephone line. Alexander Graham Bell
held forth in New York, while Thomas
Watson provided the link across the
country, in San Francisco.
Ever since, telecommunications has
been a linchpin on which Georgias
diversified economy has evolved.
Shortly after Bell invented the
telephone in 1876, individual telephone
exchanges began operating in larger
cities in Georgia and around the coun-
try. And, as interest in the amazing new
talking machine took hold, the structure
of the company that would make univer-
sal telephone service a reality began to
The Bell Telephone Company was in-
corporated in Boston in August, 1877,
to look over the telephones interests.
A couple of years later it was reorganiz-
ed as the National Bell Telephone Com-
pany, and then again as the American
Bell Telephone Company (ABTC). In
1881-1882, the ABTC bought controll-
ing interest in the Western Electric
Manufacturing Company of Chicago,
thus establishing the companys
manufacturing arm.
By 1885, telephone users were
dissatisfied with the ability only to call
within their own exchange. To meet the
demand, ABTC formed a subsidiary, the
American Telephone and Telegraph
Company, to provide toll service. This
company, better capitalized than its
parent, in 1899 became the parent corn-
pany of the Bell system. The long
distance company became Long Lines.
About this time the design of the familiar
blue bell AT&T symbol first appeared.
Growth continued at a remarkable
pace for the Bell telephone companies
that were owned by AT&T and by the
independent telephone companies that
were established after the original Bell
telephone patents expired in 1892.
During the first decades of this century,
AT&Ts Bell telephone companies con-
tinued to expand their local exchanges
as its Long Lines division opened new
long distance cable lines. The Bell
associated companies were consolidated
into state or regional organizations
about this time. Southern Bell assum-
ed its present serving territory in 1926,
(South Central Bell was split off in 1969).
And, in 1925, Bell Telephone
Laboratories became an official, and
crucial, member of the Bell System. The
organization, the mission and the
philosophy that would guide AT&T for
the next 60 years was in place.
Years of Expansion
The giddy decade of the 1920s
brought more customers, better service,
improved transmission and lower prices.
Hardships followed in the Great Depres-
sion of the 1930s. Still, the Bell Systems
continuity was undiminished during
both boom and bust.
World War II tested the Bell Systems
organizational ability to the utmost as
the company directed all available
strategic materials like copper to sup-
port the war effort. Civilian service was
put on hold, creating a terrific demand
that bubbled over after the war.
By the 50s, AT&T represented much
more than just POTS (plain old
telephone service). The company had
been involved in numerous radio and
television firsts, even applying its
technological expertise to early talking
Some Georgia Firsts
The advent of national television
brought a new challenge to AT&T. In
1954, Long Lines carried color TV
signals to 95 stations in 65 cities, in-
cluding Atlanta. By 1955, Long Lines
was carrying the Masters live from
Augusta National Golf Club. It would
continue to be an annual sports
highlight, but not until 1966 was it
broadcast in glorious, Georgia color.
Early in 1955, the Long Lines testroom
The Real ThingHistoric painting shows Jacobs
Pharmacy as it appeared in midtown Atlanta
more than 100 years. Tracks in front of the store
were for horse-drawn streetcars, an early version
of MARTA. Note strands of open copper wire on
poles, which provided local and long-distance
service for the city.
Early line construction, AT&T employees.
on Ivy Street in Atlanta became one of
three TV control centers in the nation.
Also in the 50s, radio-relay routes
began supplementing underground
cable. November, 1953, found AT&T
opening a major 400-mile radio route
between Atlanta and Jackson,
AT&T has introduced a number of
new technologies in Georgia. In April,
1954, AT&T installed a new transistoriz-
ed rural carrier system with a trial
repeater at Americus. In this first ap-
plication of a technology developed by
the U. S. Bureau of Standards, transistor
amplifiers were mounted on a plastic
card and connected by lines of conduc-
ting material printed on the surface of
the card.
Americus was the site of another trial
of new technology in 1955. Here, AT&T
introduced tone ringing, where the
ring came from the phone receiver in-
stead of a bell. And later that fall was
the first trial of a Bell solar battery for
a carrier system.
Sophisticated new technology bring-
ing expanded services for consumers
and industry continued to be deployed
in Georgia in the 1960s as the state
began attracting more and more
business. The Souths emergence as an
important commercial center was con-
firmed in 1969, when Atlanta hosted
AT&Ts 84th meeting, only the sixth to
be held outside New York City.
Development of technology and ex-
pansion of markets, however, did not
guarantee AT&Ts success. The 1950s
found AT&T embroiled in legal battles.
In 1949, the U.S. Attorney General fil-
ed suit against AT&T, alleging violation
of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and ask-
ing that Western Electric be separated
from the Bell System. This suit was ter-
minated by a consent decree seven years
Under the decree, AT&T was limited
to common carrier communications and
government projects and retained its
structure of manufacturing, research and
operating units.
By the 1970s, the size and market
power of AT&T had again come under
scrutiny by the U.S. government. The
Department of Justice (DOJ), in 1974,
filed an antitrust suit against AT&T,
once again seeking the separation of
Western Electric, some or all of Long
Lines and perhaps other parts of the
Bell System. The tide of public opinion
had determined big is bad; the vertical-
ly integrated system that had created the
finest telecommunications service in the
world no longer was perceived as in the
publics interest.
After almost 10 years of costly legal
battles, AT&T and the DOJ in 1982 an-
nounced a settlement: AT&T would
divest itself of its local telephone opera-
tions (the Bell name, too), and at the
same time be free of the constraints of
the 1956 Consent Decree. For the next
two years, the worlds largest business
enterprise was taken apart and reshaped
into separate and independent organiza-
tions. A new, more compact, AT&T
emerged on January 1, 1984.
Even before that, however, AT&Ts
structure had begun to change. In
January, 1983, American Bell, Inc., a ful-
ly separated subsidiary, went into
business to sell customer premises
equipment and enhanced telecom-
munications services. The subsidiary was
required by a landmark 1980 FCC deci-
sion known as Computer Inquiry II.
A Vital Partner
Today, AT&T people and technology
are a vital part of the state economy.
Long distance switching machines
two 4ESS systems in Atlanta, a lESS
machine in Savannah and switches in
Columbus and Maconhandle nearly
5.5 billion switched minutes annually.
InterLATA message trunks number
Atlanta is home for Remote Work
Centers for the surveillance, control and
analysis of regional ESS machines and
TSPS systems for operator-assisted calls.
AT&T telephone operators serve
customers from Macon, Athens, Albany,
Savannah, Norcross, Smyrna and
A Regional Network Operations
Center in Atlanta provides monitoring
and control of the public switched net-
work for the Southeast, working in con-
cert with a national center in New Jersey
and other regional command posts.
From here, skilled application of con-
trols can minimize network overload and
service delays.
Facilities such as radio relay towers,
T-Carrier, lightguide, repeater stations
and satellite earth stations (such as one
in Woodbury, Georgia) are monitored
It took many men to hoist
a pole heavy with crossarms.
and maintained from AT&Ts Facility
Management and Administration Center
in Conyers.
The Atlanta Works, part of AT&Ts
Network Systems group, is the worlds
largest facility for developing and
manufacturing fiber optic communica-
tions cable and wire products. A
lightwave cable manufactured here, only
half an inch in diameter and containing
144 glass fibers, can carry more than
400,000 simultaneous telephone conver-
sations. Some 3,700 people work at this
Technical research and support for
the Atlanta Works is provided by the
transmission media laboratory of AT&T
Bell Labs in Atlanta.
Not only is Georgia home to the
largest plant turning out lightwave
cableit also was the site, in 1980, of
the first standard commerical lightguide
system installation.
Today, AT&Ts 15,000 Georgia
employees represent a full range of ex-
pertise in the areas of engineering,
marketing, equipment installation and
maintenance, data processing, manufac-
turing and customer service.
Through their skill and commitment
to excellence, AT&T will continue to
serve the Peach State well, today and
into the 21st Century.
AT&T employee Harry Dzikowski
operates a lathe on which special
glass preforms are fabricated for
use in drawing fibers for light guide
ALLTEL Georgia, Inc.
ALLTEL Georgia, Inc. is currently
divided into four districts; the fourth,
Empire Telephone Company, having
been added on Januairy 1, 1986. Com-
merce District includes Braselton, Com-
merce, Homer, Jefferson, Maysville,
Nicholson and Pendergrass exchanges.
Byron District includes Byron and
Centerville exchanges, and Cairo District
includes Cairo and Calvary-Reno ex-
changes. Empire is the fourth district to
be added (to ALLTEL Georgia, Inc.),
consisting of Carlton, Colbert, Comer,
Danielsville, Ila, Lexington, Maxeys,
Union Point, White Plains and Winter-
ville exchanges. The following story ex-
plains how severed operating telephone
companies were started and combined
to form ALLTEL Georgias current
operating areas.
The Harmony Grove Telephone Com-
pany was organized in August of 1895
by W.E. Hardman, L.G. Hardman, and
W.T. Thurmond. The original service
area of the company was the small
northeast Georgia community of
Harmony Grove.
Also organized in 1895 was the Jef-
ferson Telephone and Telegraph Com-
pany. Those responsible for its organiza-
tion included: H. W. Bell, F. L.
Pendergrass, E. C. Armisted, J. N.
Holder, J. E. Randolph. J. B.
Pendergrass, and J. C. Turner. In 1904,
the Harmony Grove Telephone Com-
pany and the Jefferson Telephone and
Telegraph Company were incorporated
by the state of Georgia as the Harmony
Grove Telephone Company.
Telephone service in the Harmony
Grove and Jefferson areas was provid-
ed by a magneto switchboard that was
installed in one of the buildings owned
by L. G. Hardman. Soon after the com-
panys incorporation, toll lines were built
to Athens, Gainesville, Winder, and
In 1917, the community of Harmony
Grove was renamed Commerce. On
February 27, 1917, the board of direc-
tors of the Harmony Grove Telephone
Company voted to change the name of
the company to the Commerce
Telephone Company. Directors named
at this meeting included: W. B. Hard-
man, J. C. Turner, L. G. Hardman, and
W. A. Echols. Echols had served as
manager, plant superintendent, and cen-
tral office repairman between 1901 and
1917. Records show that W. B. Hard-
man was the first president of the com-
pany and remained so until his death in
W. B. Hardman was succeeded by Dr.
L. G. Hardman, past governor of
Georgia, who died in 1937. John Hard-
man was named as Dr. Hardmans suc-
cessor and was followed by J. Luke Davis
as president of the company.
Following J. Luke Davis presidency
of the company, W. L. New, formerly
with the Thomaston Telephone Com-
pany, purchased all the stock of the
Commerce Telephone Company. In
February, 1949, New assumed complete
control of the corporation. The Com-
merce Telephone Company was in the
hands of the New family for a number
of years. During this period, family
members were active in the Georgia
Telephone Association serving on the
board of directors and as officers.
In 1952, the company converted its
Commerce exchange from the magneto
battery system to dial and erected a new,
modem telephone office on Central
Avenue in downtown Commerce. Due
to the rapid growth of Jackson County,
a loan was secured in 1955 to enlarge
the entire system. New office buildings
were built in Commerce, Jefferson,
Homer, Braselton, and Maysville, and
all were changed to the dial system.
During 1962, the Commerce
Telephone Company established its
Commerce. Georgia-
First Service Awards Dinner (about
1968). L to R: Vernon Manders,
Charles White, Thomas L. Johnson,
Mae Standridge Young. Al Mix.
Seated are the corporate personnel
manaaer and Grant New.
Pendergrass and Nicholson exchanges
bringing the total number of exchanges
to seven. The company continued to
grow throughout the late 1960s.
On January 5,1968, a called meeting
of the board of directors of the Com-
merce Telephone Company considered
Mid-Continent Telephone Corporations
official proposal for the merger of the
company with Mid-Continent. The board
unanimously voted to accept Mid-
Continents offer.
In June, 1968, the acquisition of the
Commerce Telephone Company was
completed. Mr. Thomas L. Johnson was
named president. On January 9, 1971,
the Commerce Telephone Company
went to direct distance dialing (ODD).
In October, 1978, the Byron Telephone
Company and the Cairo Telephone
Company were merged with Commerce
Telephone Company, and the entity was
renamed Mid-Georgia Telephone
Below: Downtown Com-
merce Restaurant (toll room
located upstairs). A retired
employee, L. G. Pace, is
one of the men on the pole.
Former Jefferson, Ga.
Business Office. Retired,
chief operator Hortense
Benton on left. William L,
(Bill) New, Jr., former
business office manager, on
Commerce Toll Board.
Pictured are Hortense
Benton, retired chief
operator: Shirley Hall;
Virginia Parker, framer;
Linda Brake; and Justine
holding companies with telephone
operating subsidiaries in 19 mid-western,
eastern, and southern states serving 1.2
million telephones with 860,000
customer lines. The company serves a
variety of non-regulated markets nation-
wide through its wholesale equipment
distribution and business communica-
tions systems marketing operations.
ALLTEL also provides international
consulting services and has interests in
fiber optic and satellite communications
systems, cellular mobile telephone ser-
vice, and wide-area paging.
Heading up ALLTEL Georgia, Inc.
since 1984 is Stephen K. Maginnis,
president and Donald F. Barnes, vice
Mid-Georgia Telephone Corporation
continued to grow and expand its opera-
tions throughout the late 1960s and ear-
ly 70s. In October, 1983, Allied
Telephone Company of Little Rock,
Arkansas, was merged with Mid-
Continent Telephone Corporation. The
companys name was then changed to
ALLTEL Corporation. In early 1984,
Mid-Georgia Telephone Corporation
was renamed ALLTEL Georgia, Inc. Ef-
fective January 1,1986, a fourth district
was merged into ALLTEL Georgia, Inc.
Empire Telephone Company, serving
ten exchanges, was added to bring all
ALLTEL subsidiaries in Georgia under
one nameALLTEL Georgia, Inc.
ALLTEL Corporation is one of the
nations major telecommunications
Above Right: Commerce
Telephone Company men
pictured are; B. J. Barron.
Otho Payne, Charles Barrett,
Felton Wheeler, H. D.
Suggs, W. A. Echols, M. R.
Barron, and Dewey Poole.
Ladies pictured are Hortense
Benton, Ruth Serodino, and
Jo Nell Minish. Aunt Peggy,
seated at switchboard, was
the night operator.
Right: Stephen K. Maginnis.
president, ALLTEL Georgia,

Alma Telephone
Company, Inc.
The Patterson exchange serving 26
subscribers in Pierce County was pur-
chased from W. E. Quattlebaum in 1936
by Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Bennett. The Ben-
netts moved from Waycross to Patter-
son to operate the business.
Judge Emreys book, Independent
Telephony in Georgia, lists exchanges
at Alma and Nicholls as part of a group
of exchanges in Georgia which were
formed into an operating company
known as the Central Company. This
company operated under the same
management as the Southeastern
Telephone Company. In 1929, Alma
had 74 telephones and Nicholls had 17.
There is limited information available on
the organization or early owners of these
The Bennetts purchased the Alma
and Nicholls exchanges in 1940 from
the Southeastern Telephone Company
and moved to Alma. The Alma
Telephone Company was formed and in-
cluded the three exchainges of Patter-
son, Alma, and Nicholls. Alma served
86 telephones and Nicholls had 18 at
the time of purchase.
The Alma Telephone Company con-
verted its equipment to dial service in
In 1958, the company was granted an
REA loan to be used for an expansion
program to serve the rural residents of
all Bacon County and parts of Pierce
and Coffee Counties. A new, modem of-
fice and all modem equipment cut over
July 16, 1960, brought the companys
net investment to over a million dollars.
Five new tmcks and a company car
enhanced the companys service
By the end of 1986 all party lines were
eliminated in the companys three ex-
changes and digital central office equip-
ment had been installed. The total
number of access lines was 4,656 at the
end of that same year.
The third generation of the Bennett
family continues a tradition of indepen-
dent telephone company operations at
the Alma Telephone Company.
Blue Ridge
Telephone Company
Blue Ridge Telephone Company sits
in the beautiful green mountains of nor-
thernmost Georgia, just shy of the Blue
Ridge Mountains. The industry was sad-
dened when Hoke Jones passed away in
1986. He had been owner and president
of the company for many years and had
devoted much of his life to the Blue
Ridge Telephone Company. His son,
Thomas Jones, assumed ownership
upon his fathers death.
The story is told that when the Ten-
nessee Valley Authority (TVA) was
organized, they bought the local power
company and had to take the local
telephone company as part of the deal.
In the late 1930s the TVA wrote a let-
ter to Mr. Dumas, who was then presi-
dent of Southern Bell, and inquired if
Bell was interested in taking over the
telephone operations. Meanwhile, J. C.
Doc Thomas, general superintendent
for Southern Bell, soon to retire, had
been looking around for a system to pur-
chase and had just about settled on
building an operation at Blairsville. Mr.
Dumas knew of Mr. Thomas plans, and
upon receipt of the letter from TVA, he
called Mr. Thomas into his office and
handed him the letter. Doc, youve
been trying to get a telephone system;
now is your chance. In a positive
response, Doc got on the train, went
to Knoxville, Tennessee, to the TVA of-
fice and handing them the letter, stated
that Southern Bell was not interested
but he was. The TVA response was
How much will you give us? Quickly
estimating that there were about 75
telephones, Doc replied $2500. He
immediately realized he had spoken too
soon; he knew he could have bought it
for $1500.
Nonetheless the purchase price was
set at $2500. On going back to Atlan-
ta, Doc wrote the North Electric Com-
pany in Ohio and told them he wanted
to buy a little dial switchboard for the
company. In that day, any order for a
switchboard was a big order, and as a
result, Gary Bertey, a North Electric
Company sales manager, got on the
train and came to Georgia.
Doc operated the company for
several years until age began to catch
up with him. He was among the early,
pioneering Southern Bell employees and
before his retirement had gained a wide
variety of experiences in telephony. His
many civic involvements included being
mayor on more than one occasion.
The company was sold about 1960 to
Hoke Jones and his brother, a lawyer,
who entered into a partnership agree-
ment. Hoke Jones later bought out his
brother and retained ownership until his
recent death.
Blue Ridge Telephone Company has
facilities at Blue Ridge, Dial and
Lakewood, Georgia. This REA borrower
company was the second exchange in
Georgia to go dial.
Now under the management of
Thomas Jones, the company serves the
three exchanges with dial offices and has
7,160 telephones.
^ E N
Brantley Telephone
Company, Inc.
Avery Strickland is the name that
comes to mind at the mention of
Brantley Telephone Company, Inc.
Avery and Lena Strickland purchased
the telephone company in April, 1945,
when it had 52 subscribers, most of
whom had been dissatisfied with the
previous service. They were served by
magneto type instruments.
Mr. Strickland, a former school
teacher, had been working as a
telephone line maintainer for the
Georgia Forestry Department since
1936. He worked on the old Timber
Owners Association (TOA) phone lines
that ran approximately 220 miles from
the Braganza regional headquarters
near Waycross to the fire tower in Glynn
County. The TOA lines were used to
warn of forest fires or other such occur-
rences in the timber country. The
Brantley Telephone Company eventually
purchased the TOA lines.
Below: Recent Brantley Right: Early Brantley
Telephone Co. office. Telephone Exchange.
The Georgia Forestry Department was
unhappy with the telephone service it
was getting in Brantley County, so they
gave Mr. Strickland a leave of absence
to buy the phone company and improve
the service. This project took about a
month, and then he hired a man to run
the business. The Stricklands porch was
the base of operation until the business
was moved to their garage.
The company grew quickly with
Strickland and his wife working day and
night manning the 100-line Kellogg
switchboard. Meanwhile, Mr. Strickland
was still holding down his Job with the
By 1952, dependable service was be-
ing provided to 200 subscribers. Also in
that same year, Brantley Telephone
Company was granted a corporate
charter. The original stockholders and
officers were: Avery Strickland, presi-
dent; Elroy Strickland, vice president;
and Lena J. Strickland, secretary and
The company applied for an REA
loan in 1952 to upgrade service, change
over to rotary dial, and build a brick of-
fice in Nahunta to house the dial system.
Service would also be expanded into
rural areas of Brantley County and
Charlton County. The loan was approv-
ed, and Brantley Telephone was the first
in south Georgia to install rotary dial.
The 200 stations the company had in
1952 jumped to 366 the same year after
the automatic equipment was
installedproof that this was what the
Mr. and Mrs. Avery
Strickland on the occasion of
his induction into the Hall of
people wanted. The following year new
facilities were built in Nahunta and
In 1965,127 miles of buried cable was
added to upgrade from eight-party rural
service to four-party. An exchange was
built in Hortense the next year.
Direct distance dialing (DDD) was in-
augurated on June 11, 1970, when the
mayor of Nahunta placed the first DDD
call to his brother in Oklahoma. Also
in 1970 the Nahunta exchange was
again expanded.
Another milestone was recorded in
1977 when the company gained its
2000th customer. At that time, Mr.
Strickland projected that Hoboken and
Waynesville (built in 1976) would pro-
bably grow the most. Brantley
Telephone serves the submarine base in
Camden County and Colonels Island in
Glynn County.
On June 24, 1985, Avery Strickland
was inducted into the Peach State
Chapter Independent Telephone
Pioneer Association Hall of Fame
recognizing his outstanding achieve-
ment, dedication, and loyalty to the
telecommunications industry. Through
the leadership Mr. Strickland brought
to Brantley Telephone, the company has
kept pace with changes in the industry.
The company now provides service to
more than 2,500 customers over new
computerized switching equipment in-
stalled in 1986.
Bulloch Telephone
Cooperative, Inc.
On March 8, 1951, a group of in-
terested citizens met for the purpose of
organizing a cooperative to furnish
telephone service to areas of Bulloch
County not then being served by other
telephone companies.
At a later meeting in July, 1951, a
board of trustees was elected and the
charter and by-laws were adopted. The
board made a successful offer to pur-
chase the Brooklet Telephone Company
and the Portal Telephone Company, as
well as two existing farmer-owned lines.
This transaction was to help make the
project more feasible.
Mr. Byron Dyer, the county extension
service agent, was instrumental in the
organization of the cooperative and pro-
vided information about the organiza-
tion of the new Rural Electrification Ad-
ministration program of the United
States Department of Agriculture.
The first loan funds were received in
1954, and construction was immediately
started to furnish eight-party service out
of the base area of the three exchanges.
On completion of this construction in
1956, there were 600 subscribers.
Over the next ten years the number
of subscribers increased three-fold as a
major construction project replaced all
open wire with under-ground cable.
Working with Statesboro Telephone
Company, free extended area calling
throughout Bulloch County was provid-
ed to subscribers of both telephone
At the end of 1965 Bulloch
Telephone had also upgraded to four-
party rural service and was serving 1,700
The 1970s brought major changes.
The subscribers were demanding the
best possible service, and they especially
wanted private line service and were will-
ing to pay the costs. A large expansion
program was started to bring about this
service. All new toll facilities connecting
directly with Southern Bell were built
and put into service in 1976-1977. At
the same time two new exchanges, pro-
viding all one-party service, were add-
ed. An attractive and functional head-
quarters building and warehouse were
built and dedicated in August, 1977.
Bulloch Telephone continues to grow
and in 1986 served 4,800 subscribers.
In 1988 the company will finish conver-
ting to all digital switching offices, com-
pleting a process stcuted in 1982 when
the first digital control office was install-
ed at the Brooklet exchange.
Bulloch Cooperative is interested in
the needs and wishes of its customers
and strives to provide the best possible
Gry l.bel Dry

Camden Telephone
& Telegraph
Company, Inc.
Historical records indicate that there
were telephones in the north end of
Camden County near the Satilla River
as early as 1894 and in St. Marys in
The Satilla Telephone Company was
incorporated in 1905 in Woodbine as
a stock company. Each share sold for
ten dollars. At that time Dr. A. K. Swift
was president of the Satilla Telephone
Company and J. S. N. Davis, an owner
of the Woodbine Timber Company,
acted as secretary. It is also believed that
the same shareholders may have own-
ed the St. Marys Telephone Company,
since Satilla Telephone had one phone
connected from its system to St. Mcirys.
Long distance service came in 1912
when Bell Telephone Company install-
ed an open wire route from Denmark,
South Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida,
and placed submerged cables in the
Satilla River at Woodbine and in the St.
Marys River.
The Satilla Telephone Company went
out of business when the lumber mills
discontinued operation in Woodbine in
the late 1920s, but service remained in
St. Marys.
In 1927 J. Frank Bailey, Jr. acquired
the St. Marys Telephone Company from
Miss Semora Brandon who with J. F.
Hughes had purchased the company
from J. S. N. Davis and George Bran-
don. Miss Brandon had operated the
magneto switchboard from the rear of
the family-owned Riverview Hotel on the
St. Marys waterfront.
After Mr. Bailey purchased the com-
pany, he moved the switchboard to the
old depot building on the waterfront. In
1936 he enlarged the company to in-
clude Kingsland and installed a switch-
board in A. E. Flemings home. Mr.
Fleming had contracted to offer swit-
chboard space and operator service in
Woodbine was provided service utiliz-
ing a forestry system of 16 phones in-
stalled by the Timber Protection
Organization in 1928 with a single long
distance trunk.
J. Frank Bailey, Jr. died in 1940, and
the company was passed on to his three
sons, Warren, Wilbur, and Wallace.
Warren A. Bailey operated and manag-
ed the company, and in 1948 he and his
brother Wilbur installed switchboard
facilities in Woodbine and created the
Woodbine Telephone Company.
In 1941 Gilman Paper Company
opened a paper mill at St. Marys. At that
time there were about 24 phones in St.
Marys and 20 in Kingsland. The paper
mill and later Gilmans bag plant
brought steady growth to the company.
The Woodbine-based company was
combined with the Camden Telephone
Company, which served St. Marys and
Kingsland, when the three brothers in-
corporated in July, 1955, to form the
present Camden Telephone and
Telegraph Company, Inc.
All the exchanges were magneto
operation until July, 1958, when they
were converted to county-wide dial ser-
vice after receiving an REA loan. At the
same time service was extended to many
of the outlying areas of the county which
had not been served by the company.
In 1976, the Secretary of the Navy an-
nounced that Kings Bay in the St. Marys
exchange area had been selected as the
site for a submarine support base to ac-
commodate the squadron of fleet
ballistic missle submarines being
withdrawn from their operational base
at Rota, Spain.
A massive constmction project for the
support facility began. The submarine
tender USS Simon Lake arrived July 2,
1979, with the first submarine, the USS
James Monroe, arriving on July 6 to
begin refit services for its next deterrent
To meet the increased growth that
would come with the base, the company
installed new TRW-Vidar digital swit-
ching equipment in their offices at St.
Marys in 1979 and Kingsland in 1980.
The business office was moved from its
old location on the comer of Osborne
and Conyers Streets in St. Marys to the
new building housing the St. Marys swit-
ching equipment.
Areas that had been primarily used for
pulpwood forestry now became housing
projects. A massive cable distribution
program was initiated by the company
to provide service to these areas and
convert many areas that had been four-
party service to one-party service.
Along with residential and business
growth associated with the new base, the
entire county road system began a
dramatic change. Two-lane thorough-
fares became four and five lanes which,
of course, required massive cable
Camden Telephone was still expan-
ding to provide service for the growth
brought by the $125 million dollar base
when the Navy officially announced in
1980 that Kings Bay had been selected
to become the Atlantic home for the new
Ohio class Trident submarine. Plans
were also announced that $1.8 billion
would be spent for new construction at
the base. The first Trident submarine
is scheduled to arrive in 1989.
In December, 1981, TRW-Vidar an-
nounced they would no longer manufac-
ture digital telephone switching equip-
ment. So in December, 1985, Camden
Telephone Company awarded a contract
to Northern Telecom to replace the St.
Marys switch with a DMS-100/200 digital
switch with tandem to Kingsland and to
replace the step switch at Woodbine.
This replacement will meet the con-
tinued growth expected throughout
Camden County in the 1980s and
The following dramatic increases
make Camden Telephone Company one
of the fastest growing independent
telephone companies within the state
with continued growth projected
through the 1990s.
The three Bailey brothers are current-
ly sole owners and directors of the com-
pany. Warren A. Bailey is still active as
president and general manager of the
company while J. Wilbur and Wallace
K. Bailey are retired.
December 1978 December 1985
Commercial Subscribers.........................750 1,590
Residential Subscribers..................... 3,221..............6,750
Annual Long Distance Calls................ 386,122..........2,148,000
Miles of Cable in Place........................403................633
Total Company Investment................$4,746,157........$17,077,762
1985 1990 1998
8,200 18,100 25,500
Chickamauga Telephone Corporation
traces its beginning to over a half cen-
tury ago. The earliest records for the
company appear in the archives of the
Georgia Public Service Commission in
Atlanta in 1920.
However, correspondence on file and
other limited data shows that the pro-
perty was acquired in 1914, and the ex-
change built in 1916 by Mr. A. E. Yates
of Chickamauga. Mr. Yates ran his first
line as communication between his
residence, Wheeler House, and his of-
fice at Crystal Springs Bleachery. Later,
as other people wanted to be added to
the line, he established the first
Chickamauga Telephone System.
By 1920, the system had grown to 155
operating stations. But, the years bet-
ween 1920 and 1940 were years of
uncertainty, when more was going out
than was coming in. The rates of only
$2 per month seemed high, so the
number of stations decreased to less
than 100.
Business picked up, and by 1940 the
system again had 106 stations, ten miles
of pole line, and a 100-line board.
On August 31,1944, the heirs of Mr.
Yates, Mrs. Cecile Campe Yates and
Mrs. Mildred Yates Finfrock, transfer-
red all property of Chickamauga
Telephone System to Mr. Horace W.
Vaughan and associates. The exchange
was then operated as a partnership, until
1947, when Mr. Vaughan became sole
owner. At the time of purchase the
system was operated out of a small,
white frame building with two employees
and one vehicle.
Horace W. Vaughan began his
telephone career as a small boy, work-
ing for his father, who owned Cor-
nersville Telephone Company, Cor-
nersville, Tennessee. At the age of 19
he purchased his first telephone com-
panies, the Waynesboro Telephone
Company and the Collingwood
Telephone Company, both located in
As an interesting side note, Horace
Vaughan was a musician and writer
whose accomplishments in the field in-
clude hundreds of religious songs, in-
cluding the famous If I Could Hear My
Mother Pray Again.
The next properties Mr. Vaughan ac-
quired were: Linden, Lobelville, and Clif-
ton Telephone Companies, followed by
the Fulton Telephone Company, Fulton,
Mississippi, in 1940; Chickamauga
Telephone System, Chickamauga,
Georgia, in 1945; Ooltewah Telephone
Company, Ooltewah, Tennessee, in
1947; Collegedale Telephone Company,
Collegedale, Tennessee, in 1955 and
Alabama Telephone Company, which
eventually grew to be the largest in-
dependent telephone company in the
state of Alabama. Mr. Vaughan also had
other telephone interests in Alabama,
Mississippi, and Tennessee.
As each company was purchased or
organized, Mrs. Frances S. Vaughan
served with her husband as a corporate
director and in other executive posi-
tions. She became secretary for
Chickamauga Telephone System in
By 1950, the system showed an in-
crease to 392 stations, 47 miles of line,
and 715 poles. In addition they had a
200-line automatic switchboard.
This marked the beginning of
Chickamauga Telephone Systems ex-
Art and Frances Barnes
(standing) inaugurate
touch-tone dialing in
pansion program. Between 1950 and
1952, when Mr. Vaughan incorporated
the company and simultaneously con-
verted to the dial system, a new brick
telephone office had been built on
Thomas Avenue.
By 1960, the telephone system had
grown to 1,646 stations and two ex-
changes. With the increased service, an
addition was built in 1962, and a new
2700-line Stromberg-Carlson XY central
office was installed.
Following Mr. Vaughans death in
1963, Frances Vaughan became presi-
dent and general manager of
Chickamauga Telephone Corporation,
Ooltewah Telephone Company, and
Collegedale Telephone Company. She
was also president of Alabama
Telephone Company, Fayette, Alabama,
from 1964 to 1967; vice president of
Waynesboro (Tennessee) Telephone
Company and Linden (Tennessee)
Telephone Company; secretary and
treasurer of Fulton Telephone Com-
pany, Fulton, Mississippi; and secretary
and treasurer of West Alabama T. V.
Cable Compemy, Fayette, Alabama.
In 1965 Frances Vaughan married Ar-
thur W. Barnes, vice president and
general manager of Southern Telephone
Supply Company, Decatur, Georgia.
In 1967, the telephone company,
already running short of office space, tip-
ped the scales in favor of a new building.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was held
April 27, 1968, for the beautiful new
building, the most modem commercial
building in Chickamauga. It was com-
pletely air conditioned, featuring
background music and an intercom
system, plus a new telephone system
with the latest equipment.
In line with a program of Total Com-
munications Chickamauga Telephone
Corporation, in 1968, also offered the
highly sophisticated and trouble-free
business intercom system, with radio
and background music, to all types of
commercial subscribers.
In 1969, Chickamauga Telephone
received approval of a $1,224,000 loan
from Rural Electrification Administra-
tion to finance extensive improvements
and additions to service the
Chickamauga and High Point areas.
A plant office and warehouse building
were erected on a large portion of land
purchased for that purpose on Cove
Road. This facility is still being used.
As of August 31, 1969, a total of
2,621 customers were being serviced by
the Chickamauga exchange and 275
through High Point.
In the early 1970s, the company
became the first telephone company in
the state of Georgia to install a preci-
sion time and temperature forecasting
system providing service around the
clock. In June, 1970, Chickamauga
Telephone offered new touch-tone dial-
ing to its customers.
Contrasting facilities
a picture of progress.
One thing led to another and it
became necessary for the telephone
company to make needed, extensive
remodeling in order to continue offer-
ing quality service to their customers.
In 1979, the Chickamauga Telephone
Corporation replaced the 2700-line
Stromberg-Carlson XY central office, in
operation since 1962, with a new
3900-line Stromberg-Carlson System
Century digital central office. This was
state-of-the-art equipment and offered
the latest in telephone features. This
digital central office was the first of its
kind in the southeast United States.
In 1983, BVS Communications Ser-
vice Company, Inc. was formed. It is a
holding company with Chickamauga
Telephone Corporation, Ooltewah-
Collegedale Telephone Company,
Chickamauga Communications, Inc.,
American Data Industries, Inc. and
Chattanooga-Northwest Georgia Cellular
Radio, Inc. as its subsidiaries.
Arthur D. and Frances Vaughan
Barnes have for many years been key
figures in Georgia independent
telephony. Their prominent roles in
GTA include each having served as
board member, chairperson, and presi-
dent of the..association. Frances was the
first confirmed woman president and
board member of the association. (There
were reports that Mrs. J. E. Kirk may
have served on the board.)
Chickamauga Telephone Company
was purchased in 1986 by another family
operation, Telephone Electronics Cor-
poration, founded and owned by
brothers Joseph (Jody) and Charles Fail.
This is the first appearance of the Fail
company in Georgia telephony
The Fail brothers have both been ac-
tive all of their adult lives in the family-
owned telephone business which their
father founded in Bay Springs, Mississ-
ippi in 1923.
Other corporations owned by
Telephone Electronics Corporation are
Bay Springs Telephone Company,
Crockett Telephone Company, Com-
muniGroup, ComNet, National
Telephone of Alabama, Peoples
Telephone Company, Roanoke
Telephone Company, TEC Communica-
tions Service, TEC West, U. S. Access,
West Tennessee Telephone Company,
and Video.
Jody Fail serves as chairman of the
board and officer and director of each
of the subsidiaries. Charles Fail is presi-
dent and director of TEC and is also an
officer and director of each of the sub-
sidiaries. Both have been active in the
independent telephone industry, as well
as civic, business and church
Meager beginnings at
Telephone Company.
Citizens Telephone
Company, Inc.
Citizens Telephone Company is an
outgrowth of three telephone companies
in Sumter, Lee, and Dooly counties. The
Leslie-DeSoto Telephone Company was
formed by J. L. Amason on September
6,1910, and was later transferred to I.
R. Stanford. Tommy C. Smith bought
the company on April 2,1946, with 99
working magneto type telephones and
a 90-line Kellogg mcmual switchboard.
The Plains Telephone Company was
established in the early 1920s by the
Norman Murray family and in February,
1940, was franchised to Thad M. Jones.
Mr. Smith added this company to his
system in 1951 when he purchased its
Automatic Electric 80-line step board
which served 125 dial telephones.
In April, 1959, a county-wide extend-
ed area service (EAS) between Americus,
Leslie and Plains was established in a
cooperative effort between the Bell Com-
pany and Citizens Telephone Company.
The Vienna Telephone Company was
organized by the William Turton fami-
ly with 13 subscribers in 1902. Mrs.
Nellie Turton operated the franchise
from 1936 to April 1,1959, when Tom-
my Smith bought it. At that time an
Automatic Electric 350-line step swit-
chboard served 525 dial telephones.
Citizens Telephone Company, form-
ed by these three small compainies, was
incorporated June 19,1957, with Tom-
my C. Smith, Jesse L. Davis, and Lor-
raine Davis Smith as officers.
In 1960 the company began burying
outside plant cable and converted eight-
party lines to graded one, two and four-
party service. Mr. Smith recalled:
We were pioneers in
underground communications.
Citizens Telephone Company
buried more than 140 miles of
underground cable facilities at a
cost of $243,000. My good friend
and neighbor, Mr. H. C. Bond,
(owner of the Public Service
Telephone Company, Reynolds,
Georgia) came to me with a ques-
tion. Do you know what you are
doing? I talked to myself on
regular occasions to make sure I
did. Very few if any companies
were into buried cable.
This speculative step later proved to be
a move in the right direction.
On March 11, 1971, a county-wide
EAS service was provided for all Dooly
County exchanges between Vienna,
Pinehurst, Unadilla, and Byromville,
Georgia. Three companies. General
Telephone Company, Plant Telephone
and Power Company and Citizens
Telephone Company, joined together for
the successful completion of this EAS.
Citizens Telephone Company was still
expanding and upgrading rural service
when in 1976 Jimmy Carter was elected
as President of the United States. This
Establishment of rural service
to a local farm in 1951. (L-R)
Bob Gregory, Tommy Smith,
and Joe Longshore.
was an unparalleled experience for the
small telephone company, and the
events that followed were astronomical.
The involvement in serving the 39th
President of the United States began in
October, 1975. The company was
notified that U. S. Secret Service pro-
tection of candidates for the 1976
presidential election was to begin and
that the telephone company serving
Plains (candidate Jimmy Carters home
town) would be involved in providing the
telecommunications facilities for the
Secret Service.
At that early point in the 1976 cam-
paign, Jimmy Carter was not considered
to be one of the front runners in the
presidential election for 1976. Citizens
knew that they would have to provide
the telephone service to the Secret Ser-
vice protection detail assigned to can-
didate Carter, but there was no way to
predict the telecommunications re-
quirements of the Secret Service, the
White House Communications Agency
and the news media that would confront
the company within the next year.
Telephone service to the Plains ex-
change had been provided by a
Stromberg-Carlson XY switching system
since 1959. A new design was to enlarge
the existing central office building and
add new switching and carrier facilities,
but that was planned for 1978three
years away. In early 1976 when it
beccime apparent that expanded service
would be required ahead of schedule,
due to the steady increase in requests
for local service and additional long
distance traffic. Citizens determined that
immediate action was necessary. Stan-
dard Telephone Company of Cornelia
was called on to provide equipment and
manpower to add more local lines and
long distance facilities. It was anticipated
that this addition would meet the ser-
vice needs until the Democratic
Convention in the summer of 1976
when the Democratic presidential cand-
idate would be named.
While there had been a steady in-
crease in demand by the press and the
campaign staff for service up to the
Democratic Convention, the first wave
of service requirements came when Jim-
my Carter received his partys endorse-
ment to be their candidate for the
November election. After the conven-
tion, the demand for service hit Citizens
with unanticipated force. The Secret
Service increased their protection staff
for the candidate and his family, and the
campaign staff greatly increased their
presence in Plains, but the greatest in-
crease in service requirements came
from the news media.
During the period between the con-
vention and the November election.
Citizens Telephone Company revised
the planning schedule for the additions
to the Plains exchange and gave meeting
this demand a number one priority. A
building addition was required to pro-
vide adequate space for the new com-
munications equipment. Orders were
placed for additional line, trunk and
transmission equipment. Carrier
facilities were added to allow for the in-
crease in long distance trunks, as well
as the special services required by the
Secret Service and the news media.
When Jimmy Carter was elected Presi-
dent of the United States in November,
most of the staff at Citizens Telephone
Company could not celebrate or even
take time to watch the news reports
they were too busy meeting the telecom-
munications requirements of the news
media at Plains who were covering this
event. Service was provided to CBS,
ABC, NBC, Associated Press, United
Press International, Voice of America,
Mutual Radio and many other represen-
tatives of the news media.
After Jimmy Carter was elected Presi-
dent of the United States, his personal
communications requirements reached
levels that again could not have been an-
First call on new dial system
in 1951.
(L-R) Tommy Smith and
Mavor W. W. Webb.
11 January 1977
June 8, \91B
To Gordon DuH
\ wonted to thank you tor your hard work dur\ng
my recent vU\t to P\Qins. \ appreciate your
efforts in my behoU. Thank you.

Mr. Gordon Duff
Citizens Teleptiane Co.
P.O. Box 187
ieslie, (51 31764
Dear Mr. Duff:
1 wculd like to take this opportunity to ccnmend you for the out-
standmg support ycu provided ny personnel during the 1976 Presidential
Canp^gn. it gives me great pleasure to single out those who deserve
^pecial recognition for their ccntributicns in assisting the Canpaign
Management Control Agency mset its oamdtments.
Enolosed is a Certificate of Appreciation. Please accept my
sincere thanks for a job well done.
Chief, OCfl
1 End.
Mr. Gordon Dvrf<
CVizens Te\ephone C^pony
Ploins, Georgio 3\109
downtown plains

Mm of

inaugural train

ticipated. Not only did his Secret Ser-
vice protection increase, but the White
House Communications Agency
(WHCA) officially began to provide
worldwide communications facilities to
President Carter. This was accomplish-
ed by the provision of specially modified
switchboards that Citizens Telephone
Company purchased from General
Telephone of Florida. These swit-
chboards were installed and maintain-
ed by Citizens and staffed by WHCA
operators to link the various offipremises
stations located among the presidential
area as well as back to Washington on
direct lines. The company has preserv-
ed for display the manual switchboard
that served President Jimmy Carter dur-
ing his tenure in office. This switchboard
was used by the WHCA, but installed
and maintfiined by Citizens Telephone
Each time President Carter returned
to Plains during his term in office, the
flurry of activity would return with him.
Citizens would provide government and
press facilities at the local airport, where
the presidential helicopter would land,
and whatever new facilities were
necessary for that particular visit. Each
time the President returned, the special
switchboard would once more be staff-
ed by the WHCA operators around the
clock to insure instant communications
between the Plains White House and
the Washington White House. This
cycle of tremendous levels of service ac-
tivity followed by the quiet times, when
the President returned to Washington,
continued during the coming four years.
While the communications needs at
Plains are not at the peak levels they
were during Jimmy Carters term in of-
fice, Citizens Telephone Company con-
tinues to work closely with the Secret
Service protection detail, as well as
President Carters staff, to insure that
their communications needs are met.
Today, Tommy C. Smith and his three
daughters, Claire S. Stapleton, Gail S.
Ledger, and Fran S. Deriso, are the sole
stockholders and directors of Citizens
Telephone Company. Tommy C. Smith
is active as president and general
manager while Gordon M. Duff is ex-
ecutive vice president and operations
manager. The companys central office
equipment consists of two digital Nor-
thern Telecom DMS-10 central offices,
one Stromberg-Carlson XY step central
office, and one Stromberg-Carlson elec-
tronic switchboard. The Stromberg-
Carlson XY step switchboard is due to
be replaced with a Northern Telecom
DMS-10 switchboard in 1987 in a con-
tinued program of meeting the needs of
the customers of Citizens Telephone
Tommy Smith checking the old
1926 Talbolton magneto swit-
chboard at Andersonville,
Georgia, Museum.
Coastal Utilities, Inc.
Coastal Utilities was incorporated by
the state of Georgia in 1953 to provide
telephone service in that certified area
of coastal Georgia as approved by the
Georgia Public Service Commission.
This area encompassed primarily the
county of Liberty, with portions of Bryan
and Mcintosh counties included.
The history of this company does not
begin at the time of the above incorpora-
tion but transcends the entire period of
industrial development of coastal
An inquiry began in 1946 when Glenn
Bryant purchased the Hinesville
Telephone Company.
Research found little supporting in-
formation on early corporate develop-
ment of telephony in coastal Georgia.
We do know that local telephone ser-
vice was still a novelty in 1910, and there
was less than one telephone per 50
households in the southern states. Too,
the exact date that commercially swit-
ched telephone service was first provided
in Coastals certified area has not been
Henry Ford installed a private
telephone system to serve employees of
the Ford Plantation, called Cherry
Hill, which is within Coastals exchange
area. This system remained private un-
til the plantation was sold to other in-
dividuals a few years prior to the pur-
chase of the Hinesville system by Mr.
Even though Glenn Bryant may not
be classed among the earliest of
pioneers, we do readily see he was in-
deed a pioneer in the provision of com-
mercial rural telephone service in coastal
Georgia since this industry had not
flourished in rural areas.
The attack on Pearl Harbor and the
declaration of World War II were the
events that brought Glenn and Trudie
Bryant to Hinesville and Liberty Coun-
ty. Glenn was a civil servant with the
government and managed the federal
housing, serving personnel associated
with Camp Stewart.
Subsequent to the war, Mr. Bryant
had an opportunity to purchase the
Hinesville Telephone Company which
was then owned by Mr. J. L. Kirk. At
that time, Hinesvilles population was
less than 1,000 and with no industry,
Hinesvilles future did not look very
bright. Purchase of the Hinesville
Telephone Company was consumated
on July 1, 1946.
At the time of purchase the telephone
company was serving 253 customers.
The year-end report for 1946 submitted
to the Georgia Public Service Commis-
sion revealed some very interesting facts.
The company was providing telephone
service to 70 business establishments,
157 residents were receiving service, and
24 paystations were located throughout
the area. The company had approx-
imately 50 miles of open aerial wire, and
calls were processed through two com-
mon battery type switchboards. The
total plant value of the telephone com-
pany was $34,000.
The first years were very lean. In fact,
the 1946 total operating revenues were
Coastal Utilities old toll operator
room with seven position,
full multiple board.
$18,203 with a total operating expense
of $18,111 for a net operating income
of $92. There were less than ten
employees with an annual payroll of
$8,228. Mr. Bryants salary as general
manager was unpaid for the first three
years of the companys operation due to
the financial condition of the company.
During these early years all local and
long distance calls were placed through
the telephone operator. Mrs. Evelyn B.
Goff served as Coastals first chief
operator, and she remained with the
company until retirement in 1976.
Monthly rates for telephone service in
1946 were $4 per month for business
establishments and $2.75 for residential
single-party service. An extension cost
the subscriber an additional dollar per
month. Paystation calls were made for
a buffalo nickel.
During the 1940s the company ex-
perienced modest growth and one of the
early, major changes in company
posture came in 1950. Eight toll boards
were added, and the Hinesville
Telephone Company was officially
classified as a toll center. Also, in 1950,
the first private branch exchange (PBX)
was installed. The system had 18 lines
and 18 stations.
Mr. Bryant, in a separate action, pur-
chased the Coastal Telephone Company
at Richmond Hill in 1951. Subscribers
were served by a CX-1000 automatic
switchboard made by North Electric with
a capacity of 100 lines wired and 50 lines
equipped. The company served a total
of 50 subscribers.
In 1952 the Midway exchange was cut
over with a total of 68 multi-party sta-
tions in service. This exchange utilized
a 60-line North Electric relay type
In 1953, Mr. Bryant filed an applica-
tion with the Georgia Public Service
Commission to acquire the properties
of the Hinesville and Coastal Telephone
Companies for the purpose of consolida-
tion and to provide increased efficien-
cies in operation, economics, and to
meet requirements for financial
assistance through the REA to
rehabilitate and expand existing
Even though Coastal enjoyed a cons-
tcmt but modest growth throughout the
fifties and sixties, the seventies and early
eighties brought about major progress.
A small data processing facility
established in 1975 has grown into a
highly advanced operation.
During 1976, over four million dollars
of new plant facilities were added. Eight
TSC toll boards were cut in service giv-
ing 16 TSC positions along with
automatic ticketing equipment for traf-
fic functions. Additionally, an 11-GHZ
microwave system was constructed
which interconnected all of the com-
panys exchanges and provided toll ser-
vices throughout the world via a video
cable interfacing the Bell system.
In 1977, the 582 subscribers in the
Richmond Hill area dialed their way in-
to the digital century becoming the first
Americans to make calls through a
computer-controlled, digital, class-five
office. The 500-line century switch
replaced the XY switch installed in 1962.
The company enjoyed national media
coverage of this first-time event.
Following this new and advanced
technology, a DMS-10 was installed in
1978 at the Hinesville exchange.
A DMS-100-200 was cut over in 1980
and in conjunction with this cJl-
electronic digital switch, the new TOPS
(Traffic Operator Position System), with
15 positions, was installed. This conver-
sion provided subscribers the latest in
telecommunications technology such as
speed dialing, call waiting, call forwar-
ding, and tele-conferencing.
In 1981 a new exchange was con-
structed at Midway. A DMS-10 was hous-
ed in this very handsome and
aristocratic structure providing satellite
switching features for seven remote sta-
tions constructed throughout the ex-
change area.
Another operational first for Coastal
was brought about in 1984 when a
Westinghouse power line carrier system
was installed to serve the off-shore island
of Saint Catherines. This carrier system
utilized cm eight mile, 7200 volt, elec-
tric submarine cable for telecommunica-
tion transmissions. Again the company
enjoyed national media coverage of this
Mr. Bryant made a major change in
top management in January, 1982, when
he turned over the presidency of the
company to his youngest son, Daniel.
Danny says, Georgia stands as one of
the leaders in telecommunications and
technology with extensive manufactur-
ing and production for satellite broad-
casting and computer-assisted com-
munications. It is our goal to keep pace
with modern technology as we have in
the past.
Reflecting to 1946 with under 300
subscribers, as compared to over 16,000
in 1986, gives an indication of the com-
panys overall growth.
Too, plant investment has increased
to a level of approximately 33 million
dollars, completed toll messages increas-
ed to over 6.5 million annually, and the
1985 annual operating revenues approx-
imated 13 million dollars. Coastal
utilities continues its progress with the
current construction of a fiber optic
trunk system interconnecting its ex-
changes, setting up a wide area paging
system for coastal Georgia, and the sub-
mission of applications to the FCC to
provide a cellular radio system between
the South Carolina and Florida borders
in the Coastal region.
With a current monthly basic local
service charge of $5.20 and an installa-
tion fee of $4.50, the 200 employees of
Coastal Utilities, Inc. are confident that
the subscriber has been provided the
most in advanced telephone technology
and service at the lowest rate possible
in compliance with national telephone
Telephone Company
of the South
The history of Continental Telephone
Company of the South represents a
series of mergers, name changes, and
the acquisition of some ten independent
telephone companies. Continental is a
member of the CONTEL system.
Dixie Telephone
Dixie Telephone Company was pur-
chased from H. C. Hearn in 1965 by
Telephones, Inc., a holding company.
Dixie Telephone Company had its
headquarters in Claxton and served
some seven exchanges.
The company started when Mr. Hearn
acquired the Collins exchange. Over the
years. Alamo, Uvalda, Milan, Rhine,
Springfield, and Rincon were added.
Mention of Alamo, Rhine, Milan, and
Uvalda is contained in an article about
Southeastern Telephone Company, a
Delaware corporation formed in 1928.
The operating headquarters of the cor-
poration was reported to be in
Tallahassee, Florida. The Georgia pro-
perty headquarters was reportedly
established in Fitzgerald.
There was a Farmers Telephone
Company operating in Springfield, that
was purchased from a Mr. L. Parker.
Sikes Telephone Company
Telephones, Inc. purchased Sikes
Telephone Company from Aubrey E.
Sikes, Sr. in 1965.
C. R. Sikes is rumored to have been
associated with the founding of the
telephone company. According to
available information. Southeastern
Telephone Company purchased this
Mr. Sikes, at a later time, built a new
telephone system and began offering
telephone service. Then Glennville had
two telephone systems, both in competi-
tion with each other and operating
within the same area. About 1936,
Southeastern withdrew from Glennville
and Mr. Sikes purchased their system.
Seminole Telephone
Company (Donalsonville)
Seminole Telephone Company serv-
ed the Donalsonville, Iron City, Jakin,
and Reynoldsville exchanges in Georgia.
There was one exchange, Malone, in
A Mr. E. R. Jordan is reported to have
sold the telephone system in Donalson-
ville to Mr. W. E. Quattlebaum.
Homerville Telephone Company
business office in 1958.
Seminole Telephone Company was
purchased from Mr. and Mrs. Jeff
Cherokee Telephone
Company (Rochelle)
This company was purchased from
Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Spooner at the same
time as Seminole Telephone Company.
Cherokee Telephone Company served
Rochelle, Pitts, Pineview, and Rebecca.
There appears to have been a Central
Telephone Company which was
reported to have listed Rochelle cind
Rebecca as part of their company. How
Mr. W. E. Quattlebaum acquired these
exchanges is not known.
Homerville Telephone
Company (Homerville)
The first mention of a telephone
system in Homerville is reported to have
been in a letter dated October 18,1911,
signed by Mr. A. Hargrove, advising the
GPSC he had sold to a Mr. H. A. Dames.
At some point in time, Mr. L. B.
Musgrove obtained the company. Down-
ing Musgrove took over the operation
of the company upon the death of his
father, L. B.
The Homerville Telephone Company
was purchased from Downing Musgrove
and consisted of two exchanges, Homer-
ville and Fargo.
Georgia State
Telephone Company
In 1966, Cherokee, Homerville,
Seminole, Sikes, and Dixie Telephone
Companies were merged into Dixie
Telephone Company, and the name was
changed to Georgia State Telephone
Wayne Telephone Company
Continental acquired Wayne
Telephone Company from Mr. and Mrs.
Joe Martin. Wayne Telephone Company
served Odum and Screven.
Gray-Haddock Telephone
Company (Gray)
Reported to have been originally built
by T. Rad Turner and C. S. Bryant in
1915 to serve Gray.
R. L. Lineberger purchased the com-
pany in 1935 and purchased Haddock
in 1943.
Continental purchased the company
from Ralph Lineberger, and it consisted
of the Gray, Haddock, and Lake Sinclair
Jeffersonville Telephone
Company (Jeffersonville)
Continental purchased the Jefferson-
ville Telephone Company from Ralph
Lineberger at the same time as the Gray-
Haddock Telephone Company.
The only known information is that
the Danville Telephone Company and
the Jeffersonville Telephone Company
were purchased from W. G. Spears in
1939 by 0. B. Lineberger.
At the time of purchase, there were
three exchanges, Danville, Jeffersonville,
and Montrose.
South Georgia Telephone
Company (Sylvania)
South Georgia Telephone Company
was acquired from Raiford J. Parker in
1977. The company served Sylvania,
Reidsville, Ludowici, St. George, and
Folkston, Georgia, and Boulougne,
According to some reports. South
Georgia Telephone Company started in
Ludowici when B. Parker purchased this
property from a Mr. C. R. Sikes in
January, 1911.
Folkston Telephone Company was
purchased in 1937 by Mr. B. Parker
from his brother, L. Parker, which was
formerly purchased from J. L. Laskins.
Mr. B. Parker is reported to have pur-
chased Reidsville from Southeastern
Telephone Company in May, 1940.
Mr. Parker and his son, R. J. Parker,
purchased the Sylvania exchange from
F. M. Houser in 1946.
In 1949, all of the above companies
were merged, and South Georgia
Telephone Company was incorporated.
Mention of the Sylvania exchange
goes back to 1920. The first owner listed
was a Mr. Adis Millis, who acquired the
company in 1920. Southeastern
Telephone Company is reported to have
purchased Sylvania in 1927 and sold it
to Mr. F. M. Houser in 1940.
Reidsville is also listed as an exchange
of Southern Telephone Company
around the 1927-1928 time frame.
Thomaston Telephone
Company (Thomaston)
Continental purchased Thomaston
Telephone Company from the New fami-
ly in 1977. Madison New was president
of Thomaston Telephone Company at
the time it was purchased.
According to available information,
the original company was started in
1912 by the Fincher family as the
Thomaston Telegraph and Telephone
Company. In 1926 the company was
sold to J. L. Kirk and acquired by W.
M. New in September, 1927, and the
name was changed to Thomaston
Telephone Company.
Clayton and Mountain
City/Dillard Exchanges
The Western Carolina Telephone
Company at one time operated the
Clayton and Mountain City/Dillard ex-
changes in the northeast comer of
Georgia. These exchanges were later ac-
quired by Continental and became part
of their North Carolina operation before
being merged into the Georgia
Continental Telephone Com-
pany of the South/Georgia
Continental Telephone Company of
the South/Georgia presently operates in
some thirty-six communities within
Georgia, plus one small exchange in
Darien Telephone
Company, Inc.
Darien is situated at the mouth of the
Altamaha River and is one of the states
early settlements. Very little is known
about the beginning of telephone ser-
vice in this community until 1920 when
Joseph Christopher Jackson bought the
company from a Mr. Cobb in Savannah.
Mr. Jackson operated the Darien
Telephone Company until his death in
1924. Ownership then passed to his
widow, Mary Anna Jackson. The next
year the office was moved to a two-story
brick house. The switchboard and
equipment were located on the second
floor of the building.
In 1942 Richard Vernon Jackson, son
of Mary Anna Jackson, and his wife,
Bessie Ridley, purchased the company
which consisted of a magneto switch-
board with 50 lines. The switchboard
was changed to a common battery board
in 1948.
Darien Telephone Company Office-
1925. Switchboard and other equipment
located on second floor.
Dial service was established in the
Eulonia exchange in 1957 and in Darien
on September 10, 1961. At the same
time the company moved to a modem,
brick office building. There were 734
stations in service by this time. By the
end of the 1960s, direct distance dial-
ing was added.
Sapelo Island was served by the Atlas
Utilities Company, owned by R. J.
Reynolds. Extended area service (EAS)
connected it to Darien and Bmnswick
via microwave spanning the Inland
Waterway. In 1972 Darien Telephone
Company purchased Atlas Utilities and
merged it with their company.
By 1976 the company had all one-
party service available in its Eulonia and
Darien exchanges. In just ten years the
number of stations had grown to 2,253.
A first for the community of Hog
Hammock on Sapelo Island came in
1978. A new central office was establish-
ed there providing its first telephone
On June 22, 1985, Richard Vernon
Jackson died leaving the operation of
Present facility for Darien
Telephone Company, Inc.
the company to the following elected of-
ficers: Bessie Ridley Jackson, president;
Mary Lou Jackson Forsyth, vice presi-
dent; Reginald Vernon Jackson,
treasurer; Mary Alice Forsyth Glenn,
secretary; William Irby Jackson, general
manager and director.
Darien Telephone Company con-
verted its Darien, Eulonia, and Sapelo
Island exchanges to digital October 19,
1986. By that time they had surpassed
the 3,000 station mark.
The Jackson family has owned and
operated the Darien Telephone Com-
pany for over half a century. They are
supported in the business by 13
dedicated employeesKenneth I. Miller,
Douglas Sawyer, Prince Watson, James
Moody, Robert S. Woodward, Jr., Ben-
nie Jones, William Glenn, Kerth Whit-
ten, Russell Jones, James Flanagan,
Bobbie Brown, Shirley Everson, and
Lisa Sawyerin addition to the officers
named above.
Ellijay Telephone
1957Ellijay Telephone Company's
complete central office and business
office located on the second floor of the
building pictured on next page.
On April 13,1903, W. G. Owenby and
John H. Carter submitted a petition re-
questing permission from the mayor and
council of Ellijay to establish a metallic
circuit telephone system.
At the next city council meeting on
April 15, 1903, the response was that
the request was the opinion of the
mayor and council reasonable, just, and
proper.... The request for the franchise
was granted for a period of 20 years and
signed by the mayor and council. It is
noted that one of the councilmen was
B. S. Holden.
A petition to establish a corporation
was made about a year later by W. G.
Owenby, B. S. Holden, and J. S. Carter.
The corporation name was Ellijay
Telephone Exchange. The capital stock
was to be $5,000 with power to increase
to an amount not exceeding $15,000.
The corporate charter was granted April
13, 1904.
The first officers of the corporation
were B. S. Holden, president; J. H.
Carter, vice president; and Charles S.
Allen, secretary. The management of the
company was under B. S. Holden.
It appears that operation continued
under this arrangement until March 22,
1913, when Ed W. Watkins, Jr., M. D.
and G. C.' Watkins purchased the
outstanding stock. Dr. Watkins manag-
ed the company. The company did not
grow rapidly. The Ellijay telephone
directory of March 1,1932, shows a total
of 23 subscribers. The directory was
published by the Summerville
Telephone Company and gave all
listings for Summerville, Lyerly, Menlo,
Ellijay, and Trion.
By September, 1946, the company
had grown to 137 subscribers served
with the commonly used magneto type
telephones and switchboard. The switch-
board operators were the best-known
representatives of the company. There
was little outside plant construction on
a continuing basis. The lines were not
extended very much past the city limits^
In 1946 Dr. Watkins decided to sell
the company because of the difficulty of
operating in a post-World War II en-
vironment and because of his desire to
retire. A buyer was finally found, and on
November 20, 1946, all of the stock in
the company was transferred to Samuel
B. Green, Edith M. Green, and Dorothy
J. Green.
Samuel B. Green began telephone
work in 1903 and continued in this work
until his death in 1962. Mr. Green work-
ed in both Bell and independent com-
panies. He retired about 1945 from the
General Telephone Company. He had
spent most of his working time with the
Gary Group which was bought by
General Telephone a short time before
his retirement.
Today the idea of local exchange ser-
vice provided by more than one com-
pany is considered revolutionary but
much of Mr. Greens telephone work ex-
perience was in towns and cities where
more than one telephone company pro-
vided local exchange service without in-
terconnection between the companies.
Competition for customers was keen,
and long distance service was provided
at the option of the company providing
that service.
S. B. Green continued managing the
company and in the mid-1950s began
seeking a buyer so that he could reduce
his workload. In June, 1958, one-half of
the common stock was sold to Marian
J. Harrison and Albert E. Harrison. The
remaining one-half of the stock was pur-
chased by the Harrisons in June, 1960.
Albert Harrison, president of the com-
pany, and his wife Nita are familiar and
supportive figures on the GTA scene.
Those giving effective leadership to
Ellijay Telephone Company today are
Marian Harrison, who is a registered
nurse having completed training at San
Bernardino County Hospital in Califor-
nia; Albert Harrison, a former transmis-
sion engineer with Pacific Telephone
and Telegraph Company; John M. Har-
rison, who began work for Ellijay
Telephone during his high school years
and, after graduating from the Univer-
sity of Georgia in 1974, has spent most
of his time in the commercial and ac-
counting areas; Quentin D. Holloway,
graduate of Southern Tech is now plant
superintendent; Roger Futch, formerly
with AT&T long lines, has been in
charge of central office equipment; and
Gwen Holt who has responsibility for
much of the commercial work at the
1986Ellijay Telephone Company's
modern business office and central
Other employees of the company in
1986 were:
Accounting: Frances Carson
John Weissinger
Central Office: Sammy Dover
Van Powell
Commercial: Eva Cantrell
Cindy Watkins
Joyce Whitaker
Plant: Bill Cantrell
Larry Clayton
Dale Cochran
Ellijah Davis
Cindi Hall
Keith Logan
Steve Parks
Stacy Pettit
Alvin Reece
Jack Stanley
Cleve Underwood
Building Superintendent: Richard Neal
For the past 28 years, after conver-
ting from the mamual switching system,
the growth in switching lines serving
customers has averaged nine percent per
year. Local development leads to the
belief that this rate of growth is likely
to continue.
The objective and purpose of the
stockholders and employees of Ellijay
Telephone Company have been to pro-
vide local exchange service of the best
quality for which its customers are will-
ing to pay. It has been a vital part of the
community and proposes to continue in
the changing environment of the future.
1957Ellijay Telephone
Company's entranoe cable
and total plant vehicular fleet.
Empire Telephone
(Authors Note: On October 24,
1983, Mid-Continent Telephone
Corporation and Allied Telephone
Company merged to form
ALLTEL Corporation. Empire
Telephone Company, one of nine
local exchange operating com-
panies in ALLTELs southern
region merged into ALLTEL
Georgia, Inc. on January 1,1986.)
Like many telephone companies that
began in the late 1800s, Empire
Telephone Company was bom out of the
necessity for quick and easy communica-
tions. A gentleman by the name of W.
C. Birchmore owned and operated a
small country store in 1894 near the
northeast Georgia community of Max-
eys. Mr. Birchmore and his family lived
only a short distance from the family
business in nearby Comer.
As his store prospered, Birchmore
recognized the increasing need for some
kind of simple communication system
between his home and business.
Demonstrating an unusual sense of the
need for communications, Birchmore
established a single line consisting of two
empty coffee cans and a waxed wire bet-
ween his store and home.
As he began to realize the potential
of this kind of communications, Bir-
chmore once again began stringing
wires. In 1897, he and some friends
started work on a telephone line that
would connect the town of Comer to the
county seat of Dcinielsville, some six
miles down the road. By todays stan-
dards the line was extremely crude. Old
soft drink bottles were used as insulators
and short limbs were left on the poles
so linemen could get up and down to
perform installation and repair work.
After recognizing the demand for
telephone communciations, Birchmore
decided to turn his ideas into a business
venture. In 1899, the Comer-Danielsville
Telephone Company was chartered by
Georgia. Originally the company serv-
ed the communities of Ha, Sandy Cross,
Danielsville, and Comer.
During 1920, the Comer-Danielsville
Telephone Company extended its lines
into Colbert, Athens, and Carlton. By
1921, the company was providing
telephone service to nearly 200
Magneto switchboards were located in
the homes of operators who knew
everyone who had a telephone con-
nected to their particular exchange. As
the company continued to expand, con-
struction crews were forced to erect
campsites on location rather than use
horses and wagons to haul men and
equipment back to Comer each night.
The Comer-Danielsville Telephone
Company continued its expansion efforts
through the 20s, 30s, and early 40s.
In the late 1940s, rural telephone ser-
vice was poor and many companies
across the nation were on the verge of
failure. Telephone rates were simply not
high enough to cover the costs
associated with continued expansion.
In 1949, the Comer-Danielsville
Telephone Company applied for a loan
Oldest operator and board
at Danielsville.
Pictured above with a portrait of the late John Birchmore are the former officers of the Empire
Telephone Company. (L-R) Mrs. Mary B. Burousas, 1st. Vice President, Charlotte Birchmore, President,
John C. Birchmore, Vice President and Secretary, and Alex N. Burousas. Vice President and Treasurer.
of more than a million dollars from the
newly formed Rural Electrification Ad-
ministration (REA). On August 4,1950,
the Comer-Danielsville Telephone Com-
pany became the first company in
Georgia and the fifth company in the na-
tion to receive an REA loan. The capital
generated by this loan was put to work
immediately. The company began the
long, complicated process of converting
all of their old magneto equipment to
the modem dial system. Following more
than two years of extensive office and
outside plant improvements, the com-
pany was ready for the dial system
On June 13,1953, Mrs. T. L. Henley
made the first telephone call on the
companys new dial system to her son
who was stationed in California. The in-
stallation of the dial system marked the
end of crank telephones and magneto
In the neighboring county of
Oglethorpe, telephone service was
similiar to what it had been in Comer
and Danielsville prior to the dial con-
version. In 1956 the company decided
to purchase the N. D. Arnold Telephone
Company which served the communities
of Crawford, Lexington, and Winterville.
A few years later, the company also pur-
chased the Union Point Telephone
Company. By the end of 1959, work was
completed and these additional com-
munities were converted to the dial
system. Shortly after these im-
provements, the Comer-Danielsville
Telephone Company name was shorten-
ed to Comer Telephone Company.
Several months later it was changed to
Empire Telephone Company.
By the mid-60s. Empire Telephone
Company provided reliable, affordable
telephone service to more than 2,500
customers in ten exchanges.
On May 19, 1965, the company held
an open house for its customers,
employees, and community dignitaries
to celebrate the completion of their new
commercial office. In June of 1974, Em-
pire Telephone Company merged with
Mid-Continent Telephone Corporation,
one of the nations major telephone
holding companies. At the time of the
merger. Empire Telephone Company
served approximately 10,000 telephones
in ten exchanges operating in six coun-
ties of northeast Georgia.
Empire Telephone Company, and
ALLTELs location in Georgia,
represents telephonys latest technology
while providing reliable service to its
customers throughout the state.
Fairmount Telephone
Company, Inc.
The Fairmount Telephone Company
was organized as a proprietorship by Mr.
P. H. Green, a local jewelry merchant
and entrepreneur in 1908. Located on
the city square at Fairmount, the
original exchange included a small
magneto switchboard and two
In a few years the company was pro-
viding telephone service to about 30 to
40 subscribers with a fee of $1 per
month. Business houses paid an addi-
tional 25*1 per month.
In 1920 this proprietorship was
bought by H. D. Lacey. The home of-
fice was located in a residence. The com-
pany successfully installed one circuit on
railroad poles to Cartersville, creating
some access to the outside world. This
single circuit served adequately for
several years carrying a few long distance
calls. It is documented that Southern
Bell rendered settlement statements and
paid the commissions in postage stamps.
The number of telephones grew to 75
in the next decade where it leveled off
through 1949. Rates remained the same
with monthly collections being done per-
sonally by a member of the family.
Mr. Laceys advancing years eventually
required that the eldest son, Edward D.
Lacey, take over the company which had
established a proud reputation of ser-
vice to its customers.
At this point the magneto exchange
was discontinued, and a new dial switch
was installed. This switch was capable
of providing service to as many as 400
subscribers. Coincident with this ven-
ture, the owners applied for and receiv-
ed a rate of $2.50 a month thus laying
the foundation for a modern-day com-
pany serving 250 subscribers. Growth
demanded that at least two long distance
circuits serve the area.
Fairmount Telephones certified area
covers parts of five counties located one
hours drive northwest of Atlanta in the
heart of the carpet industry. Situated in
an area that would obviously increase
in demand for more and better
telephone service, the company under-
took another expansion program in
1960. Financing was arranged through
REA for construction of a building to
house new automatic equipment capable
of serving 2,000 subscribers.
Existing plant, accommodating 800
subscribers, had to be expanded in the
early 1970s to satisfy the growth. Low
rates kept the companys revenue at a
very modest level. At that time the
operation of the company was carried
on by five employees.
By 1980 the number of subscribers
doubled, and corresponding adjustments
in engineering and operation were
made. Equipment, service trucks, and
employees were added. The company
also established a data processing
Current growth equals the state
average, and management continues its
program of expansion and improvement.
In 1985 the subscriber list was ap-
proaching 2,000 with both local and
long distance revenues growing cor-
respondingly. Plans have already been
formulated and approved for a new
digital central office and remote equip-
ment designed for substantial future
growth and increased services.
The sale of the company to Mr. H. E.
Bovay, Jr. and Mr. Otis Miller of
Houston, Texas, in early 1987 marked
the end of a 77-year ownership by one
familythe original founder was a blood
relative of the E. D. Lacey family. The
new owners have been in the telecom-
munications business many years and
operate companies in Alabama and
Mississippi. They are committed to con-
tinued high-quality service to their
General Telephone
Of The South
A Jigsaw Puzzle History
General Telephone Company of the
South, a subsidiary of the GTE Corpora-
tion, first began providing communica-
tion services to the people of Georgia
in 1955. At that time the company had
just over 22,000 customers scattered in
the central part of the state.
But growth came quickly to General
Telephone as it did to many other
Georgia industries. Within five years the
companys number of customers had
almost tripled.
Today General Telephone Company
of the South has 67 Georgia exchanges
serving over 168,000 customers in 50
counties covering 12,000 square miles
of area. As a result of this growth, two
divisions were establishedNorth and
Southwith headquarters in Dalton and
A continuing program of service im-
provements and equipment additions
has brought GTEs investment in
Georgia to over $310 million. In 1985
alone, over $50 million was spent on
construction of telephone facilities.
The moving force behind all the wire,
cables, poles, and equipment is, of
course, people. There are 982 Georgians
working for General Telephone in jobs
ranging from installer-repairer to cen-
tral office equipment technician to
operator. In 1985, GTEs employees in
the state received over $24.4 million in
salaries and benefits. The company paid
over $5 million in local and state taxes.
The First Piece of the Puzzle
In 1955, the General System first mov-
ed into the Peach State when it acquired
the telephone and manufacturing pro-
perties of Theodore Gary and Company
merging them with the General
Telephone System, composed of
585,000 telephones through 25
operating companies in 17 states. Garys
Georgia operations, known as Georgia
Continental Telephone Company, in-
cluded 15,643 customers in Toccoa,
Lavonia, Carnesville, Winder, Monroe,
Marshallville, Perry, Ideal, Montezuma,
Unadilla, Mt. Vernon, McRae, Buena
Vista, Abbeville, Preston, Ashburn,
Dawson, Cuthbert, Shellman, Ft.
Gaines, Morgan, Edison, Bluffton, Bar-
wich, Quitman, Adel, Nashville, and
By the time it merged into the
Southeast Company, a subsidiary of
GTE, in October, 1957, Georgia Con-
tinental Telephone Company had begun
acquisition of the Southeastern
Telephone Company in Fitzgerald which
also served Ocilla and Irwinville. The
merger of this company into Georgia
Continental took place in March, 1957,
and included another 11,816 stations.
Also that October, the Milledgeville
Telephone and Telegraph Company,
serving roughly 3,000 stations, was ac-
quired by General; however, it was not
merged with the Southeast Company un-
til 1960.
The Other Side of the Puzzle
Another major acquisition took place
in 1961, when GTE acquired the Kirk
Telephone System, serving portions of
Alabama and northwest and southwest
Cutover of exchange now
owned by GTE. Bob Alford
and Slim Martin pictured in the
Georgia. As with all of the GTE acquisi-
tions, the corporation held the acquired
property until the subsidiary (the
Southeast Company in this instance)
could generate enough capital, or stock,
to purchase the holdings.
So, until GTSE could purchase the
Kirk System holdings, GTE established
two new General Telephone Companies.
The Kirk holdings in Georgia con-
sisted of 25,600 telephones among eight
companies in 22 counties. The largest
company. Consolidated Telephone, serv-
ed Moultrie, Doerun, Norman Park, and
Berlin in southwest Georgia. The Dalton
Telephone Company served Dalton,
Cohutta, and Tunnel Hill. Summerville
Telephone Company served Menlo,
Summerville and Lyerly. The Gold Leaf
Telephone Company served Ray City,
Lakeland, Hahira, Morven, Pavo,
Boston, Meigs, and Coolidge. Four
other companies served single
exchanges-Chatsworth Telephone
Company, Douglas Telephone Com-
pany, Trion Telephone Company, and
Broxton Telephone Company.
In February, 1964, GTE acquired the
Canton Telephone Company, serving
5.000 telephones in the county seat
communities of Canton and Jasper. This
company, along with an ex-subsidiary of
Consolidated, the Gold Leaf Telephone
Company mentioned earlier, was merg-
ed into General Telephone of Georgia
in August, 1965.
Since then, only one other company
has been added to General Telephones
Georgia holdingsthe Mutual
Telephone Company in Manchester.
This company, consisting of roughly
3.000 stations in Manchester, Warm
Springs, and Woodland, was acquired
in February, 1967. On December 31,
1970, all of the Georgia properties were
merged into General Telephone of the
Southeast which became General
Telephone of the South December 31,
The name change to General
Telephone of the South reflects the
merger of GTEs Southeast Company
consisting of state operations in
Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina,
South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia
with General Telephone Company of
The company serves approximately
one million customers through 7,500
employees in eight states.
General Telephone Company
Milestones (in Georgia)
NovemberMonroeindividual ringing
on party lines instead of code rings
AprilPerrydial conversion
Warehouse at Commerce
Thomas L. Johnson,
Ronald (Pete)Allen.
Georgia Continentals
Monroe cutover.
1957Starting a new building
in Dalton, Georgia.
MarchDawsondial telephone plant
long distance operators can dial
any city without going through
another operator
MarchOcilladial conversion
Julyfirst telephones in rural areas of
Irwin County Georgia
MarchGeneral Telephone merges with
Sylvania, named changed to
General Telephone & Electronics
March4000th telephone installed in
JuneCuthbert dial conversion
JulyMilledgevillegoes to two/five
digit phone numbers
September30,000th telephone install-
ed in Georgia
SeptemberDial conversionWinder
Octoberacquired territory in
Southeast Alabama and northwest
and south Georgia (Kirk System)
November40,000 stations
GTSE took over all Bell System-
owned private line teletypewriter
service in GTSE area
Marketing and sales for first time
exceeded $1 million in 1 year
FebruaryGT&E acquired Canton
Telephone Co.
Februaryacquisition of Mutual
Telephone Co. of Manchester
OctoberDDDMonroe district
MarchDalton toll services desk (TDS)
conversion/dedication ceremony
OctoberDalton main electronic
automatic exchange (EAX) elec-
tronic conversion
JanuaryWinder electronic conversion
JulyGTSEs 250,000th telephone in-
stalled in Georgia (Dalton)
JulyGTSEs first fiber optic in Georgia
installed in Montezuma
AugustChatsworth digital conversion
DecemberMontezuma, Byromville,
Ideal digital conversions
The Blakely Telephone Company was
organized in Blakely in early 1898 by
brothers Arthur G. and Wade H. Powell,
members of a prominent Blakely fami-
ly. The business charter was issued to
Arthur G. Powell, R. B. Daniel and Jule
Felton. It was owned by the two Powell
brothers with Arthur G. Powell serving
as president and Wade H. Powell serv-
ing as secretary-treasurer. The company,
later owned by Mrs. Maude Powell, ex-
wife of Wade H. Powell, was sold to their
daughter, Mrs. Maude Powell McCabe,
in 1943. The first Blakely Telephone
Company directory was published in Ju-
ly, 1898, with 72 subscribers.
Blakely Telephone Company was in-
corporated in 1949 with Mrs. Maude
Powell McCabe as president, and
stockholders were Mrs. Ruth Powell
McCalla, Arthur G. Powell, and Wade
H. Powell.
The original central office equipment
was a Kello^ magneto switchboard, and
telephone sets were Kellogg and
Stromberg-Carlson magneto. The serv-
Company President with
Administrative Co-ordinators (L to
R) Vivian Sammons, Frances
Coleman, Betty Hollinhead, Marcile
Clarke, Pat Kennedy, Charles
DeLoach, and Dennis Lewis.
ing area was approximately one square
mile. By the end of 1899, lines were ex-
tended to surrounding communities in-
cluding Cedar Springs, Damascus, Arl-
ington, Jakin, and Liberty Hill with pro-
bably one telephone per community.
In 1950, the magneto equipment was
replaced with a modern Stromberg-
Carlson XY dial system.
In July, 1954, W. Charles DeLoach
purchased the company from the Powell
family. He continued to operate under
the name of Blakely Telephone Com-
pany until 1958. At that time, a new cor-
poration known as Georgia Telephone
Corporation was formed, and the ac-
quisition of the Whigham Telephone
Company and the Ochlochnee
Telephone Company was made. Georgia
Telephone Corporation was formed by
the following officers: W. Charles
DeLoach, president; Gloria Dake
DeLoach, vice president; and Bernice
Loyless, secretary-treasurer.
An expansion program in the late fif-
ties made service available to everyone
in the certified exchange area which in-
cluded most of Early County and part
of Grady and Thomas Counties. In 1963
a new exchange was formed in Cedar
Springs to provide service to Great
Southern Land and Paper Company, a
multi-million dollar paper company
located on the Chattahoochee River in
Early County.
The funding for Georgia Telephone
Corporation has been provided through
a commercial lending corporation.
General Dynamics.
For many years the company has been
an active member of several organiza-
tions including Georgia Telephone
Association, USTA, and OPASTCO.
The DeLoach family continues to own
and operate Georgia Telephone Cor-
poration at this time. Charlie is a
valuable asset and an active participant
in GTA positions and activities.
Left: Attractive headquarters
buildingGeorgia Telephone
Right: Charles
DeLoach who purchased
the company in 1954.
No reliable records are available on
the Glenwood Telephone Company
located in Glenwood, Wheeler County,
prior to 1940. We do know that in
January, 1940, W. H. (Harvey) and
Odessa Jones purchased an existing
telephone exchange.
Then on January 2, 1943, they sold
the company to Leon B. and Eloise Cox
Adams. Glenwood Telephone had 33
subscribers. The one-party residence
Leon B. Adams, former owner of
Glenwood Telephone Company.
rate was $1.50 per month and the one-
party business rate was $2.50. Total col-
lections for that month were $56.
Mr. Adams was bom and raised in
Hart County and had traveled all over
Georgia and South Carolina with the
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) dur-
ing the war. Mrs. Adams was bom and
raised in Alamo, the county seat of
Wheeler County.
The house occupied by Mr. and Mrs.
Jones was part of the purchase because
that is where the magneto switchboard
was located. Someone had to be
available 24 hours a day, seven days a
week to handle the calls, so Mrs. Adams
assumed this duty with help from various
local ladies including Mrs. Dot
McDaniel, Miss Jean Maddox, and a Miss
Customers not only used the
telephone to communicate with their
neighbors and do business, but they also
used the business office (the front room
of the Adams residence) as a place to
visit and to keep up with what was go-
ing on in the community, as an answer-
ing service, and as a way to notify peo-
ple who did not have phones of family
news and emergencies. While of great
benefit to the area, these services fail-
ed to provide the necessary funds to
operate a struggling telephone company.
In order to keep the company in
operation, Mr. Adams did electrical
work, delivered mail, and did other odd
jobs. The only help he had was his old
Dodge tmck and, occasionally, a man
he hired to help with very hard jobs he
just could not do by himself.
In September, 1945, the Adams had
a daughter, Janice Eloise, and in March,
1953, another daughter, Beverly, was
born. Beverly was killed in an
automobile accident in September,
The telephone office remained in the
Adams home until 1956 when an office
was built to house the business office
and Stromberg-Carlson XY 120-line
configured exchange. The former W. H.
Jones homethe original telephone
company location now serves as the
business office.
Following Mr. Adams death in 1982,
his daughter, Janice OBrien, took over
the management and operation of Glen-
wood Telephone. In 1986 the company
served 650 customers.
Janice is an outstanding example of
the many capable women managing in-
dependent telephone systems in
Georgia. Women, such as Janice, are
champions of the industry.
Hart County
Hart County Telephone Company was
established when F. P. Linder purchas-
ed the company in 1903. During the for-
mative years of the telephone industry,
many attempts were made to buy out
smaller, unstable independent com-
panies who struggled to earn a place for
themselves within the developing in-
dustry. Through the strong will, convic-
tion and determination of F. P. Linder,
Hart County Telephone Company sur-
vived those hard times to claim a posi-
tion within the telephone industry of the
early 1900s.
Like many other independents, HCTC
had progressed from magneto phones
to common battery, barely keeping pace
with the technological advances of the
telephone industry. However, in the ear-
ly 1950s it became evident to Spencer
and Frank Linderwho succeeded their
fatherthat it was no longer feasible to
maintain and operate HCTCs 1000
lines with the outdated, manually-
operated magneto switching board. The
quality of service was beginning to be
affected and something had to be done.
In 1951 HCTC purchased three com-
mon battery, multiple switching boards
from Rock Hill Telephone Company.
The additional switchboards gave HCTC
a limited amount of expansion
capabilities and improved service. The
change from one magneto board to
three common battery boards was an in-
termediary switch to be used before
HCTC could totally convert to XY dial.
In 1956, the Linder brothers signed
a contract with Stromberg-Carlson to
convert HCTC from its antiquated
equipment to XY dial. Spencer and
Frank Linder along with their nephews.
Jack Barton and William Anderson,
began the tedious task of going from
house to house converting common bat-
tery phones to dial. The job took
months, but eventually all Hart County
subscribers had dial telephones in their
homes. This step would prove to be only
the first of many that HCTC would take
to improve its service to the Hart County
subscriber base.
The 1960s and 70s proved to be years
of dynamic population growth for Hart
County. Hartwell Lake had begun to at-
tract not only weekend residents, but
also a significant retirement communi-
ty, and the impact of increased demands
for phone service was already pushing
the XY switch to its capacity. Moreover,
as HCTC approached the decade of the
80s, the telephone industry itself was
undergoing radical changes due to the
divestiture of the Bell system. Faced with
the immediate demands of a growing
subscriber base and the inevitability of
a deregulated environment, HCTC mov-
ed boldly to meet the challenges that lay
A deregulated telephone industry
meant competition; accordingly. Lintel,
Inc. was established as a holding com-
pany for the subsidiaries emerging to
compete in the marketplace. In
December, 1982, Hart Communications,
Inc. began to provide sales and service
of telephone station equipment for both
the residential and business communi-
ty. Since its inception, HCI has become
one of the primary vendors of key
systems and PBX equipment for the nor-
theast Georgia and Anderson areas and
now generates revenues from a wide
range of enterprises including pagers,
yellow page advertising and a time and
temperature service.
The real story of the 1980s, however,
centers on the decision to upgrade
telephone service to HCTCs subscriber
base. On October 28,1983, through the
collective efforts of Frank, William, Jack
and his son, Lee Barton, HCTC signed
a contract with Stromberg-Carlson to
provide a 120-channel host-to-remote
lightwave connection. HCTC was the
first independent company to install the
newly introduced optical fiber transmis-
sion system.
The new system linked a 6000-line
SYSTEM CENTURY digital central of-
fice in Hartwell with a 1080-line switch
in Reed Creek, approximately seven
miles north of Hartwell. An additional
102 channels were included in the link
for protection and expansion
capabilities, as well as comprehensive
transmission between the two digital
central office switches. Later, in 1986,
an additional 1080-line switch remote
was built in Mt. Olivet, approximately
eight miles northwest of Hartwell.
1956"Going Dial"
(L-R) Spencer Linder,
the late Mayor Shine Carter,
and Frank Linder.
Signing contract converting
to a digital switch and fiber optics.
(L-R) Ralph Woodlee,
Jesse Lumpkin, Lee Barton, vice
president, Jack Barton, executive
vice president.
Plans were immediately made by
William, Frank, Jack and Lee to begin
preliminary designs for a new commer-
cial office and switching station to house
the new Stromberg-Carlson switch. The
$2 million project called for a building
to be constructed on the property ad-
joining the old office. The building was
to have over 8,000 square feet of floor
space making provision for the new
digital central office and projected ex-
pansion within the company itself.
The building became a reality for
HCTC when it opened in mid-July in
1984, while the switching station
change-over took place in November of
the same year. With the new switch
came a variety of improved services,
such as speed dialing, call waiting, and
automatic traps to deal with illegal
nuisance calls.
On December 18,1984, the new facili-
ty was christened The Linder Building
and dedicated to the memories of F. P.
Linder and Spencer S. Linder, and in
honor of Frank L. Linder. It is in this
building that the collective visions of
these dedicated men were realized.
Hart County Telephone Company has
come a long way from its inception in
1903, guided by the devoted manage-
ment of the Linders, William Anderson,
Jack Barton, and his children, Lee and
Lynnan entire family committed to
carrying on an 85-year tradition which
began at the turn of the century and now
stands on the threshold of another.
Telephone Co.
About 1909, W. A. Jennings and J.
T. King, Sr. decided to venture into the
telephone business by purchasing the
Milledgeville telephone exchange. Mr.
Jennings and Mr. King were brothers-
in-law who worked for the Western
Union Telegraph Company as construc-
tion foreman and straw boss. They took
in a third party in this venture. Judge
John T. Allen.
In 1913, these three partners purchas-
ed the Hawkinsville exchange from a Mr.
Blasengame and continued the opera-
tion of both exchanges for a year or
more when the two brothers-in-law
became sole owners through the pur-
chase of Judge Allens interests. (It is in-
teresting to note that the minutes of a
1913 directors meeting record that Mr.
Jennings was paid $2.50 per month for
the use of his horse, buggy, and harness
by the company.)
A short time later, they divided the
property, with the Jennings family tak-
ing over complete ownership of the
Hawkinsville property and the King
family remaining sole owner of the
Milledgeville property.
Mr. Jennings, who played a formidable
role in early organized independent
telephony, died in 1938 leaving the
business to several children. About 1947
two sons, W. M. and J. C., purchased
the interests of the others.
It was also in 1938 that a Kellogg
common battery system was installed to
replace the old ringdown drop. This
vastly improved the quality of telephone
service. With a capacity of 800 lines, the
switchboard would provide for an in-
creased number of subscribers, for
changes in local, rural, or toll growth
and for other changing conditions. The
system was cut over with 260 lines equip-
ped, ten toll lines, and ten rural lines.
Another milestone was reached in
1954 when Hawkinsville Telephone con-
verted to dial service and installed a toll
center housed in a new building design-
ed to serve the company for the next 40
In 1968 it became apparent that the
growth of the area was such that the
company would be lucky to make 20
years in the building. Plans to expand
were initiated; however, it was 1972
before construction actually got under-
way on an office adequately designed to
fit the companys needs.
The cutover of a new electronic swit-
ching system was the first Class 4 office
in use although the prototype for local
switching was designed for Disney World
in Orlando, Florida. The system provid-
ed direct distance dialing, pushbutton
dialing, call forwarding, and many other
Ownership of the Hawkinsville
Telephone Company was passed on to
the third generation when W. Mansfield
Jennings, Jr. purchased his fathers in-
terest in the company in 1971 and his
uncles in 1980. W. Mansfield Jennings,
III is preparing himself to carry on the
tradition by his involvement in all phases
of the business. He has participated ac-
tively in a number of GTA positions in-
cluding serving two terms as president
of tbe association.
This family operation has added much
to GTA as the Jennings family has pro-
vided outstanding leadership and
Hawkinsville Telephone Company is one
of the oldest telephone companies in
In 1985 the company announced the
installation of a new central office swit-
ching system to serve its 3,500
customers in Pulaski, Houston, Dodge,
Bleckley and Dooly Counties. Cut into
service February 23,1985, the Northern
Telecom DMS 100/200 is the first part
of a three-year plan that calls for in-
tegrating fiber optic transmission and
digital switching.
Hawkinsville Telephone Companys
innovative management has equipped it
well to meet the challenges of growth,
new technology, and changes in the in-
dustry today and tomorrow.
Lanier to change out his telephone in-
struments, independently manufactured
by a New York concern, to Bell in-
struments and to purchase an electric
light board. In 1904 he changed to com-
mon battery service, probably the first
common battery service established in
any office of that size.
An interesting story concerns the bat-
teries used in this service. Mr. Lanier
visited Mr. Thomas A. Edison in his
laboratory to discuss with him the bat-
tery needs of the new telephone system.
Mr. Edison said to him, Young man,
my batteries have never been used in a
telephone system, but if you install them,
you will be gray haired before they come
out. Mr. Lanier bought the Edison bat-
teries which operated for more than 30
In 1911 the company installed a
Kellogg five position, full-multiple com-
mon battery switchboard and moved in-
to a new office building near the Chat-
tahoochee River. This was the first
building in Georgia designed exclusive-
ly to house an independent telephone
companys telephone equipment. Bet-
ween 1911 and 1950 many equipment
changes were made with the constant
objective of improved service. In 1950,
2,200 stations were being served, by In-
terstate Telephone Company.
The 1960s was a period of growth and
expansion for Interstate. In 1961 they
bought the Valley Telephone Company
from West Point Manufacturing. A new
building was constructed in 1965 for the
main offices, supply department, con-
struction department, service center.
In the background, James
Smith Lanier and in the fore-
ground, Thomas C. Lanier, in
the office of Interstate
Telephone Company, 1912.
Note the crane-like attachment
on side of desk to swing the
telephone from one desk to
the other.
Telephone Company
In 1895 a visit to the Cotton States
Exposition held in Atlantas Piedmont
Park inspired a young man from West
Point, to return home to introduce the
magic of voice communication. Recall-
ing the switchboard with three
telephones connected to it, J. Smith
Lanier engaged two Robinson brothers,
who were building West Points first
electric light plant, to build a telephone
Built on the magneto grounded line
basis, the exchange opened for service
in the spring of 1896 with 36 sub-
scribers. The exchange was located on
the second floor of the Langley Mill
A toll line built in 1898 by Southern
Belt from Charleston, South Carolina,
to Montgomery, Alabama, intersected
West Point because of its geographical
location. The line foreman for the con-
struction crew was W. T. Gentry, who
later became president of Southern Bell.
Mr. Gentry made it possible for Mr.
Four generations of the Lanier family,
(L-R) Cam B. Lanier, Jr.. J. Smith Lanier,
Cam B. Lanier, Sr.. Cam B. Lanier, III.
operator services, and additional XY
equipment. Exchanges were establish-
ed in Huguley and Shawmut, Alabama.
In 1968 the Fredonia, Alabama, ex-
change was established. Mobile
telephone service and manual paging
were also inaugurated.
Office remodeling, installation of
direct distance dialing and international
direct dialing, and cutover of a
Stromberg-Carlson ESC PL2 6000-line
switch were completed as part of In-
terstates $5 million expansion and im-
provement program begun in 1976.
Huguley, Alabama, got its own construe
tion center, and a new centralized ser-
vice center greatly increased the com-
panys ability to respond to its
customers needs.
Dial paging was installed in 1984. The
following year a Northern digital
multiplex system 100/200 switch was
added in the West Point office to inter-
face all toll and billing services, including
automatic credit card dialing. Operator
positions were fully automated to furnish
prompt customer service.
A sad note to this story is the pass-
ing of Cam B. Lanier, Sr. on November
9, 1986. Mr. Lanier was a unique and
special individual and will be missed as
he leaves a trail of many ac-
complishments during his years of ser-
vice in the telephone industry.
Interstate Telephone Company takes
great pride in its commitment to pro-
gress and believes that dedicated
employees are responsible for In-
terstates progressive family of com-
panies. Five generations of the Lanier
family have given the company stability
and continuity in its endeavor to pro-
vide dependable telephone service.
Telephone Company1965.
Nelson-Ball Ground
Telephone Company
The Nelson-Ball Ground Telephone
Company was first organized by Mrs.
Luther Thomason. There was one swit-
chboard at Nelson, which had only three
telephones. One of the three telephones
was at the depot in Tate, one was at a
dry goods store in Ball Ground, and the
other one was at the telephone booth
in the exchange at Nelson.
In 1919, the company was purchas-
ed by Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Cook of Fair-
mount. At that time, there were less than
50 telephones with two exchanges, one
in Ball Ground and one in Nelson.
Mr. Cook had no linemen. He climb-
ed the telephone poles and did all the
repair work with no professional help or
any previous training. All the lines were
open wire with no cable. As the
subscribers increased, there were as
many as six to eight parties on one line.
Upon recalling this, Mr. Cook once said,
When one persons telephone rang, all
of them rang, and it would really be a
Southern Bell Telephone Company
operated one long distance circuit from
Marietta. It was set up with a system of
ringing for each exchange. It rang twice
for Ball Ground and once for Nelson.
The first improvements made by Mr.
and Mrs. Cook came around 1930. Each
exchange was opened at 7:00 a.m and
closed at 8:00 p.m. The people were
thrilled to death about the good ser-
vice. Several' years later, the exchanges
were kept open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00
Business rates at that time were $1.50
and the residence rate was $1, with no
tax charged. When the company levied
a tax on telephone usage, a number of
customers were lost because they refus-
ed to pay the increased rate.
Doctors Saye, West, McClure, and
Hendrix of Ball Ground and Dr. Turk
of Nelson began to request individual
lines. This brought about the first stage
of planning for private lines.
The company didnt have a telephone
directory. The subscribers would simp-
ly pick up the telephone and ask to call
McKinneys store, the doctor, or
whomever they wanted to talk to. The
operator was responsible for keeping all
the lines straight.
The exchange in Nelson was burned
to the ground in 1928. Through the
courtesy of Georgia Marble Company in
Tate, a small exchange was erected in
a few days to replace it.
In 1943, on Christmas Eve night,
there was a big snow in the area, and
all the lines were torn down on Main
Street in Ball Ground and Main Street
in Nelson. The ground was very wet and
the heavy snow that had piled up on the
wires caused the poles to be pulled com-
pletely out of the ground. On Christmas
Day, which was a Sunday, a group of
people from Ball Ground, along with
another group from Georgia Marble
Company, volunteered to reset the
poles. All the telephones were back in
working order by nightfall.
An outstanding event in the history
of Georgia telephony occurred when, in
1951, the company switched to dial, and
they had a mock funeral for the old
crank telephone in front of the new of-
fice in Nelson. An Atlanta television sta-
tion covered these services. The direc-
tor from Baker Funeral Home brought
the crank telephone in a little white
casket out to the site of the grave. At-
torney Guy McKinney, of Ball Ground,
was Master of Ceremonies. It was
stated that Mr. and Mrs. Cook appeared
to be crying during the ceremony.
When Mr. Cook passed away in 1958,
Mrs. Cook became president of the com-
pany. Their son, James Starr Cook, mov-
ed to Nelson to become manager. In
1960 new office buildings were erected
at Nelson and Marble Hill. North Elec-
tric NX2 crossbar equipment replaced
tbe North MCXR 1000, board which was
moved to the Marble Hill office. EAS
service was established between the two
Following the death of James S. Cook
in 1964, Robert L. Turner became
general manager. Since that time,
Nelson-Ball Ground has continued to
keep pace with growth and changing
technology. Some important changes
and additions to its facilities since 1966
1966Removed the North MCXR
1000 board at Marble Hill and in-
stalled North Electric NX2-A
1969Established EAS service
from Nelson and Marble Hill ex-
changes to Jasper, Canton, and
Holly Springs.
1976Installed carrier facilities
and assumed responsibility of pro-
viding toll and special services
from Southern Bell.
1981 Cutover to Vidar digital
equipment in both Nelson and
Marble Hill exchanges, providing
touchtone and custom calling
features for the first time.
1982 Vidar remote switch digital
equipment was installed in Big
Canoe. Big Canoe is a recreational
and residential community
developed in Dawson and Pickens
Counties by a large real estate firm
out of Atlanta. The development
is served by Nelson-Ball Ground
Telephone Company and Stan-
dard Telephone Company. EAS
service connects the two
1983 Installed IBM System-34
and LAMA (local automatic
message accounting) recording
and assumed full recording and
billing for all direct dialed calls.
1984 Installed and cut over to
new toll cable facilities for toll ser-
vice from northern to southern
boundaries. Service is also provid-
ed through the area for all com-
panies north from Blue Ridge
Telephone Company south to the
companys southern boundary.
1985 2,500 subscribers; digital
switching; five Mitel PABXs; com-
puterized; ten radio dispatched
trucks; fourteen employees; 100
per cent private line service in all
areas served.
Nelson-Ball Ground Telephone Com-
pany is another Georgia independent
telephone company keeping alive a
pioneer dedication to provide the best
possible communications services for its
Pembroke Telephone
Company, Inc.
Pembroke Telephone Company had
its inception as Pembroke Telephone
and Water Works. U. S. Williams,
mayor of Pembroke and owner of the
water works, started the company in
The water works was later sold to the
city of Pembroke; however, Mr. Williams
continued to operate the telephone
company until 1940 when his health fail-
ed. C. R. Sikes of Glennville purchased
the company and renamed it Sikes
Telephone Company. Mr. Sikes was an
early telephone builder in this section
of Georgia who is believed to have had
a part in the creation of the telephone
exchange at Glennville.
Following tours of duty in the United
States Army Air Force, Paul and Ivey
Beardslee purchased the company from
Mr. Sikes and began operation of the
Pembroke Telephone Company as of
March 31, 1946. At that time the
magneto system served 112 stations off
of grounded lines.
On November 29, 1951, Paul was
electrocuted while taking down open
lines that he had replaced with cable.
A wire went wild two blocks away and
hit a power transformer. Ivey elected to
continue operation of the company. Her
father, U. J. Bacon, and her brother,
Gerald C. Bacon, joined her in this
A Stromberg-Carlson loan secured in
1954 made it possible to purchase and
install Stromberg-Carlson equipment to
convert to dial service in March, 1955.
At that time there were over 300 stations
in service.
On October 22, 1961, a new dial of-
fice was completed using REA funds.
This office would also house CAMA
(centralized automatic message accoun-
ting) trunks to provide DDD (direct
distance dialing) service. Pembroke
Telephone is recognized as the first in-
dependent telephone company in
Georgia to furnish this modern service
to its customers. Nine hundred stations
were served through new outside plant
that was 80 percent buried cable.
Owners of small telephone companies
have traditionally done more than Just
manage the operation. For example, a
Georgia Telephone Association news
bulletin printed in September, 1962,
reported that Ivey Beardslee did a vast
majority of the office work, as well as
trouble shooting for central office equip-
ment. Her brother, Gerald, did most of
the installations after completing his
mail route. Her father, at 70 years of
age, was very active in the company and
was only slowed down for a few months
when a telephone pole fell with him. He
was soon back climbing poles.
In July, 1974, the Ellabell exchange
was established. At the close of that
same year 1,650 telephones were in ser-
vice. Ten years later the company had
moved into the computer age by con-
verting to a digital switch in Pembroke.
Ivey Beardslee, owner of Pem-
broke Telephone Company,
may not have climbed poles but
she did everything else!
Pineland Telephone
Cooperative, Inc.
Pineland Telephone Cooperative was
organized on September 8, 1951, by a
group of interested people from
Emanuel and Candler Counties. The
purpose of the co-op was to merge
several small exchanges which had been
struggling over the years to serve their
communities. An insufficient revenue
base prevented proper maintenance and
expansion of the system.
After a number of meetings, the board
of directors approved the purchase of
telephone exchanges at Midville, Adrian,
Twin City, and Stillmore. Memberships
were obtained and equity certificates
sold to begin operation of the
cooperative. Money to purchase the four
exchanges and begin construction of
new facilities was made available by a
$625,000 REA loan obtained in March,
During its first year of operation,
Pineland Telephone purchased the Met-
ter exchange from Southeastern Com-
pany, which had owned it since 1928.
Metter was originally served by the Met-
ter Telephone Company, owned and
operatd by W. M. New. On April 8,
1919, Mr. New sold the company to W.
S. Long, who transferred it to Mrs. W.
S. Long on October 8, 1919. On
February 6, 1920, Mrs. Long sold the
company to Kenneth R. Trapnell. On
November 20, 1924, Mr. Trapnell sold
Metter Telephone Company to U. S.
Jones, who sold to Southeastern
During his tenure as secretary of GTA,
H. M. Stewart spent considerable time
visiting telephone companies across the
state. During one such visit the manager
of the newly formed Pineland Telephone
Cooperative asked whether his organiza-
tion would be eligible for GTA member-
Above: Director. Past
President, Marvin Hartley,
shown cut-over to dial of
Davisboro exchange.
Right: Pineland Telephone
Cooperative business office.
ship. Mr. Stewart assured him that there
were enough problems to share with all
who wanted to help and that his firm was
eligible for membership under the
bylaws of the association. From that day
forward, Pineland Telephone has been
in the vanguard of association affairs
providing able and dedicated leadership
in many of its activities.
Mr. E. R. Britt was involved in the
creation of the cooperative and was
named its manager. He was secretary
and treasurer of the Georgia Telephone
Association at one time.
By the end of 1953, Pineland
Telephone Cooperative was serving
1,480 stations. The system continued to
expand as more exchanges were
As of March, 1982, every subscriber
of the cooperative was being served by
one-party telephone service with rates
that were set in 1975. By the end of
1983, more than 13,000 telephones in
ten exchanges served rural communities
in Aline, Pulaski, Meeks, Norristown,
Scott, Covena, Nunez, Stillmore,
Wesley, Garfield, and Coleman Lake.
The exchanges are Metter, Adrian, Bar-
tow, Cobbtown, Davisboro, Kite, Lex-
sy, Midville, Oak Park, and Twin City.
The Pineland Telephone Cooperative
has stayed abreast of service demands,
carried on a steady construction pro-
gram, and kept pace with changing
technology. A 480 foot tower was con-
structed in 1967 in Twin City to facilitate
a mobile telephone system and a pag-
ing system. Three of its exchanges now
have digital central offices with a fourth
scheduled for conversion in July, 1987.
Mary Searson employed by Pineland for
a number of years (now retired) has
played an active role in the Peach State
Pioneer Club.
A. M. (Ben) Bennett, general
manager, held various management
positions with Southern Bell and Walker
County Telephone Company before
joining Pineland Telephone
Cooperative. He represents Georgia,
Florida, South Carolina, and the Com-
monwealth of Puerto Rico on the Na-
tional Telephone Cooperative Associa-
tion, and the is an officer and director
of the Georgia Telephone Association.
A. M. (Ben) Bennett, general
480 foot mobile telephone tower in
Twin City.
Plant Telephone
And Power
Company, Inc.
The Gleaton family entered the
telephone business late in the nine-
teenth century when Ben and Lula
Gleaton connected a magneto telephone
from their home in Doles to the farm
home of Lulas parents. After a second
line was strung to Bens commissary,
neighboring farmers wanted the conve-
nience of the telephone and additional
lines were strung. A Western Electric
switchboard was installed in the com-
missary where it was operated for
daytime service until 1913 when Ben
and Lulas son, Henry Perry, married
and moved the system to his home. A
hired operator. Marietta Lightfoot,
shared the day and evening operation
with Ben and Lulaservice was discon-
tinued around 10:00 p.m. each evening.
In 1919, the Doles telephone opera-
tion was sold to Johnny Lee Glddens.
Henry Perry Gleaton, his wife Eliza, and
five year old son James Perry moved to
Warwick where Henry took employment
with the Davis Aultman Mercantile Com-
pany as clerk-bookkeeper.
Nine years later the Gleatons purchas-
ed the inoperative Warwick Telephone
Company from J. W. Pate. The inven-
tory consisted of one Western Electric
switchboard no. 1240D, 23 telephones,
all telephone poles, and line material in
the town of Warwick.
Company records indicate the follow-
I ing station count in Warwick and Doles.
1929 1930 1931 1932 1933
Residential 20 24 22 13 9
Business 11 13 13 8 4
Party Lines 18 17 15 12 8
In 1932, with the community in need
of a power supply, the company petition-
ed the city of Warwick for a power fran-
chise. The Warwick Power Company
was formed and rates filed with the
Georgia Public Service Commission.
The telephone and power operations
were merged and incorporated as the
Warwick Power and Telephone Com-
pany in 1948.
Upon graduation from Warwick High
School in 1933, James Perry Gleaton
continued his work with the Warwick ex-
change, did contract work, and was later
employed full-time by Southern Bell
Telephone Company. From 1933 to
1935, he commuted from Warwick to
Americus and Cordele as a lineman. In
September, 1935, he married Allene
Grimsley in Americus. That same year,
he was transferred to Albany to work in
the Bell exchange.
Eliza, wife of
Henry Perry Gleaton.
Warwick became the first independent
telephone exchange in Georgia to have
automatic dialing in an exchange of less
than 100 lines when it was converted to
a completely automatic system in 1937.
This was a 50 line system with thirty
lines of subscribers. The independent
company operating today as Plant
Telephone and Power Company, Inc.
was referred to in E. B. Judge Emreys
book as follows: On one of my early
visits, I saw for the first time an
automatic exchange with less than a
hundred lines, and too, I remember that
the Bell company had no information
upon which to prepare a traffic agree-
ment for an exchange of this type for
a toll settlement.
The Doles Telephone Company had
passed from the Gleatons, to Mr. Gid-
dens, to Mr. A. P. Dykes. On March 22,
1937, the Gleatons reacquired all equip-
ment and lines serving customers firom
Building that housed the first dialing system.
Warwick, Georgia, 1937,
Doles, up Highway 33 to Isabella. Mr.
Dykes had discontinued operating the
Doles Telephone Company because the
general condition of the central office
and the outside plant were beyond
repair, and there was no money to
rebuild. The contract between Southern
Bell and the Doles Company was
cancelled, and Mr. Dykes informed
Southern Bell that the Warwick
Telephone Company would serve Doles.
Mr. Dykes turned over to H. P. Gleaton
all property of the Doles Telephone
Company for $50. The main items of
property consisted of poles, wire, and
telephones, including the line from
Doles to Isabella.
From 1938 to 1940, James (J. P.)
worked for Bell in tbe Camilla area. In
1940, he and his family moved to Tif-
ton where he continued to work for Bell
and run the family telephone and power
The Omega Telephone Company was
acquired by J. P. Gleaton in January,
1946, at which time its name was chang-
ed to Plant Telephone Company. The
name was chosen because at that time,
this exchange was located in what was
known as the starter plant capital of the
world. On December 1, 1948, Plant
Telephone was incorporated. In 1949
the Lenox exchange was constructed
and commenced operation in the latter
part of that year. The Omega and Lenox
exchanges were equipped with North
Electric automatic dial equipment and
had trunk connections with the
Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph
Company at Tifton, Georgia, for the in-
terchange of long distance messages
originating or terminating in the areas
served by the company.
Tifton was chosen as the headquarters
site because of its central location to the
exchanges, the availability of shipping
and banking, the market for personnel,
and the fact that Mr. Gleaton had
established his home there and liked the
Tifton area.
Henry Perry Gleaton died on March
9, 1949, leaving the operation of the
telephone and power business to his wife
Eliza, and his son James. During a six
months leave from the Bell company,
James was convinced that he should
assume full-time management of the
Warwick Power and Telephone Com-
pany and the Plant Telephone Com-
pany, so he left the Bell Company in the
fall of 1949.
On November 13,1950, Mr. Gleaton
purchased from A. F. Fender, the Pear-
son and Willacoochee Telephone Com-
pany for $1 cash in hand and the
assumption of payments on two notes.
With the purchase of the Pearson
Telephone Company came 129
telephones of various styles and makes,
one switchboard located on the second
floor of the A. F. Fender building at the
corner of North Main and North
Railroad Street, all of the poles,
telephone lines, wires, crossarms,
underground cables, and all fixtures us-
ed in connection with the operation of
the Pearson Telephone Company.
Plant Telephone and Power Com-
pany, Inc. was incorporated under the
laws of Georgia on October 20, 1951.
The corporation was formed for the pur-
pose of operating the Warwick Power
and Telephone Company, Inc. (which
owned and operated facilities for
distributing electric power and
automatic dial telephone service in War-
wick), Plant Telephone Company (which
owned and operated automatic dial
telephone exchanges in Omega and
Lenox), and the P. & W. Telephone
Company (which owned and operated
magneto type telephones in Pearson and
Willacoochee) as an entity.
The purpose of the merger of the
various companies was to obtain a loan
of $110,000 from the Chase National
Bank of New York City, enabling the
needed expansion of the Pearson and
Willacoochee exchanges. An additional
$35,000 from this same bank on
February 5,1953, enabled the company
to further improve and expand the ser-
vices in Lenox and Omega.
On September 20,1954, J. P. Gleaton
purchased the Pinehurst exchange from
P. T. Streetman. This exchange was pur-
chased by Gleaton personally and was
not a part of Plant Telephone and
Power Company, Inc. even though his
Plant trucks and linemen worked that
property on an allocation basis. It was
his intention to bring the Pinehurst
Company into Plant Telephone and
Power Company, Inc. as soon as he
received funds and approval from the
Rural Electrification Administration.
The Chase National Bank loan was us-
ed to convert to modern dial telephone
service in all the companys exchanges;
however, existing facilities were inade-
quate to meet the demand for service.
A loan contract with the REA executed
on March 17,1955, provided money to
cover the costs of expanding the service.
On March 13,1956, James P. Gleaton
negotiated with Mrs. Nora Belle Avery
and Otis M. Denton for the purchase of
the Soperton Telephone Company and
the Denton Rural Telephones of Soper-
ton, Treutlen County, at a cost of
$65,000, subject to REA and GPSC
In order to offset the cost of acquir-
ing and modernizing the Soperton ex-
change, the existing REA doan was
amended to make additional money
available. This move required the cor-
poration to increase its equity capital by
at least $14,000. It just so happened that
Mr. Gleaton had purchased property in
Tifton with the intention of moving his
mother, Eliza Gleaton, there from War-
wick. However, his mother, an indepen-
dent spirit, decided she would prefer to
stay in Warwick among friends she had
known most of her life. By this time it
had become apparent that the operation
of the company had outgrown its head-
quarters in the Gleaton home, so Mr.
Gleaton sold the Tifton property, ap-
praised at $15,500, to the company in
exchange for shares of stock. Thus the
need for increased capital equity and a
new operations center were accomplish-
ed. This building would be enlarged in
1962 to make additional space for in-
house accounting and in 1969 to accom-
modate a computer.
The purchase of the Soperton ex-
change was finalized in December,
1956. The following year property was
purchased on which to erect new ex-
change buildings in Soperton, Pearson,
and Warwick.
During 1958, the growth of the com-
panys business was such that its annual
operating revenues exceeded $100,000.
On September 21,1960, a lot was pur-
chased for the purpose of erecting a
mobile telephone and paging tower. On
March 20, 1961, Mrs. J. P. Gleaton
(Allene) became vice president and a
member of the board of directors. Also,
in the fall of 1961 EAS (extended area
service) from Omega to Tifton was in-
stalled. In March of that same year a lot
was purchased for the purpose of erec-
ting a new central office building in
On March 21, 1963, Georgia Power
Company and Plant Telephone and
Power Company, Inc. entered into a
lease agreement for the rights to pro-
vide service in Warwick, with an option
for Georgia Power to purchase the elec-
tric distribution system at the expiration
of the 25 year lease.
After a successful rate hearing for the
Soperton exchange, the board of direc-
tors approved a plan to upgrade the
Soperton outside plant to one, two, and
four party service in November, 1964.
On July 26, 1966, a lot was purchas-
ed in Lenox for the purpose of erecting
the new central office building, and in
December, EAS service was establish-
ed from Lenox to Tifton. In March,
1967, the project to upgrade the
facilities in Lenox was completed. On
September 29, 1967, the FCC granted
approval to upgrade the mobile
telephone operation to an IMTS mobile
telephone system.
About that time Mr. Gleaton was con-
sidering turning over more of the daily
administrative duties to other company
officials. The untimely death of his wife,
Allene, in 1969 suspended his plans, and
the company remained status quo for a
year or so.
In 1970, Plant filed with the GPSC for
authority to construct and operate a toll
line between Pearson and the boundary
line of the Way cross exchange of
Southern Bell. A milestone for Plant was
reached that same year, when the
5000th telephone was installed in
Willacoochee. Only ten years earlier, the
company had 2,409 telephones with a
total investment of $1,094,500. At the
end of 1970, the company had 5,188
telephones in service with a total invest-
ment of $3,464,026. At that time Mr.
Gleaton projected that the company
would reach a goal of 10,000 phones by
By the end of 1970 the Omega ex-
change had been converted to one, two,
and four party service. In November,
1970, Mr. Gleaton married Betty Goes.
Mrs. Gleaton left her employment with
the State Merit System the following
February and became active in the
telephone business as secretary and ad-
ministrative assistant to Mr. Gleaton. On
August 10,1971, Betty A. Gleaton was
elected vice president. In December Mr.
Gleaton announced that Fred L. Bailey
would become vice president and
general manager of the company to ease
the burden of the daily work from Mr.
Gleaton. Mr. Gleaton remained active as
the companys president, devoting his
attention to affairs of finance, regula-
tions, and connecting company
The period 1972-1974 was another
significant period in the history of Plant
Telephone. In January, 1972, the com-
pany was the fifth telephone company
to qualify for a loan from the new Rural
Telephone Bank.
Plant Telephone had petitioned the
GPSC for additional toll facilities in the
Warwick exchange in March, 1973. On
September 22, 1975, the new toll line
was cut into service. This was also a sad
time for the company, as one of its
founders and a member of the board of
directors, Mrs. H. P. (Eliza) Gleaton,
died in April, 1975. She was a pioneer
in the telephone industry in Georgia,
whose contribution to the company was
sorely missed.
On January 20, 1978, the Lenox ex-
change was converted to 100 percent
one-party. In March, 1978, the president
and founder of Plant Telephone and
Power Company, Inc., James Perry
Gleaton, died after a long and difficult
illness. Betty A. Gleaton was named
president of the company on March 15,
1978. After the passing of Mr. Gleaton,
the company continued on much the
same basis as envisioned by him. New
board members, Danny E. Sterling mar-
ried to Beverly Gleaton Sterling, Robert
W. Hayes, and W. Mansfield Jennings
were elected on May 19,1978. On June
8, 1978, Howard W. Hall was elected
vice president.
The beginning of a new technical era
for Plant Telephone began in 1979. In
April, the first digital switch was ordered
for the Wcirwick exchange. The Nor-
thern Telecom DMS-10 switch arrived
in December and was placed into ser-
vice on February 19, 1980. This new
technology allowed Plant to offer rural
customers an assurance of quality ser-
vice and telephone features usually of-
fered in metropolitan areas. In April, the
Pinehurst exchange was converted to all
one-party service, and in May rates were
approved for one-party service in War-
wick. Prior to the installation of a digital
switch in Soperton, a conduit system was
installed in July to protect the large
cables running parallel to Third Street
and to offer easy accessibility for
maintenance and repair. Another
milestone was reached in 1980, when
the company was proud to have achiev-
ed Mr. Gleatons goal of 10,000 phones
by-1980. On October 4, 1980, a party
was held for all the employees to com-
memorate this momentous occasion.
On December 12,1980, property was
acquired and loan funds established for
the construction of a new headquarters
The company views 1981 and 1982
as the end of one era and the beginn-
ing of another in the telephone and
telecommunications industries. It was
clear that whatever the outcome of
various pieces of federal legislation and
FCC hearings, the telephone industry
was in an era of full-fledged competition
with other suppliers of equipment and
An all-out effort was launched to meet
the challenges of continued growth, de-
mand for more sophisticated services,
mounting complexities of new
technology and regulatory practices. In
August, 1982, Plant completed two
years and over 55 miles of major con-
struction to convert the Warwick ex-
change to all one-party as part of an
ongoing effort to convert all seven ex-
changes to one-party digital central of-
fices. The next few years were
monumental years for Plant. With the
first digital switch installed, preparations
for the next switch for the Soperton ex-
change were in the works. On May 3,
1982, the move to the new headquarters
building was accomplished.
By 1983 it was obvious that the
telephone industry was entering a period
of change. Plant Telephone found itself
in the unique situation of having its
headquarters located in a Southern Bell
territory. In addition to offering new ser-
vice to its own customers. Plant
Telephones location enabled the com-
pany to offer its services to anyone desir-
ing to take advantage of the deregulated
environment. For the job security of its
employees and to keep abreast of the
needs of the customers. Plant decided
to create a deregulated, affiliated
companyPlant Telecommunications
Sales & Services, Inc.
Construction of a major highway cor-
ridor in the Pearson and Willacoochee
exchanges inspired Plant to seek an
alternative which would avoid inevitable
and repeated cable cuts. To prevent long
distance outages caused by cable cuts
and to improve toll transmission. Plant
Telephone and Southern Bell coor-
dinated the design and installation of a
digital microwave system.
At the annual meeting of the
stockholders and the board of directors,
held on October 3, 1983, Danny E.
Sterling was voted to the position of vice
president and general manager.
Meanwhile, the job of upgrading all
the central offices continued. After per-
forming a feasibility study to determine
the most economical way to serve a great
portion of the customers in the outly-
ing areas of the Soperton exchange, it
was determined that a remote switch site
would be the most cost effective way to
provide new services. The Soperton ex-
change was converted to a DMS-10
switch on September 15, 1983. The
remote switch was cut over on
December 5, 1984. By the first part of
1984, a new switch had been ordered
for the Omega exchange. On September
14,1984, after five years and nearly 65
miles of major, in-house construction,
the Omega exchange was converted to
one-party, and the installation of a
digital switch was completed. After six
years and over 250 miles of construc-
tion, the major work in the Soperton ex-
change project was completed. In April,
1985, the Soperton exchange was con-
verted to all one-party. Another first for
Plant was the installation of 3.73 miles
of fiber optics cable in the Pinehurst
On September 30, 1985, Plant com-
pleted the installation of it fourth digital
switch in the Pearson exchange. This
Pearson switch was designed to include
a remote switch in Axson to serve the
rural customers through the host office
in Pearson.
Throughout the telephone system.
Plant Telephone has seven switching
sites and serves 6,489 customers in all
or part of nine counties in south
An ongoing responsibility of manage-
ment continues to be the welfare of the
companys most valuable asset, the 52
employees of the company, with a total
of 530 years of employment.
The management and key operations
people attend annual management con-
ferences which serve as a training
ground for improving skills, provides a
forum for an exchange of ideas, and
develops a sense of team participation.
Through the affiliation of Plant
Telecommunications Sales and Services,
Inc., the company enjoys the environ-
ment of regulated and non-regulated
Plant Telephones base is in rural
America which continues to grow in im-
portance as the bread basket of the
world. As technology has an even
greater impact on America, it creates an
urgent need for more effective com-
munications and information systems.
Plant is most fortunate to be firmly
established in the new world-wide expan-
sion of communications and information
Plant Telephone and
Power Company, Inc.
Tifton, Georgia1982.
Planters Telephone
Cooperative, Inc.
Planters Rural Telephone
Cooperative, Inc. has its headquarters
in Newington. Fred W. Hodges has serv-
ed as manager of the company for a
number of years. Fred, a very capable
and experienced businessman, heads up
both the Planters Rural Telephone
Cooperative and the Bulloch County
Telephone Co-op, a situation unique in
the state.
The incorporators of Planters Rural
Telephone Cooperative held their first
meeting at the Jenkins County Cour-
thouse on July 6,1950. In March, 1951,
the directors completed the purchase of
the Effingham Telephone Company,
which included two exchanges at Guyton
and Pineora. At the same time, negotia-
tions were proceeding for a loan from
the Rural Electrification Administration
(REA) telephone program to build a new
system to cover Screven County and to
expand the project to Effingham Coun-
ty as soon as possible.
At the annual meeting of members on
August 14,1952, it was announced that
REA funds would soon be available to
construct 100 miles of telephone line
and to install necessary switching equip-
ment. This expansion would eventually
serve approximately 1,000 members.
Most of the planned facilities were put
into service during 1955, and in July,
1956, a total of 699 subscribers were in
service in Screven and Effingham Coun-
ties with almost 200 more waiting for
The 1960s saw a steady growth and
improvement in the system as
underground cable was installed and
new switching equipment was put into
service in new central office buildings.
In 1962 a new headquarters building was
built in Newington, and a warehouse was
added several years later. At the end of
1966, 2,001 subscribers were being serv-
ed throughout the area.
A major step was taken to provide all
one-party service, and the last exchange
was upgraded in late 1976. At that time.
Planters was serving 3,613 subscribers.
In late 1986, there were 4,985
subscribers being served. Plans are to
have all digital switching in place
throughout the system to continue to
provide the best possible service at the
lowest possible rate. Helping make all
the accomplishments possible through
the years. Planters Telephone has been
fortunate to have had loyal and
dedicated employees who have given the
extra efforts necessary to get the job
done. The directors who have served
over the years have provided guidance
and belief in the goals of rural telephony,
and they are acknowledged as a critical
part of the successes of the cooperative.
Rural Telephone
Co-op, Inc.
A group of 15 men met on January
28, 1953, in Dudley for the purpose of
organizing and incorporating a
telephone cooperative to furnish
telephone service to citizens in portions
of Laurens, Dodge, Bleckley, Wilkinson,
and Wheeler Counties. The names and
addresses of the incorporators were:
Vernon Alligood, Dudley, Georgia
J. W. Bailey, Chester, Georgia
P. M. Burch, Chester, Georgia
J. E. Chambliss, Rentz, Georgia
W. B. English, Montrose, Georgia
J. B. Fordham, Jr., Dublin, Georgia
A. 0. Hadden, Rentz, Georgia
L. K. Keen, Cadwell, Georgia
Gordon A. Lord, Dudley, Georgia
James R. Malone, Dexter, Georgia
L. K. Smith, Cadwell, Georgia
Fred Webster, Chester, Georgia
Harris B. Williams, Danville, Georgia
C. J. Burch, Rentz, Georgia
Robert W. Williams, Jr.,
Jeffersonville, Georgia
Progressive Rural Telephone Co-op,
Inc. was the name given to the
cooperative, which suggests its intention
to provide progressive, modern
telephone service to the sparsely settl-
ed communities. Officers elected were
President C. J. Burch, Vice President
L. K. Keen, Treasurer W. B. English,
and Secretary J. B. Fordham, Jr.
Steps were taken to purchase or ob-
tain options on exchanges in Dexter,
Rentz, Cadwell, Chester, and Dudley.
The incorporators agreed to postpone
obtaining membership certificates and
right-of-way easements until the
cooperative secured options on at least
half of these exchanges.
By the second meeting of the incor-
porators in February, 1953, negotiation
for the purchase of the Dexter exchange
was pending, and a three month option
on the Chester exchange had been
granted by its owner, J. D. Jackson. L.
L. Maddox, owner of the Rentz and
Cadwell exchanges, required a $250 pay-
ment for an option on his properties.
This money was raised when ten of the
men agreed to loan the cooperative $25
Robert W. Williams, Jr. was appointed
coordinator for the cooperative to super-
vise its day-to-day activities. The board
also agreed to recommend to REA that
it be allowed to use the J. B. McCrary
Engineering Corporation to make a
commercial survey of the area the
cooperative intended to serve.
The Georgia Public Service Commis-
sion approved the purchase of the
Cadwell, Chester, and Rentz exchanges
in May, 1953. The Dexter exchange was
merged with the cooperatie that same
year when it was purchased from Cy
Dozier. Sometime later the Dudley ex-
change was acquired from a Mr.
In August, 1956, Leland E. Wells was
employed as manager of the company.
Jarrell J. Colter, chief maintenance
supervisor since 1957, became manager
in July, 1959. He remained manager un-
til he yielded to medical disability in
1977. C. A. Graham, president, manag-
ed the company until February 13,
1978, when Charles Edward Mullis
assumed the position of manager.
As of March, 1987, Progressive Rural
Telephone Co-op, Inc. serves 3,207
mainstations with digital equipment in
five exchanges. A sixth exchange will be
cut over in Cedar Grove in June, 1987.
Public Service
Public Service Telephone Company
was incorporated on March 30, 1954,
with the home office in Reynolds, Taylor
County, Georgia.
Up until that time, the five exchanges
were known as the Reynolds Telephone
Company, the Roberta Telephone Com-
pany, the Lizella Telephone Company,
the Butler Telephone Company and the
Culloden Telephone Company.
The Reynolds Telephone Company
was the first. The actual date it became
the property of the Bond family is not
known. All records and history of the
telephone company were lost in a cen-
tral office fire in Roberta in 1939. All
of the details are word of mouth.
The telephone company has several
old contracts with Southern Bell. The
earliest one is dated 1912, signed by H.
C. (Hiram) Bond, establishing the ex-
istence of the Reynolds Telephone Com-
pany. A contract dated 1923 confirms
the existence of the Roberta and Lizella
exchanges. The contract dated January,
1929, shows the addition of the Butler
exchange, and on September 23,1928,
the Culloden exchange was in existence.
The Roberta Telephone Company
originally belonged to H. A. (Howard)
Bond, brother to H. C. (Hiram) Bond
and was later purchased from him by
Hiram. Hiram worked at Peeler Hard-
ware Company in Macon before begin-
ning his telephone career. He was mar-
ried to Bessie Marie Moore and they had
three children, Wilhelmina, Mabel and
H. C., Jr.
Hiram worked at the Reynolds and
Roberta exchanges while Bessie was
raising the family in Macon. She realiz-
ed the opportunity to purchase the
Lizella exchange and literally saved
money in a small container at home in
order to make the purchase. After the
purchase, she would transport the con-
struction crew out to the job site in her
automobile. Meals were prepared for the
crew at home and taken to them by a
young member of the family.
In July, 1926, financing was obtain-
ed to rebuild the toll lines from Reynolds
to the Macon city limits, composed of
three circuits of 104 copper wire and
strung on cypress poles. Local lines were
grounded circuits of iron wire on
juniper telephone poles. The juniper
poles were cut by hand in a Talbot coun-
ty swamp, carted back to the work place
and there cleaned and prepared as
necessary to be used as telephone poles.
H. C. Bond Jr., began his telephone
career with his mother and father, mov-
ing from Macon to Reynolds in 1927.
Prior to that time he worked with the
railroad at the Terminal Station in
Macon. He married Mintie Theus of
Butler, and they had two children, Don
and Barbara.
In the late 1930s, most of the time was
consumed in changing the grounded
circuits to metallic circuits to eliminate
the noise generated by new electric co-
op lines (made possible by the advent
of the REA program).
During WWII, employees were hard
to come by and everyone had to pitch
in. Many hours were spent at the swit-
chboard by the Bond family. H. C. would
work all day on the line, come home at
the end of the day, eat supper, and go
directly back to the switchboard to work
all night. Mintie Bond tells of the time
she went to Roberta to work the swit-
chboard and did not return home for
several months.
H. C. Bond spent the 1950s obtain-
ing REA financing and completely
rebuilding the system. He replaced the
magneto equipment with dial equip-
ment, extended service into the rural
areas, and rebuilt the toll facilities.
After completing college and serving
in the U. S. Army Signal Corps, Don
Bond, son of H. C. and Mintie, return-
ed to work at the telephone company.
He married Beverlyn Evans of Atlanta,
and they had three children, Kelly, Jim
and Jean Marie.
1974(L-R) Jerry Stoddard, President
South Carolina Telephone Association,
Don Bond. President Georgia
Telephone Association.
On January 1, 1964, a severe ice
storm left 100 poles laying on the
ground. The transition to buried plant
began at that time. The advent of
microwave radio in the late 1960s allow-
ed the offering of 1 -i- dialing to the area.
In 1973, Don Bond became president
of the company. A short while later, H.
C. Bond passed away.
Public Service Telephone Company
acquired Utelwico, Inc. in 1978.
Utelwico, Inc., was a privately owned
telephone company which served
Geneva and Talbotton, a territory ad-
joining Public Service Telephone Com-
pany on the northwest comer. The com-
pany came about years ago when the
late C. W. Charlie Moore of Junction
City installed telephone service in
Walter McDonald, Alan Chapel,
"Mac" McWorter (sitting) H. C.
Bondcelebrating cutover to
Talbotton. The company was later pur-
chased by C. L. Battle. He had planned
to serve the community with electrici-
ty, water and ice. Mr. Battle organized
a corporation in November, 1926, and
named it the United Telephone Water
and Ice Company, which was subse-
quently shortened to Utelwico, Inc. (pro-
nounced You-tell-we-co). C. L. Battle
successfully operated the telephone and
ice business. Fire destroyed the ice
plant, and it was never rebuilt.
Mr. Cull Battle brought his son,
Tom, to Talbotton in February, 1930,
to help rebuild the telephone system
after it was almost totally destroyed by
an ice storm. Tom planned to return to
the grocery, mercantile and hardware
business owned by his father in Ellaville
after completing the service restoral;
however, he remained in Talbotton
where he still resides.
In 1956 the system was totally rebuilt
to offer dial service. In 1970, the open-
wire construction was replaced with
buried cable. Utelwico, Inc., was dissolv-
ed and merged into the Public Service
Telephone Company in late 1984.
In the 1980s, a CATV (cable televi-
sion) system was constructed in Butler,
Reynolds, and Roberta. The acquisition
of the Buena Vista Cablevision system
followed a short time later. The Flint
Cable TV, Inc. presently serves 1,000
The future of Public Service
Telephone Company looks very bright.
It is anticipated that the children of Don
and Beverlyn will return to the company
to be a part of its future.
Public Service Telephone
Company1954 conversion to
dial(l-R) Lev/is Andrews, plant
manager: Willie Gaultney, lineman;
Cecil Sanders, lineman.


Copy of the original contract
between Reynolds Telephone
Company and Southern Bell
dated November 11th. 1912,
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On November 11, 1912, an exchange
contract was signed between Southern Bell and
Reynolds Telephone Company (now Public
Service Telephone Company). A copy of that
contract, shown here, indicates that it was a
renewal of the same or simular contract dated
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Quincy Telephone
Quincy Telephone Company had its
beginnings in Quincy, Florida, in 1898
when two businessmen, A. T. Hearin
and R. K. Shaw, operating businesses
on opposite sides of the courthouse
square realized that a two-way com-
munication would save time and energy.
They purchased telephone equipment
and installed it in their offices. Im-
mediately their families discovered the
value of the telephone and telephones
were installed in their homes. Friends
and neighbors were soon added to the
system, making it one big party line.
To bring some order into the grow-
ing number of telephones, a small
switchboard was purchased and a
daytime operator was employed. Shaw
and Hearin received a franchise for the
system in 1899. Preferring to devote
their time to business interests other
than the telephone system, they began
negotiating the possibility of selling the
system to the Drew family of Madison,
Mitchell Nebraska Drew had already
established telephone exchanges in
Madison, Monticello, and Greenville. He
became the owner of the Quincy system
in April, 1899, running up these ex-
penses: $9.65 for travel, $5 for a con-
tract and $100 for the business itself.
By the end of May he had spent
$1,430.80 for further improvements to
the system. After Mr. Drews death in
1902, his widow Eula Vann Drew under-
took the management of the system, and
the business continued to grow. The
telephone directory used in 1903 listed
100 telephones in service. In the next
20 years the company expanded services
into Hosford and Chattahoochee in
Florida and to Amsterdam, Georgia.
Mitchell Nebraska Drew, Jr., assum-
ed management of the company in
1923. Drew, his wife Allene Mann Drew,
and J. Baxter Campbell, president, vice
president and treasurer and secretary,
respectively, were the original
subscribers to the articles of incorpora-
tion of Quincy Telephone Company on
December 8,1927. They also served as
its first board of directors.
At the time of incorporation the com-
pany proposed to construct lines from
Quincy via Mt. Pleasant and Gretna to
River Junction and Chattahoochee; from
Quincy to Greensboro and Hosford,
Florida, in Liberty County; and from
Quincy to Jamieson and to other points,
places, and farm houses. Total length
of all lines was to be approximately
1,045 miles. The annual salary of the
president was set at $3,000. The com-
panys offices were at 141/2 W.
Washington Street, an upstairs location
on the courthouse square in Quincy. An-
nual rent was $240, payable monthly.
The company was at this location for
more than 50 years.
In January, 1928, the company pur-
chased from M. N. Drew, Jr. all of the
telephone exchanges he owned and
operated in Quincy, Florida, under the
name Quincy Telephone Company, in
consideration for shares of common
This same year Drew sold the
Madison, Monticello, and Greenville ex-
changes to what is now Central
Telephone Company of Florida. During
the depression years the Amsterdam,
Hosford, and Chattahoochee exchanges
were terminated; however, the business
survived and was eventually able to ex-
pand again.
After the death of Mitchell N. Drew,
Jr. in 1938, his widow assumed the
management of the company. She serv-
ed in that capacity until her son Mitchell
N. Drew, III (known as Mitch Drew to
his many friends) became the manager
in 1958. Mitch remained in that posi-
tion until leaving the company in 1979
to pursue other business endeavors.
Allene Cantey and her son Mitch were
both active in civic affairs of the com-
munity, the Florida Telephone Associa-
tion, and the United States Independent
Telephone Association.
The growth of the company has been
steady over the years. In 1947 Quincy
became a toll center. The 2,000th
telephone was installed in October,
1952. Two months later a contract for
the construction of the new offices was
awarded for the sum of $86,700. In 1953
the company contracted to place a four
mile aerial cable line. Equipment for
inter-toll dialing between Quincy and
Tallahassee was ordered. The
Greensboro exchange was established.
The commercial office and central of-
fice moved into the new building in
December, 1953, and cutover of the new
dial system was made on December 27.
The president made the first long
distance call to Mr. P. J. Lucifer of
Stromberg-Carlson Credit Corporation,
Rochester, New York. Mr. Lucifer was
one of several prominent men who later
served on the Quincy board of directors.
Three of the six long distance trunks
between Quincy and Tallahassee were
converted to operator toll dialing in
mid-1955. Two more were later con-
verted. During that year the Commission
gave authority to install colored
telephones (at a monthly increase).
Following negotiations with St. Joseph
Telephone and Telegraph, a new area
approximating 35 square miles, was add-
ed to the Greensboro exchange area.
Cutover of digital switch in 1986. L to R: Lila Corbin,
Quincy Telephone, and Ted Carlson, Telephone &
Data Systems, Inc.
Conversion of the companys toll opera-
tions over Bell lines to Jacksonville to
operator toll dialing was accomplished
by the end of 1955. F. W. Kibilka, plant
superintendent, was commended for his
efforts in preparing the exchanges for
this improvement.
Central office additions of 150 lines
and 200 connectors were completed in
1956, bringing the total number of lines
to 1,150. An increase in toll revenues
beginning in mid-1956 was noted. This
was due to a seasonal vegetable
marketing business which was new to
the county. Tentative plans for increas-
ed toll facilities to meet this expected
need were made. A fifth position toll
board was purchased, with a January,
1957, installation planned.
The year 1957 saw a decrease in toll
revenue due to the change in the tobac-
co industry in the county. The effect it
would have on the economy was a great
concern to management. Toll revenues
continued to decline, and ways of sup-
plementing these losses were discussed.
Inquiries concerning radio telephone
service, still in its experimental stage,
were made. Early in 1958 Mitchell N.
Drew, III was authorized to make
whatever contributions were necessary
to attract new industry to the county to
combat the recession brought on by the
demise of the tobacco industry.
Plans for future financing were con-
sidered, largely for the rural areas. The
REA Rural Telephone bank seemed to
be the most desirable source of these
funds, and steps were taken to file an
application for a loan of an amount not
to exceed $1,570,000.
Purchase of the Attapulgus Exchange
was finalized in January, 1960. The At-
tapulgus Telephone and Telegraph
Company was purchased from Mrs. Mary
V. Quattlebaum of Donaldsonville,
Georgia. Approximately 170 telephones
were in service at the time. Toll service
for Attapulgus was handled by Southern
Bell. Quincys charter was amended to
read: and from Attapulgus, Georgia, to
various and divers other points, places
and farm houses in Decatur County,
Georgia; and the total length of all of
its lines shall be approximately 1,500
miles; Gadsden County, Florida, and
Liberty County, Florida, are the coun-
ties in this state through or into which
said lines are intended to be con-
structed, maintained and operated, and
Decatur County, Georgia, is the county
in Georgia through or into which said
lines are intended to be constructed,
maintained and operated.
Havana was converted to dial in
December, 1960. Quincy was made the
toll center for Havana. At the time there
were only two other independent com-
panies acting as toll centers for Southern
Bell exchanges.
In December, 1960, President Drew
reported that adoption of wide area
telephone service had been proposed by
Southern Bell. USITA was of the opi-
nion that Bell should first review cur-
rent toll commissions paid independent
companies before proposing wide area
telephone service; therefore, Quincy
Telephone did not accept Bells pro-
posal at that time.
Hearings were held in Atlanta in May,
1961, to consider EAS between At-
tapulgus and Bainbridge and establish
local service rates for Attapulgus at the
same time. This proposal was approv-
ed two months later.
An outside plant expansion project
was begun late in 1961, which includ-
ed larger cables leaving the central of-
fice, lateral runs from major cables into
residential neighborhoods, and special
attention to needs in rural areas.
Another loan from REA was initiated,
with proceeds to be used to construct
unattended dial offices at Attapulgus and
Application to the Georgia Public Ser-
vice Commission for a Certificate of Con-
venience and Necessity to provide toll
lines to serve the Attapulgus exchange
was approved in mid-1962. New dial
equipment in this exchange was cut in-
to service around that time; with an in-
crease of 76 stations.
Mitch Drew was appointed a director
of National REA Telephone Association
in the early 1960s. An increasing use of
toll made it necessary to add the ninth
toll position in mid-1966.
Lila Dolan was made assistant
manager of the accounting and commer-
cial departments in late 1966.
Late in 1968 the Florida Public Ser-
vice Commission issued its Rules and
Regulations for new Standards for
Telephone Service. New testing equip-
ment and traffic recording equipment
was required to meet the new standards.
The first quarterly reports to the Com-
mission would begin the following year.
By mid-1968, telephone answering ser-
vice had been added.
In 1969 it was anticipated that an ad-
ditional $500,000 in plant facilities
would be needed to comply with the
Commissions Rules and Regulations
and accommodate the increasing
demands for service. Project 70 was
initiated with the objective of limiting
service to one, two, and five-party.
Changing the Quincy base rate area was
also necessary to meet the Commissions
A change in settlement with Bell Com-
pany was made. The FCC established a
new set of rules and regulations as a
guide in settlement procedures.
Arrangements for Loan No. 2 from
Stromberg-Carlson were begun. The
$600,000 loan was recorded in March,
As the demand for toll service con-
tinued to grow, a tenth toll position was
added in mid-1969; the eleventh one was
added a year later.
A customer survey made in 1969
revealed that the company had not been
providing the high quality of service that
was its goal, and major maintenance and
renovation programs were launched to
bring improvements to every facet of
After ownership by the Drew family
almost since its beginning, the company
was acquired by the Winter Park
Telephone Company on January 29,
1970. M. N. Drew, III remained as presi-
dent; Russell P. Hulbert was chairman
of the board; Forrest R. McPerson,
treasurer and assistant secretary; and
Kenneth F. Peloquin, secretary and
assistant treasurer. Lila Dolan was
elected assistant secretary and assistant
A new base rate area for Quincy was
established on February 1,1970. Pro-
ject 70 was reclassified as one, two,
four, and five-party project. Tariffs for
one, two, and five-party service were ap-
proved in 1972, and upgrades in Florida
were completed in early 1973.
Plans for 1971-72-73 expansion re-
quired approximately $2,000,000. Ap-
plication for a loan of approximately
$1,500,000 was made with REA.
Additions and renovations to the
headquarters building amounting to
$60,000 were made in 1971. Employees
moved into the expanded offices at the
end of that year.
DDD conversion for all Florida ex-
changes was completed in mid-1972.
Plans for an upgrade program and DDD
conversion for Attapulgus were initiated;
GPSC failed to approve them at that
The company celebrated its 75th an-
niversary in 1973. Employees dressed
in the 1898 fashion on the designated
day and enjoyed a special lunch at the
company offices.
Employees were saddened by the
death of Mrs. Allene M. Drew Cantey in
February, 1973.
A second hearing was held with the
Georgia Commission and approval was
granted for one and four party service
for Attapulgus and DDD was approved.
Conversion to DDD for Attapulgus
customers was completed in July, 1974.
It was well-received by the 453 Georgia
Quincy had the honor of hosting the
USITA National Commercial Commit-
tee for a meeting in March, 1976. Lila
Dolan Corbin was serving as a member
of this committee.
It was felt that the commercial depart-
ment needed additional space in 1977,
and a large area in the Quincy Plaza
shopping center was leased for five years
for the business office to operate there.
The TEL MART opened there in
November of that year and remained
there until the lease expired.
At the companys request, the Bell
Quincy Telephone Co.,
Headquarters building.
Quincy. Florida.
Quincy Telephone Company-
Exchange Building,
Attapulgus, Georgia
company made a proposal that an alter-
nate toll route to the world be establish-
ed, and a study was made of all areas
of operations involved. After an exten-
sive review and evaluation, the Bell com-
pany was notified that the proposal
would not be accepted at that time. Fur-
ther consideration was to be given to the
matter, and it was to be incorporated
with an indepth engineering study in
The first step toward promoting
customer-owned equipment occurred at
the end of 1977 when customers were
granted a 70<t monthly credit if they
owned their extensions. Plans for a long
range switching system were initiated by
the Bell company in November. Presi-
dent Drew attended this meeting. Dur-
ing 1979 much assistance had been
given to Quincy by Winter Park person-
nel with the expertise to greatly improve
service in many areas. The merger of the
Winter Park Telephone Company with
the United Telephone System-Florida
Group was effective on June 21, 1979.
Mitchell N. Drew, III retired at the end
of 1979 to establish a financial manage-
ment consulting firm. Mitch Drew was
for many years an active leader in GTA
and represented Florida on the USITA
board. Lila Dolan Corbin, acting ad-
ministrative vice president and a 28 year
employee of the company, was named
manager of the company on December
1,1979. Lila is a supporting member of
In January, 1983, the Quincy
Telephone portion of Uniteds Florida
operation was sold to Telephone & Data
Systems, Inc. (TDS), with headquarters
in Chicago, Illinois.
Telephone Company
Ringgold Telephone Company,
located in Catoosa County, is one of the
older telephone companies still
operating in the state. James E. Evitt,
Sr. organized the company to serve the
vicinity of Ringgold. According to Judge
Emrey, There was considerable ridicule
of such a venture, inasmuch as one
could holler from one end of town to
the other. Mr. Evitt was for 26 years
clerk of the Superior Court and also ran
a drug store. His first office was located
in a vacant store building and later was
moved upstairs over the drug store.
Service was initiated with eight
telephones in 1912. Upon the death of
his father in 1948, Jim Evitt, Jr. con-
tinued family leadership of the company
by following his father as president of
the company. Jim, Jr. had worked in his
fathers drug store which he sold in
1953. At the time he took over the com-
pany, it had 250 telephones.
The company was incorporated in
March, 1958, with the following
stockholders and officers: James E.
Evitt, Jr., president; Judy T. Grady Head,
vice president; Mrs. Annie Evitt,
secretary-treasurer; Mrs. Jamie Clark,
assistant secretary-treasurer. The board
of directors was comprised of Jim Evitt,
Jr., Annie Evitt, and Judge Head.
By 1950 the company, boasting of
250 telephones, was one of the first
Georgia independents to switch from
manual to dial telephones. A short time
later a major expansion program
became necessary. The plant was in-
Jim Evitt, Sr., pictured center;
Ringgold Telephone Company.
(L-R) Jamie Clark, retired:
Ed Jenkins. U.S. Congressman;
and Roger Hester.
gram of major expansion was begun in
the mid-1970s to provide one-party ser-
vice to all subscribers. New electronic
common control switching equipment
was installed in the 935 exchange. Also
added to this exchange was equipment
to provide number identification for all
the customers. Over 200 miles of new
outside plant was launched in the same
time frame to provide more reliable ser-
vice. Sixty-seven percent of the plant was
placed underground.
Continued growth caused the demand
for additional space. In 1980 the
business office was moved to an attrac-
tive new building. This change facilitated
extension of customer service to include
a drive-in window and drive-up
Jim Evitt and Jim Callaham
in front of Ringgold business office.
With the coming of deregulation and
to keep pace with the industry, THE
PHONE LINE, the telephone company
store, was opened and also operated as
a Radio Shack authorized sales center.
Telephones, business communication
systems, communication equipment,
computers and accessories became a leg
of the telephone company.
Ringgold Telephone Company is pro-
udly nestled in a beautiful, thriving, and
progressive area of Georgia. The com-
pany has pledged to continue modem,
efficient service at reasonable rates.
Alice Evitt Bandy continues to provide
the stability and family ownership that
began 75 years ago.
creased by several times its size, and in
1959 the cpmpany relocated to a new
building at 306 East Nashville Street.
An event paramount in the companys
histpry took place in 1962 when toll-free
service was initiated between Ringgold,
Georgia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
To provide better telephone service to
subscribers in the Summit area, a new
exchange was established in 1966-the
937 exchange on Three Notch Road.
In 1973, after the death of Jim Evitt,
Jr., Alice Evitt Bandy, granddaughter of
the companys founder, became presi-
dent of the Ringgold Telephone
The warehouse and plant department
were relocated in a modern, new
building erected in 1974. Another pro-
Southern Bell
Telephone and
Telegraph Company
Southern Bell is, of course, a part of
that process that began when Alexander
Graham Bell invented the telephone.
Bells talking machine would be the im-
petus for this company which would
bring communication technology and
development, as well as outstanding cor-
porate citizenship, to the state of
Southern Bell Telephone and
Telegraph Company had, at the time of
its incorporation in 1879, 1,246
subscribers in 11 exchanges located in
a seven-state area. While quite large
compared to many other telephone com-
panies, it was yet a contender among
contenders in a competitive industry.
Theodore N. Vail, of the National Bell
Company, played a major role in
establishment of this Southern Bell
Company. The intense competition that
came mostly from the Western Union
Telegraph Company caused him to
undertake the task of quick expansion
by seeking agents with capital and an
active interest in establishing telephone
service in their area of the country.
In response to many long, handwritten
letters that Vail sent out, he received a
reply from James Merrill Ormes, a busi-
ness promoter. Ormes stated that he was
interested in a territory that would in-
clude Virginia, West Virginia, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia,
Florida, and Alabamathe largest ter-
ritory granted to any Bell agent. Before
the final commitment, Ormes traveled
over the territory and found the climate
to his liking.
After negotiations, with Vails consent,
Ormes became the Bell companys
general agent for virtually all of the ter-
ritory he had requested.
The first Southern Bell exchanges
were opened in the following locations:
April 1, 1879 .... Richmond, Virginia
May 2, 1879..........Atlanta, Georgia
July 1, 1879.........Norfolk, Virginia
August 1, 1879.... Augusta, Georgia
Under Ormes leadership, the com-
pany overcame a tangled web of con-
troversy and competition in which
Western Union continued their attempt
to invade the patent rights. (The
Western Union Company already had
well-established telegraph communica-
tions giving them an advantage in the
seven-state area). Ormes was instrumen-
tal in a three-way settlement which left
Bell in indisputable possession of the
17-year patent.
A central operating company ap-
peared to Ormes to be the best means
to seize the opportunity in a systematic
way. As a move in that direction, on
December 20, 1879, Southern Bell in-
corporated with an office in New York.
The company was set up with a three-
way agreement. Stock of one million
dollars was issued. Western Union re-
tained controlling interest, and all other
stock was issued to Ormes, who remain-
ed general superintendent of the com-
pany. At the same time, Anson Stager
of Chicago (a general in the Union Army
during the Civil War) became Southern
Bells first president.
Having launched the company, Ormes
sold his interest to the parent Bell com-
pany and moved on to organize other
new telephone ventures in the United
States and abroad.
The Southern Bell Telephone Com-
pany rapidly became ensconced in the
southern states. During the next few
years the company faced fewer com-
petitive pressures. However, profit was
elusive since growth was slow and the
company was obligated under the
previously mentioned three-way agree-
ment to make service available over the
Jim Callaham with Southern Bell commercial
employees from Augusta.
I i
1879 ^ 1886
seven-state area.
The gap between service and earnings
began to widen. Rates had been cut dur-
ing the brief period of competition with
Western Union, and when the company
tried to raise the rates under new con-
ditions, there were many complaints
while the company struggled to meet the
demands. The exchanges in Raleigh and
Danville had to be closed temporarily
because so many subscribers dropped
the service.
Then in 1889 Southern Bell, in a ma-
jor event in the companys history,
strung the first long distance lines be-
tween Atlanta and Fairburn, Georgia.
For the next ten years the company
had to contend with changes in owner-
ship and management, while technical
and financial distress, brought on by fire
and ice storms added to their troubles.
Meanwhile, the original ten-year
agreement Ormes had made with the
Bell company expired. In line with a
policy of obtaining voting control of
local operating companies, where possi-
ble, the National Company took over a
majority of the stock in exchange for a
permanent license to operate the area.
Southern Bell then truly became a part
of the Bell system. As part of the
changeover, John E. Hudson became,
for a while, the president of Southern
Bell while also serving as president of
American Bell. He was able to oversee
the operations from company head-
quarters. Hudson began to tackle the
problems that faced the company, such
as noise on the line and replacing ex-
citable and playful boy operators with
women, (male operators reappeared
three quarters of a century later with a
much warmer reception).
The grapple for rate cutting and the
effects of the nationwide financial panic
of 1893 made life difficult for Southern
Bell in the mid-1890s, but every effort
was made to continue with high quality
service and to expand and improve
wherever possible.
In 1896 the company started a pro-
gram of expansion. Their aim was to
provide better telephone service and to
be a larger and more divergent com-
pany. Thus a vigorous campaign was
launched, if other companies cut their
rates. Southern Bell would undercut
them, but their main weapon was ser-
vice. They expanded facilities, built new
exchanges, increased long distance
operations, and provided superior access
Emphasis was also placed on main-
taining good public relations. Bell suc-
cessfully attempted to buy out com-
petitors but did so only with the active
cooperation and support of responsible
public officials. By the end of 1905,
Southern Bell had managed to acquire
23 of the 52 exchanges started in direct
competition with the company.
By 1900 Southern Bell had 80 ex-
changes with 28,369 subscribers. Then
in 1904 a new development, the
mechanical amplifier, added dimension
to telephony. This and other im-
provements triggered phenomenal
growth for this company.
During the period that began on
December 7, 1941, until the end of
World War II in 1945, Southern Bell,
along with the nation, was challenged
by demands and shortages. Fortunate-
perienced in the next three decades.
1945opened first link of coaxial cable
transmission between Atlanta and
1946mobile telephone service
availableAtlanta and Miami
1948one millionth rural telephone
1955introduction of cross-bar toll
switch in Atlanta and several other
Southern Bell cities
1957direct distance dialing (DDD) in-
troduced in Southern Bell region
1960wide area telephone service
1960all number calling

Left: Jasper Dorsey, former head of
Southern Bells Georgia operations, casually
addresses his friends at a GTA meeting.
Above: Example of open wire toll line near
Griffin, Georgia.
ly the recovery was rapid as 1946
brought prosperity never before ex-
perienced in the region below the
Mason-Dixon line. Southern Bell met
the chcJlenge and went beyond to ex-
pand and explore and succeeded in
both. Continuous change makes up the
history of this company, as they solved
the mysteries of the potential use of the
telephone invention.
The following milestones mark the
phenomenal growth the company ex-
1965pushbutton dialing switching
system (ESS) central office in Miami
and Atlanta.
Meanwhile the company structure had
changed when in 1957 Southern Bell
divided into two operating companies:
SouthwestAlabama, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Mississippi, and
SoutheastGeorgia, Florida, North
Carolina, and South Carolina.
This move paved the way for the for-
mation of two companies 11 years later.
Other changes included Ben S. Gilmer
becoming president in 1956, replacing
Fred J. Turner as president of the Com-
pany. (Turners presidency which began
in 1951 was notable for the vast plant
improvement made in the South.)
These changes, along with many other
technological innovations, brought a
period of upgrading and advances that
would surpass anything known to the in-
dustry prior to that time.
New and better equipment, space
development, marketing, transistors,
computers, and divestiture would occupy
the next several years to come.
The first electronic switching system
(ESS) central offices were opened in
Miami and Atlanta in 1967.
In 1968 one company became two
when Southern Bell was officially split
into Southern Bell and South Central
Bell in a move that would prove to be
beneficial to Georgia.
Workmen dismantling open
wire line.
L. Edmond Rast became president of
Southern Bell in 1970. Under his leader-
ship, adapting to the new environment
of the industry, the nations first phone
center store was opened in Florida in
that same.
Inauguration of automatic intercept
system (AIS)talking computers to pro-
vide telephone number information took
place in 1973.
Southern Bells forwardness and
dedication to providing excellent
telephone service was rewarded in 1976
when the company reached the ten
millionth telephone mark.
Inauguration of loop maintenance
operation system occured in 1978.
As Southern Bell celebrated its 100th
anniversary in 1979, they also installed
the nations first commercial lightwave
The 1980s began a modernization
period, moving toward an all digital net-
work and straight-lining the segments.
By 1981 the new headquarters in
Atlanta was occupied. This attractive
building became a landmark in that city.
Also in 1981, John L. Clendenin,
former AT&T vice president, became
president of Southern Bell.
Federal regulations were relaxed,
when in 1969 Microwave Communica-
tion, Inc. (MCI) was allowed to provide
a microwave connection opening wide
the door to competition. The pro-
competition mood in Washington found
expression with a suit that would
precipitate the breakup of the Bell
system. With the handwriting on the
wall. Southern Bell began the prepara-
tion for the move in that direction.
The 1980s began a modernization
period, moving toward an all digital net-
work and straight-lining the segments.
In 1982 the inevitable consent decree
was signedseven regional holding
companies were formed to take over 22
majority owned Bell operating
companies (BOCS). Prepared for the in-
evitable, when the change came, it came
smoothly. On January 1,1984, the Bell
operating companies were separated
from AT&T. Southern Bell and South
Central, Bell became BellSouth but
would continue to operate as separate
BellSouth, as the southeast region
company would be named, was the
largest of the BOCS in assets and
revenue. Through Southern Bell and
South Central Bell, BellSouth serves 13
million customers in nine states.
Southern Bell is now headed by B.
Frank Skinner, who became its
presidents in 1982. Despite the disrup-
tions of change. Southern Bell continues
to provide a high level of service to the
public. Having come through a period
of uncertainty with courage and with
spirit intact, the company faces the
future with confidence, and BellSouth
expects to make it happen in the In-
formation Age.
St. Joseph
Telephone and
Telegraph Company
St. Joseph Telephone and Telegraph
Company operates in a territory which
includes both Florida and Georgia. The
company was established in 1924, with
only one facility, located in Port St. Joe,
Florida, serving 16 telephones. The
same year a new exchange was establish-
ed in Chattahoochee, Georgia, serving
subscribers located in Florida and
Georgia. One long distance toll circuit
was constructed to Port St. Joe with toll
calls placed from Port St. Joe and Chat-
tahoochee routed through the Bain-
bridge, Georgia, exchange over lines
owned by Southern Bell Telephone and
Telegraph Company.
Since that time, 13 other exchanges
(Apalachicola, Blountstown, Carrabella,
Wewahitchka, Altha, Bristol, Tyndall Air
Force Base, The Beaches, Eastpoint in-
cluding St. George Island, Hosford,
Alligator Point, and Wakulla Springs)
have been established for a total of 14
exchanges located in Bay, Calhoun,
Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liber-
ty, and Wakulla Counties.
In 1942 St. Joseph Telephone and
Telegraph Company began operating its
own toll center in Apalachicola for the
transmission of long distance telephone
calls and became a part of the national
intertoll dial network. In 1954 the toll
center was moved to Port St. Joe.
In March, 1983, a new digital swit-
ching system was cut over at the toll
center in Port St. Joe, and the follow-
ing month a similar switching system was
cut over in Blountstown. The company
expects to convert all of its exchanges
to digital by the early 1990s.
Mr. M. C. York at Desk.
Standard Telephone
standard Telephone Company traces
its beginnings to the early days of the
twentieth century when Marler C. York,
of Clarkesville, purchased two telephone
instruments, a coil of wire, and some in-
sulators. One of the telephones was in-
stalled in his residence and the other in
a general store operated by him and his
uncle. Wires were strung on poles and
trees to connect the two telephones, and
voice communication began. Soon Mr.
Yorks neighbors sought his permission
to purchase their own telephones and
attach them to his line.
As interest in the telephone grew, Mr.
York and eight businessmen took steps
to establish a company to provide
telephone service to the community. On
September 15, 1904, a corporate
charter was officially granted. A small
switchboard was purchased and install-
ed in the rear of the general store. Ex-
isting lines were connected to this new
central, and Standard Telephone
Company was in business with 28
telephones in service.
In the year 1905 the company pur-
chased a 100 line magneto switchboard
from Sumter Telephone Manufacturing
Company and activated a local tele-
phone system in nearby Cornelia. A
trunk line connecting the switchboards
in Clarkesville and Cornelia provided the
first extended area service (EAS) be-
tween exchanges in the state of Georgia.
Not much is known about the
development of the company over the
next several years. Mr. York gave up the
mercantile business to concentrate on
the telephone business and a watch and
clock repair service. By the expiration
of the original corporate charter in
1924, Mr. York had acquired all of the
stock of the corporation. By the end of
the 1930s, the system served 419
subscribers in Habersham County. Mr.
Yorks able management had brought
Standard Telephone Company several
distinctions in telephone circles, one of
which was the lowest schedule of rates
for local exchange service in the state.
The company also enjoyed a greater
number of subscribers per capita of
residents than any other company in the
An edition of the Atlanta newspaper
published around 1934 reporting Mr.
Yorks appearance before the Georgia
Public Service Commission to show
cause why rates should not be reduced
is on file in the companys archives. Dur-
ing his testimony, Mr. York bluntly
remarked, You couldnt give me an in-
crease in rates if you put it on the
Christmas tree. I like folks moren I like
money, and I think I made $425 last
year, but I get my pleasure out of life
in giving folks good service at a low
rate. Yorks rates were 50<t for farm
telephones and $2 for residence, and
$2.50 for business lines. He further
testified, My subscribers told me if I got
in a pickle with you fellers to let them
know. Theyre satisfied and I dont want
you fellows messing with my rates. I
dont want an increasewouldnt have
itand if you try to cut my rates youll
have a fight on your hands.
My company doesnt own an
automobile, a truck, a desk, an adding
machine, or any of that stuff. I use my
own car and when I want a truck I hire
one for twice the amount of gasoline I
use, and I save money. Im 62 years old
and have worked 45 years. I have been
in this business over 30 years and put
between $4,000 and $5,000 in it then.
The difference between that and what
the stuffs worth today is about what Ive
made out of it. I have it valued at
$25,522, but I dont have any idea thats
right, so dont take too much stock in
York was asked how it happened that
his loss of business was not as great as
other companies of similar size. I
reckon, he said, Ive fared a little bet-
ter than some folks. The only thing that
brought it about, I reckon, is good ser-
vice, hard work, and rates that are darn-
ed near nothing.
As York finished. Chairman Jud
Wilhoit told him: You can come down
now, Mr. York. Youre all right.
As York approached retirement age,
the telephone plant was in need of com-
plete replacement. Having no one to
take over the business, he decided to put
the telephone company on the market.
Meanwhile, H. M. Stewart, a native of
Alabama, who had begun his telephone
career in 1916 as a telephone operator
for Southern Bell was pursuing his
dream to own and operate a small
telephone company. In addition to
various assignments with Southern Bell,
Mr. Stewart had been a sales represen-
tative and district sales manager with
Kellogg Switchboard and Supply Com-
pany and served as executive secretary-
manager of the Texas Telephone
Association. While employed as
secretary of the Pennsylvania Telephone
Association, he learned that the proper-
ties of Standard Telephone Company in
northeast Georgia were available.
He and Mr. York came to terms on
the purchase, and Mr. Stewart assum-
ed ownership on July 1,1939. The size
and condition of the plant, coupled with
its limited earning capacity and available
credit, made it necessary for Mr. Stewart
to continue his employment in Penn-
sylvania until conditions improved.
When commercial financing was vir-
tually non-existent, Mr. Stewarts first
objective was the complete rehabilitation
and enlargement of the outside plant.
Following the severe depression im-
provement had to be done on a piece-
meal basis out of cash flow, savings from
his salary, and a short-term loan from
a local bank.
By early 1943 most of Clarkesvilles
outside plant was new and capable of
rendering top quality service. About this
time the war effort had caused a shor-
tage of material and manpower which
brought construction of commercial
telephone plants to a standstill and
lasted for some five years. In 1944, Mr.
Cutover to Common Battery at
Cornelia1949. Operators are May
Gibby and Octie Slaton. Also
pictured are Mr. and Mrs. H. M.
Stewart, Sr.
Stewart accepted a lucrative job offer
with Telephone Services, Inc. and
moved to Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
This job change plus a restricted con-
struction and rehabilitation program
enabled him to begin moving toward
enlarging Standards base of operation.
He successfully negotiated with R. C.
Meaders to purchase the Dahlonega
Telephone Company and assumed con-
trol January 1, 1945. Furthermore, he
had mentally staked out the surrounding
counties of Dawson, Towns, Union, and
White believing that 2,500 to 3,000
telephones would support a minimal
operations base. He next moved to
establish a local telephone exchange in
Ice Storm1950. Another
devastating ice storm visits
North Georgia.
Hiawassee which had been without ser-
vice since a small system operating there
had been closed and abandoned. Using
the old Sumter switchboard removed
from Cornelia and telephone in-
struments still in place in homes and
business establishments of the communi-
ty, service was activated for 28
subscribers in August, 1945.
The economic situation in northeast
Georgia was improving and demand for
more and better telephone service was
on the rise. The revenue base was also
moving towards better levels. Since 1939
telephones in service in the Cornelia and
Clarkesville exchanges had grown by 65
percent, gross annucJ revenue was
up by 143 percent, and investment in
plant and facilities had multiplied by 2Y4
times. This growth had been temporarily
financed by short-term bank loans.
Mr. Stewcirt decided to move to
Habersham County to devote all his time
and resources to the company. An-
ticipating the move, he sought financ-
ing to further improve and expand the
system. After considerable effort, a long-
term loan was obtained from the
Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
Mr. Stewart arrived in Habersham Coun-
ty September 1,1945. By November of
that year he added the Cleveland ex-
change, purchased from Ellis C. Turner,
to the system. At the close of 1945,

standard Telephone was serving a total
of 883 telephones in five exchanges.
In 1946 the company issued the first
telephone directory circulated north of
Atlanta that contained a classified sec-
tion (yellow pages). At that time the
Atlanta book contained the only yellow
pages north of Macon. Although ex-
periencing a substantial increase in local
service revenue from the growing
number of instruments in place and in-
creased toll receipts, Standard
Telephones 1946 operating income
statement showed a deficit. Fortunate-
ly, despite a rule nisi issued against all
telephone companies in Georgia to pre-
sent their plans and problems to the
Georgia Public Service Commission, a
nominal increase in local exchange rates
was approved. This allowed the con-
tinued upgrade of outside plant facilities,
updating equipment to central energy
operation, and locating permanent
quarters for the operation of the
As of March 1, 1949, Blairsville was
introduced to its first local telephone
service, and by the end of the year 145
telephones were in operation. It was also
during this year that the U. S. Congress
amended the Rural Electrification Act
to include telephone companies. This
would ultimately provide much needed
capital to struggling companies such as
Standard Telephone.
Meantime, financing by the Strom-
berg-Carlson Corporation, along with in-
creased exchange service rates, enabled
Standard to keep up with growth, convert
to dial operation, and replace open wire
outside plant with new line cable.
The 1950s saw the addition of four
exchanges to the systemDemorest,
Helen, Dawsonville, and Young Harris.
Approval in 1954 of an REA loan mark-
ed the end of worries about capital
resources for future development. The
pattern of growth and expansion had
been formed, and by the close of the
decade Standard had over 5,000 sta-
tions, and all nine outlyling central of-
fices had been converted to dial opera-
tion. Mr. Stewart was named a director
of the United States Independent
Telephone Association and served in
that capacity for the next 12 years.
The activation of local telephone ser-
vice in Batesville and Tallulah Falls in
Habersham County and Suches in
Union County rounded out the ex-
changes to 13. By the mid-1960s, the
company was providing dependable ser-
vice to 10,000 subscribers in one of the
most scenic and promising geographical
areas in the state. In 1969 Standard
became the second telephone company
in the United States to install and fur-
nish time, temperature, and weather
forecasting service around the clock.
Direct distance dialing was inaugurated
throughout Standards territory in 1971,
and the company passed the 20,000 sta-
tion mark the same year.
Always on the forefront of tech-
nological advances. Standard installed
electronic switching equipment in Cor-
nelia the following year taking its first
step toward computerized switching. Ad-
vances in central office switching also
made it feasible to discontinue the swit-
ching functions in Demorest and
Tallulah Falls and reroute the customers
through Cornelia and Clarkesville.
Developed by a real estate firm in Atlan-
ta as a residential and recreational com-
munity, Big Canoe was added to the
system in 1977. In that same year, the
30,000 station mark was reached. In
1977 Mr. Stewart made the decision to
step aside and become chairman
emeritus and consultant. H. M. Stewart,
Jr. was moved up from president and
treasurer to chairman of the board
Celebraton of 5,000th station October 24, 1958. Left to right: Mrs. Charles Graves, Mayor, City of Clarkesville, H. M. Stewart, President Standard Telephone Company, Mrs. H. M. Stewart. Secretary.
Standard Telephone Company and Hon. Ben T. Wiggins, Commissioner, Georgia Public Service Commission.
and chief executive officer. Dean Swan-
son was elected president, following
which he resigned as a member of the
board of directors. Kay Swanson was
named to the vacancy created by Deans
resignation and was subsequently
elected treasurer and assistant secretary.
Carolyn Stewart became secretary and
assistant treasurer.
The following year another major step
was taken when the toll operating center
was installed and cut over. Accompany-
ing this move was the addition of
thousands of circuit miles to Standards
toll network and installation of its own
toll carrier terminals.
The period from 1980 to present has
been one of growth and change for the
company. Six exchanges are now being
served by the latest in digital switching
machines. The companys toll transmis-
sion facilities were recently upgraded to
all digital utilizing 77 route miles of fiber
optic cable. Standard Telephone has
successfully adjusted to the many
changes precipitated by deregulation of
the telecommunications industry. STC
Systems and Telecom Products, Inc. are
subsidiaries handling the sales and ser-
vicing of telephone equipment for
homes and businesses. Another sub-
sidiary, Teledata, provides the com-
panys computer needs. Standards
history of excellence in service to the
citizens of northeast Georgia will con-
tinue to be its top priority as it moves
into the twenty-first century.
The Standard Telephone Company
Museum located at 224 North Main
Street, Cornelia, Georgia, is another way
Standard fulfills its desire to be a part-
ner in the development of northeast
Georgia by preserving a part of the past
for future generations. Since its open-
ing in 1978, many visitors have enjoyed
reminiscing about the early days of
telephony as they look at old-timey
switchboards, outdated telephone in-
struments, paystations, telephone direc-
tories, insulators, tools of the industry,
and outdated office furnishings.
Most of the information contained in
this narrative about Standard Telephone
Company was condensed from A Vivid
and Compelling Dream, a book written
by H. M. Stewart, Sr. on the occasion
of the companys 80th birthday in 1984.
Above: DedicationHeadquarters
Building1978. Mr. and Mrs. H. M.
Stewart, Sr., Bill Hall, Dean Swanson, H.
M. Stewart, Jr., Clara Davis, Ethel
Arrendale, Roy Palmer, Julie Barron. B. J.
Barron. Jobie Ricketson, David Power.
Above Left: 1978Dedication of
headquarters building to Mr. and Mrs.
H. M. Stewart, Sr.
Left: ITPA Luncheon1983. STC officials
attended meeting in Boston where H. M.
Stewart, Sr. was named to the national
Hall of Fame. (L to R) Stewart, Jr.. Elaine
Holbrooks, Dean Swanson, Joye Adams,
Fred Holbrooks, Carolyn Stewart, Jack
Adams. Kay Swanson. H. M. Stewart, Sr.,
Doris Stephens.
Below: Students touring museum learn
about the history of telephony. A three-
way hookup allows hands-on use of
switchboard to make connections for
talking between two old wooden, wall
Telephone Company
Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.
So it began on June 2,1875, the instru-
ment which today ties man to the far-
thest reaches of civilization. Statesboro
became a chartered community ten
years later, but it was not until over 20
years later that the telephone was in-
troduced in Bulloch County.
A few years after the Bell patents had
expired and interest throughout the
country manifested in the newly develop-
ing art of communication, there were
areas that were still undeveloped by the
Bell interests. Mr. James L. Mathews
moved to Statesboro as an agent and
telegraph operator for the Central of
Georgia Railroad Company sometime in
the late 1890s. His interest in
establishing such service was, no doubt,
encouraged by his background in the
telegraph business.
Together with James A. Brannen,
John W. Olliff, and William S.
Preetorius, J. L. Mathews built the first
telephone exchange in Statesboro.
While the petition for the company was
not filed until February 6,1901, it seems
that 35 original customers had actually
started service prior to that date. On
April 29, 1901, the legal procedure
relating to the petition for the charter
was completed and on that date the
charter was granted. It provided for the
existence of the company for 20 years.
Its capital stock would be $2,500 at $50
per share and the stock could be in-
creased not to exceed $5,000. James
A. Brannen was named president of the
company, and William S. Preetorius
became manager. By the time the
charter was granted, the new company
was already branching out over Bulloch
By the end of the first year of its
operation, the Statesboro Telephone
Company owned more than 70 miles of
lines and an exchange in Statesboro of
about 50 subscribers. The towns and
stations on the Central of Georgia
Railroad including Register, Parrish,
Pulaski, Metter, Clito, and Dover, as well
as Stilson, Brooklet, Woodbum and
Blitchton were all connected by phone
lines. At Blitch, connections were com-
plete to Sylvania, and at Cuyler connec-
tions with Savannah were complete.
On September 19, 1902, the
Statesboro News announced that the
Statesboro Telephone Company and the
Georgia Telephone Company of Savan-
nah were planning to install a copper
metallic circuit between here and Savan-
nah, thus giving people of Bulloch
County first-class service. We unders-
tand that the line will cost about
$10,000. On March 13, 1903, it was
announced that the line was completed
from Savannah to a point within two or
three miles of Statesboro.
On January 3, 1905, the Statesboro
Telephone Company announced its of-
ficers and directors elected in December,
1904. They were J. A. Brannen, presi-
dent; J. L. Mathews, secretary; J. A.
Brannen, director; J. W. Olliff, director
and W. S. Preetorius, director. It was
reported that the company had about
100 subscribers as of the first of the year.
With the telephone company growing
and increasing its need for expansion of
service, the officers and directors filed
a petition to have the companys charter
amended to give it the privilege of in-
creasing its capital stock from time to
time, not to exceed $25,000. The peti-
tion was granted, and the charter was
amended on October 24, 1905.
In 1908, the company officials an-
nounced that the local telephone ex-
change would move into new quarters
on South Main since the space presently
occupied had been entirely outgrown.
Five years later the telephone company
moved across the street to a two story
building which the company had pur-
chased not long before. New equipment
was installed, furnishing common bat-
tery service for a small additional cost.
Tbe magneto service was improved with
an automatic disconnect signal added.
The cost of the new equipment was
estimated at $10,000. C. B. Mathews,
a stockholder since 1909 and brother
of J. L. Mathews, was named assistant
J. A. Brannen, one of the companys
founders and its first president, died
January 6,1923. J. L. Mathews succeed-
ed him as president.
In 1940, Charlie Joe Mathews, son of
C. B. Mathews, graduated from Georgia
Institute of Technology in Atlanta and
became associated with the company.
He had grown up in the company hav-
ing worked there during summers before
and while in college. Except for the
years of World War II1941-46, he has
continually been involved with the
Statesboro Telephone Company all of
his adult life. Following the death of C.
B. Mathews in 1946, Charlie Joe
Mathews was named general manager
and elected to the board of directors.
During the following years, the
Statesboro Telephone Company grew
with the community, constantly striving
to keep abreast of its needs and
demands for telephone service. It was
in March, 1953, that the owners of the
company began making plans to convert
their telephone exchange system to the
dial system. A building to house the dial
equipment was erected on East Grady
Street and the conversion was com-
pleted and celebrated at an open house
on October 31, 1954.
J. L. (Mr. Jim) Mathews had been
with Statesboro Telephone for 55 years
and was 83 years old when he was nam-
ed chairman of the board on December
30,1954. Charlie Joe Mathews succeed-
ed him as president, Mrs. C. B. Mathews
was elected vice president, D. B.
Franklin was named plant manager, and
Mrs. Bernice Woodcock was put in
charge of the traffic department. A year
later, James Bland and Henry Blitch
were added to the board of directors.
Two years later, in November, 1958,
C. J. Mathews was elected president of
the Georgia Telephone Association. The
next year the company distributed its
largest telephone directory containing
more than 2,500 listings.
Mr. Jim died in his 87th year on
September 8, 1959. He was a great
telephone man who had nurtured the
company since its inception.
The 1960s was an eventful period for
the company. D. B. Franklin was elected
to the board of directors at the 1961 an-
nual meeting. The microwave system in-
augurated in 1963 is part of Southern
Bells system which serves the local area
and state through the Statesboro
Telephone Company.
In 1965 Eddie Bibisi was named to
the board of directors and elected vice
president in charge of plant. C. J.
Mathews predicted that by the spring of
1968 the company would be serving
more than 6,800 stations and providing
operator service for approximately 3,000
more, would enlarge the traffic depart-
ment, and would convert to automatic
subscriber billing with further office ex-
pansion. Pushbutton dialing was in-
troduced in 1968, and the following year
direct distance dialing was added.
Between 1972 and 1985, Statesboro
continued to grow and so did the
Statesboro Telephone Company. In
1972 plans were begun to add a central
office in the Statesboro area, and two
years later a 2,000 line Stromberg-
Carlson ESC office, using crossreed
technology, was cut into service. This
office was to serve an area on the south
side of Statesboro and would carry the
office code of 681. An additional office
code of 489 was added to the Statesboro
exchange and the number of lines was
increased. The Statesboro ESC office
(office code 681) grew to 4,500 lines with
1,500 additional lines available. A se-
cond channel was installed on the
mobile telephone system and paging was
added. The company also standardized
on digital PBXs for all customers requir-
ing this type of service. Customer accep-
tance of this new service was very good.
Another member of the Mathews fami-
ly was added to the board of directors
in 1978. Harry S. Mathews, son of
Charlie Joe Mathews, had worked at the
company during summer vacations since
he was 15 years old and began working
full-time after graduating from Georgia
Southern. In addition to being elected
to the board, he was also named vice
president. Eddie Bibisi was re-elected
vice president of plant, D. B. Franklin
remained secretary, and Charlie Joe
Mathews continued as president.
At the 1982 stockholders meeting, C.
R. Pound was elected to the board of
directors. During this year, plans were
begun to replace the Stromberg-Carlson
X-Y office in the 764 and 489 ex-
changes. In 1983, the Statesboro
Telephone Company entered into
deregulated business by selling
telephones for the first time. This came
as a result of the deregulating of station
equipment by the Federal Communica-
tions Commission. The company also
continued to lease telephones, but all
new service was leased on a deregulated
At the annual meeting in 1983, Joe
E. Mathews, son of C. J. Mathews, was
elected to the board of directors and was
made vice president of commerical
operations. Harry S. Mathews was
elected president and C. J. Mathews was
elected chairman of the board. The
other officers remained the same.
In February, 1984, the bid placed by
Northern Telecom for the new office was
accepted and work was begun on the
outside plant and in the central office.
At the stockholders meeting in
December, Charlie B. Mathews, son of
C. J. Mathews, was elected to the board
of directors and was made vice president
of data processing. Both Joe and Charlie
had worked at the company periodical-
ly throughout the years since high
school. Harry, Joe, and Charlie repre-
sent the third generation of the Mathews
family involved in the operation of
Statesboro Telephone Company.
Charlie Joes name frequently appears
in these pages. It is appropriate in that
he is a true Georgia telephone pioneer
and GTA leader. Also he and his family
have provided an idealistic example of
the closely held family telephone
On August 24, 1985, a new DMS
100/200 was cut into service in the
764/489 exchanges. At the same time,
all EAS routes were converted to T-
carrier which greatly increased their
quality- and reliability. The new digital
office made custom calling features, such
as call forwarding, call waiting, three-way
calling and speed dialing available to
subscribers in the 764/489 exchanges.
Along with the increase in reliability and
speed of operation, the digital office of-
fered the customers of the Statesboro
Telephone Company O-i- dialing and
direct dialing of international calls for
the first time. Statesboro Telephone
Companys future looks bright because
the company has kept pace with new
technology and has benefited from a
strong history.
Telephone Company
In the early 1900s communication by
telephone began in the Trenton area
with lines extending to Lookout Moun-
tain and Sand Mountain. The company,
known as Simpson Telephone Com-
pany, was owned and operated by
William Simpson and served 15
customers. Originally the switchboard
resembled an old roll-top desk with bells
that each had a different tone to iden-
tify each customer. The telephone lines
were all open wire on locust poles. After
the death of William Simpson, his wife,
Ada, continued to operate the company
from an old store building until the com-
pany was acquired by J. W. Gray. Mr.
Gray moved the facilities to a combina-
tion service station/grocery store and
renamed the business Trenton
Telephone Company. He operated the
company until 1950, expanding the
original 15 to 60 customers.
Trenton Telephone Company was
purchased by William R. Tatum in 1950.
By 1953 the number of customers had
doubled. The service rates were $1 per
month when the customer owned his
telephone or $2 per month if the com-
pany provided the telephone. Mr. Tatum
incorporated with Jules A. Case and
Henry Gross on April 17,1953. To in-
crease equity and help them obtain an
REA loan the owners installed a com-
mon battery board. In 1955 Stromberg-
Carlson XY dial equipment was install-
ed; soon after this service was extend-
ed to the Rising Fawn and West Brow
Communities of Dade County.
Looking back, we can see that the
60s and early 70s brought many
changes within the company. In 1962
the company moved to the new building
located at the comer of First Street and
Case Avenue in Trenton. The central of-
fice was doubled in size, and the com-
pany began major outside plant con-
stmction with borrowed REA funds.
These funds would be carried through
to the 1980s. In March, 1964, William
R. Tatum and Jules Case purchased Mr.
Grosss stock in the company. During
that time the subscribers increased from
1,225 in 1962 to 2,900 in 1975. The
year 1975 brought O-l- dialing to the
Trenton area, making Trenton
Telephone Company one of the first in
Georgia to install this type equipment.
Trenton Telephone has stayed abreast
of new technology being developed in
the telecommunication field. New Years
Day of 1981 the West Brow exchange
was switched to a Northern Telecom
DMS-10 digital switching system. In
December, 1985, the Rising Fawn ex-
change was cut over to a Northern
Telecom DMS-10. Completing the
modernization, Trenton, the largest ex-
change, was replaced with a Northern
Telecom DMS-100 in the fall of 1986.
In this time of inflation and rising
prices, the company takes great pride
in having had only two local service rate
increases since incorporation in 1953.
Trenton Telephone Company serves
over 4,000 customers and will continue
striving to give its customers the best
service at the lowest possible rates.
Modern office facility
at Trenton, Georgia.
Walker County
Telephone Company
The first recorded interest in the need
for telephone service in La Fayette was
reported in the September 26, 1901,
issue of the Walker County Messenger
when a group of local businessmen
discussed the need for a telephone line
between the town square and the
railroad depot, a distance of less than
half a mile. This line would provide a
much-needed convenience for the mer-
chants to check the daily train
schedules, as most of their supplies ar-
rived by rail. Even though the estimated
cost of constructing this line was only
$30, the project was dropped when on-
ly $20 could be raised.
The La Fayette City Council, reacting
to the community interest in telephone
service and the anticipation of a
telephone system, set forth and approv-
ed a franchise for the use of the citys
streets on October 7,1901. On February
13,-1902, a representative from the
American Telephone Company in Rome
visited La Fayette to make arrangements
to provide the city with a long distance
connection. This service was establish-
ed by placing a magneto telephone in
the Fariss Drug Store and connected
directly to a toll circuit from Rome to
Chattanooga, Tennessee. This service
was used until the local telephone
system was established the following
As local interest in obtaining
telephone seivice continued to mount,
three La Fayette businessmen, G. B.
Tatum, J. L. Rowland, and E. W. Stur-
divant, filed a petition on March 3,1903,
with the state for a charter to organize
the Walker County Telephone Com-
pany. The capital stock was placed at
$600 with the right to increase at any
time to $2,000. The 1903 issues of the
Walker County Messenger revealed the
economic conditions in La Fayette at the
time the telephone company was
organizedthe local housewife could
purchase 20 pounds of sugar for $1 and
100 pounds of flour for $1.75; her Sun-
day dress sold for $3.98; the farmer
could buy his sons overalls for 25 <1 and
a good saddle with bridle for $2.99; and
cotton seed was selling for 75<t a bushel.
By mid-summer of 1903 the local
residents became excited as they observ-
ed tbe stockpile of poles, crossarms, and
wire being assembled. The company was
hiring men and boys for the construc-
tion of the lines. The pay for these hands
was from 50<t to $1.25 per dayin 1903
a days labor was 10 to 12 hours.
Holes were dug with long handle
spoon and shovels and a rock bar. The
Derelle Burney
poles were set by hand using pike poles,
wood jennys, and wooden mules.
Mules and wagons were used in string-
ing open wire. This method of setting
poles didnt change much over the next
35 years.
The materials used for construction
were untreated pine, class 9 to 7 poles,
16 to 25 feet in length, costing 50<t to
$2 each; oak brackets, costing $1.25 per
hundred; no. 40 and 60 penny nails,
costing 3<1 per pound; and no. 9 pony
insulators, costing 2<t: each. The cost of
the above materials (less poles) to build
one mile of grounded circuit (one con-
ductor) using no. 14 BB iron wire was
While the outside plant was under
construction, a one position Kellogg
magneto switchboard was being install-
ed upstairs in a building located on the
east side of the town square at the cor-
ner of Villanow Street. The rent paid for
the first central office was $4 per
Walter Burney 18901946
President Walker County
Telephone Company
The exact date and location of the first
telephone installation in La Fayette is
not known. However, information from
the directors minutes lead us to believe
that it was installed on December 1,
1903, at the Nash Cash Grocery.
The first telephones installed were a
magneto wall-type with carbon mica pro-
tector located at the top of the phone.
This instrument had a five or six bar
generator and used two no. 6 dry cell
batteries. The early wall type magneto
telephones used uninsulated wire inside
the phone, so grooves were cut in the
back and melted paraffin poured over
the bare wires. The bare wire going to
the transmitter was conducted through
the door hinge. The first telephones
worked over grounded circuits using one
conductor, and the earth ground pro-
vided the other conductor. It was com-
mon practice in those days for a
subscriber who was having poor
transmission to go outside and pour
water on the ground wire.
Fire destroys
La Fayette exchange1940.

Since insulated drop wire was not yet
available, the bare iron wire was attach-
ed to the house on a wooden bracket
with insulator. The fused protector was
located in the house, usually directly
above the telephone. By the end of
1903, there were 39 telephones install-
ed in La Fayette.
On September 3,1904, Walker Coun-
ty Telephone Company signed a con-
tract with Southern Bell Telephone &
Telegraph Company to connect long
distance lines to the local switchboard.
On September 24, 1904, the City of
Menlo in Chattooga County granted a
franchise to the Walker County
Telephone Company to provide
telephone service in their city. The com-
pany stockholders also voted to extend
service into Lyerly, also in Chattooga
County, and to Ringgold, in Catoosa
County. The construction of nine miles
of four grounded circuits from La
Fayette to Menlo and Lyerly was com-
pleted by 17 workmen in 90 working
days. This is believed to be the first local
telephone line in Georgia to be built by
an independent telephone company that
connected three communities together.
These circuits provided service to 23
new subscribers along the route and 75
in or near Menlo and Lyerly.
With these new subscribers in Chat-
tooga County and 52 subscribers in La
Burney Family observing
operators1940. (L-R)
Grace. James. Ed, and
Walter Burney, operators:
Bridge Maffitt and Fannie
Mae Stanfield.
Burney Family1951,
(standing) Deretle (Burney)
Smith, Grace Burney, Ed
and James Burney (seated)
Wilma and Cathrine Burney.
Fayette, it wasnt long before the original
one position magneto switchboard was
near capacity. A new magneto swit-
chboard and distribution frame were
purchased from Kellogg Switchboard
and Supply Company for $352 and in-
stalled May 4, 1907. It was during this
expansion that A. S. Sparks became the
new general manager at a monthly salary
of $50.
As telephone service became popular,
rural communities began to organize
and build lines in their community and
then build into La Fayette to connect
to central for extended service. Con-
nections of this type were called farmers
lines, and the owners paid the telephone
company 50<t per month for connection.
As Walker County Telephone Company
expanded, they began to purchase the
farmer owned lines. The West Ar-
muchee line, which also served Dicks
Ridge and Green Bush, was purchased
from Mr. Keown in October, 1908, for
$550. Over the next ten years the com-
pany continued to buy up these rural
lines. Some of the larger lines were the
Fcirmers Rural Telephone Company in
the Cane Creek area and the Wright
Telephone Company in the Center Post
area which was purchased in 1917 for
$180. The Wright Telephone Company
consisted of four miles of line and serv-
ed eight telephones.
In 1909, the companys officers
elected to lease the company operations,
thereby relieving them from the day-to-
day management duties. The first lessee
was W. J. Jennings, who operated the
company until 1921. J. C. Keown then
leased the company until 1925.
In 1910 the company decided to sell
the lines that served the Menlo and
Lyerly communities in Chattooga Coun-
ty and invest the money in the first cable
to be placed in La Fayette. At this time
the companys physical assets were listed
at $17,172 in plant facilities and $200
for a horse and buggy. The local service
rates were $2.25 per month for business
and $1.75 for residence. The company
had increased the rate of connect a rural
line to central from 50<t per month
per line to 25<t per month per
The company payroll consisted of a
manager paid $50 per month, a
secretary-treasurer paid $25 per month,
a bookkeeper making $12.50 per
month, and a part-time lineman paid $1
per day when he worked. There was no
record of the operators or their salary.
It was also during 1910 that new lines
were built into the Rock Spring and
Catlett communities.
By 1919, a new magneto switchboard
was purchased and relocated to the W.
E. Withers building, and the local ser-
vice rates were increased to $3 for
business and $2 for residence. The
following year the 25 pair cable, which
was placed in La Fayette in 1910, was
replaced with a 50 pair, and the 25 pair
was relocated to North Main Street.
The company operation had been
leased out since 1909, and the owners
decided it should resume the manage-
ment in 1925. P. D. Fortune was elected
president and general manager at a
salary of $50 per month. The following
year A. R. Fortune was elected president
to replace his deceased father. Walter
C. Burney was made general manager
in 1926.
On September 19, 1927, Walter C.
Burney became the major stockholder
and was elected president and general
manager, a position he held until his
death in 1946. At that time the com-
panys assets were:
Plant and equipment $15,573.75
Motor truck 388.29
Office fixtures 310.20
Cash 35.03
Accounts receivable 973.37
Treasury stock 600.00
Inventory 38.45
Exchange revenue 7,107.11
Toll revenue 662.73
The company had a total of six
employees, including Walter, his wife
Grace, and their young son Edward (E.
P.), who was only twelve years old at the
time he began his telephone career. The
Cleghorn sisters. Nee and Lila, were
operators. Mama Grace ran the business
office while Walter and Edward did the
construction, installation, and
maintenance. Their daughter Derelle
and younger son James soon joined the
small work force. Their system consisted
of 275 subscribers, and the rates were
$3.25 for business and $2 for residence.
Soon after the Burneys purchased the
company, hard times fell upon rural
Georgia, as it did the nation. As progress
stopped, so did the growth of the
telephone industry. A lot of subscribers
were forced to take out their telephones,
especially the farmers; therefore, the
rural lines fell into disrepair. It was after
World War II that new lines were built
into the rural areas. In 1932 the com-
pany printed their first multi-page
telephone directory with paid
Just as the Burneys were pulling the
company out of the depression, a
disaster struck the company and com-
munity. On the night of February 22,
1940, fire swept through four business
houses, including the telephone office.
The fire was discovered around midnight
by two local policemen during their
regular rounds. No one was in the
building except the night telephone
operator. In the true tradition of the
telphone industry, she was able to turn
in the alarm before escaping from the
burning building. As in most com-
munities, the fire alarm was located in
the telephone office.
The telephone office was completely
gutted by the fire, but, fortunately, the
entrance cables were protected by the
buildings brick wall. As soon as the
damage could be surveyed, Walter and
family jumped in to restore service to
their community. They were able to bor-
row a switchboard from a neighboring
telephone company and set up a tem-
porary office next door in the local
movie theaters lounge, and service was
restored in only two days.
On August 9, 1940, less than six
months after a fire destroyed the
magneto central office, a new common
battery system was installed. This was
a two position Kellogg switchboard
equipment with 320 lines, new Cook
1001 MDF (main distribution frame).
Exide DMGO-80 24 volt batteries, and
other equipment. The cost of this equip-
ment was $5,764.66 plus $350.00
Shortly after the common battery
system was installed, E. P. Burney was
called into military service where he
served for four years in the Army Signal
Corp. After his discharge, he returned
to help manage the company, and when
his father died in 1946, he was named
vice president and general manager and
assisted his mother in the management
responsibility. This was the beginning
of the post-war boom, and it seemed to
Ed that everyone wanted telephone ser-
vice at the same time. He began mak-
ing plans to expand the outside plant
facilities and update the system.
Walker County Telephone Company
became the first independent company
in Georgia to install the new crossbar
dial switch, which was the most modem
and fastest switching equipped on the
market at the time. The equipment was
a Kellogg 1040, wired for 1,000 lines
and equipped with 750 lines. This equip-
ment was installed in a new, brick
building located at the comer of Withers
and Cherokee Streets. The system was
cut over on October 7, 1951, serving
1,090 subscribers. As the area continued
DMS-10 Cutover Noble1980
(L-R) Rodney Webb, Frank Keo\wn,
Ken Martin, and Earl Kidd.
to grow, several additions were made to
the equipment, including joining a
Kellogg K-60 crossbar switch to the
1040. In 1955, E. P. Burney became
president of Walker County Telephone
Company after having served the com-
pany for 28 years.
in 1959 a time of day machine was
installed in La Fayette, which gave the
CcJlers the hour, minute, and an adver-
tising message. La Fayette was the first
town of its size (population 5,000) in the
United States to have this service.
Walker County Telephone Company
was one of the independent foremnners
in providing mobile telephone service.
Installed in 1959, this service was up-
dated and paging added in 1969.
A central office was built in the No-
ble community during 1959, and a
Kellogg K-60 and 1040 crossbar equip-
ment were installed serving 135
subscribers. This equipment was upgrad-
ed in 1968. Also in 1959, a central of-
fice was built in the Kensington area.
The first equipment installed was a us-
ed 40 line Kellogg relay-matic serving
47 subscribers. The equipment was later
upgraded to a Stromberg Carlson XY
and in 1975 changed out to a Kellogg
K-60 crosshair.
In 1962, a central office was built to
serve the Villanow community. A
Stromberg-Carlson XY dial office was in-
stalled and served 58 subscribers. Two
years later, Mr. Burney negotiated with
W. E. McWhorter for the purchase of
the Broomtown Telephone Company,
which was the last of the farmer-owned,
mral lines. One hundred subscribers in
a mral airea south of La Fayette were
being served by the mral company when
it was purchased on November 17,1964.
In 1964, the company expanded and
remodeled the La Fayette business of-
fice building to keep pace with the com-
panys growth and to provide much-
needed office space. A warehouse and
radio shop were built behind the
business office.
In keeping with Mr. Burneys
philosophy of providing improved ser-
vice to his subscribers, pushbutton dial
service for the La Fayette exchange was
cut over July 3, 1967. Walker County
Telephone Company was the first in-
dependent telephone company in
Georgia to install pushbutton dialing. By
the end of the year, the 5,000 station
mark was reached.
In order to provide more personaliz-
ed service, the company established 24
hour services in 1968. The main goal
of this new service was to provide infor-
mation, directory assistance, and trou-
ble reporting to their own subscribers
instead of relying on the Bell company
Telephone answering service was add-
ed to answer business lines after hours,
to dispatch business service repairmen,
and to provide manual paging service.
This new service also provided dispatch
service for the telephone company after
hours, as well as monitoring the central
offices alarms.
In January, 1973, a damaging ice
storm hit north Georgia and Walker
County. Poles and lines were down all
over the county. Most of the damage was
in La Fayette where broken trees fell
across cables and knocked down
numerous drop wire services. Everyone
who could run a chain saw or climb a
pole was pressed into service; however,
it was weeks before all of the permanent
repairs were made.
A major expansion program was
begun in 1973. Included in this program
was the installation of new equipment
to provide direct distance dialing (ODD),
which was cut over May 30,1973. Also
a part of this extension was to enlarge
the outside plant facilities by placing
direct buried cable.
The company had enjoyed a steady
station growth of nine percent for the
past ten years. The number of
telephones increased from 2,900 in
1962 to 7,800 in 1973, while the com-
panys revenue reached one million
dollarsa four hundred percent in-
crease over 1962.
With this continued growth, it was
necessary to make plans to expand or
replace the central office equipment in
La Fayette. Mr. Burney had learned of
new, sophisticated, electronic equipment
being developed and manufactured in
Canada by Northern Telecom. Upon fur-
ther investigation, he knew that the new
computer-controlled, electronic switch
was what he wanted for his subscribers.
With this decision made, plant proceed-
ed rapidly. A new building was con-
structed behind the business office on
Cherokee Street to house the new elec-
tronic switch. A new underground duct
system was built to distribute larger
feeder cable.
On November 16, 1974, the new
6,000 line SP-1 electronic switch was
placed into service giving La Fayette
subscribers special features, such as call
forwarding, call waiting, speed calling,
and three-way conference calling.
In 1975, the former combined swit-
ching and business office building at 108
Withers Street was completely remodel-
ed into a modem business and ad-
ministration facility.
On December 1, 1976, after seeing
the completion of the improvements in
the La Fayette exchange, Mr. Ed elected
to assume the position of chairman of
the board, and J. Rodney Webb was ap-
pointed president. Mr. Webb had been
executive vice president and plant
manager since December 1, 1975.
In 1978, the management saw a need
for better control of subscriber billing
which had been contracted to a data
processing company for several years.
A computer was selected to fully
automate subscriber billing, accounting,
and other records. The companys
growth has required that the system be
updated over the years. The number of
subscribers doubled from 1967 to 1979
when the company recorded 10,000
Villanow Cutover to Digital1984
Ed Burney and Earl Kidd.
Upon completion of the La Fayette
modernization program, Mr. Webb and
his staff directed their efforts to improv-
ing the other three exchanges. The
rapid growth plus the high maintenance
cost in the Noble exchange warranted
immediate improvements. Engineering
began on replacement of the Kellogg
K-60 crossbar switch which was install-
ed in 1959. The Northern Telecom
DMS-10 digital switch, which was only
introduced to the telephone industry in
1976, was selected as the new central
office switch and was cut over in April,
1979. Following the cut over of the new
Noble central office, it was determined
that the company needed another outlet
for toll service instead of relying only on
the Bell company N route. With the
approval of the Georgia Public Service
Commission, a toll cable was placed
from La Fayette to Lytle. The facility was
placed into service in May, 1981, and
provided much-needed diversity. Other
toll cables were placed between the Ken-
sington, Villanow, and La Fayette ex-
changes in 1982 providing improved toll
and EAS service.
Continuing with the companys overall
improvement program, two more
DMS-10 digital switches were being
engineered for the Kensington and
Villanow exchanges. The new switch in
Kensington was cut over in March,
1981, replacing the used K-60 crossbar
which was installed in 1975. The new
DMS-10 switch in Villanow was cut over
in December, 1984, to replace the
Stromberg Carlson XY switch which was
installed in 1962. In conjunction with
the Villanow switch, a 150 line remote
was installed in a new building in the
Subligna community located in Chat-
tooga County to provide one and two-
party service to 95 subscribers previously
served by four-party service.
During this period, other service im-
provements were being made in the La
Fayette exchange rural areas. Most of
the new cable additions were being plac-
ed underground, while other electronic
equipment was utilized to provide
upgraded services. Walker County
Telephone Company has overcome
many obstacles to bring modem, depen-
dable telephone service to its area.
Ed and Catherine Burney, who have
many GTA friends, have added much to
the association by their active participa-
tion. A letter of intent to purchase was
received from Continental Telephone
Company of the South (CONTEL) in
Waverly Hall
Company, Inc.
Waverly Hall is desirably situated just
north of Columbus. The telephone com-
pany which serves the area is at present
a family owned and operated
Waverly Hall Telephone Company,
Inc. was organized on January 1,1944.
A family member who presently owns it
purchased it from J. F. Adams, L. W.
Slaughter, Gus W. Owens and J. B.
Thompson. The date that these
gentlemen first started it and the other
earlier data associated with establishing
this company unfortunately are
Julian T. Jones organized the com-
pany in Waverly Hall to serve the peo-
ple in that city and, in fact at that time,
only the city limits were served by the
company. He remained as proprietor
and on June 9,1964, the company was
The stockholders and officers at the
time were Julian T. Jones, president;
Ethel H. Jones, vice president; and Mary
Eunice Jones, secretary-treasurer.
The company began operation with
almost all North Electric telephones.
The original central office equipment in-
cluded an all-relay automatic telephone
CX-60 equipped with 40 lines, also from
North Electric Company. Julian Jones
at one time operated the company while
employed full-time by Southern Bell in
nearby Columbus.
This small Georgia independent com-
pany has kept a remarkably high state
profile for a company of its size, largely
to the credit of its capable president,
Mary Eunice Jones. Robert Jones, son
of Mary Eunice and Julian Jones, is ac-
tive in the management of the company.
Mary Eunice is presently serving as vice
president of the Georgia Telephone
Association, ascending to the
Upon the death of Julian Jones, Mary
Eunice Jones took over operation of the
company. She remembers a period of
despondency when she was told she
could not handle it.
Mary Eunice, in fact epitomizes that
special quality of handling the small
telephone company in a way the larger
company would find impossible.
She knows her patrons personally and
at one time she hand delivered their
telephone directory. Now she has be-
tween 1000 and 1500 customers and
cant always deliver them and she regrets
it since she believes in contact to know
their problems and needs. A friend to
Waverly Hall (and GTA) and a one-
woman Chamber of Commerce, Mary
Eunice Jones is a special telephone lady.
Waverly Hall Telephone Company is
an active participant in GTA activities
and enjoys membership in USTA and
OPASTCO, as well as the Waverly Hall
Chamber of Commerce. In 1965 the
company built a new facility and enlarg-
ed the existing office space. At that same
time they moved to seven digit dialing
with a NE NX-2A office equipped with
150 lines. Lines have been added con-
tinually in an attempt to provide modem
telephone service to the customers of
Waverly Hall Telephone Company.
Wilkes Telephone
and Electric
Wilkes Telephone Company has ex-
changes in Crawfordsville, Lincolnton,
Metasville, Rayle, Tignall, and
Washington with Washington as its
headquarters location.
The company was built by Oliver S.
Dyson, Sr. of Washington in 1902. In
1919 W. L. New sold his Metter ex-
change and purchased the Washington
Telephone Company. About 1924 Con-
tinental Telephone Company acquired
the company and operated it until 1954
when Oliver S. Dyson, Sr. became owner
for the second time. At the same time
Mr. Dyson purchased the Lincolnton
Telephone Company and began opera-
tion as the Wilkes Telephone and Elec-
tric Company.
Mr. Dyson entered the venture with
many years of experience under his belt,
having owned and operated the Tignall
exchange for a number of years and also
maintained a company-owned toll line
to Washington and Elberton. With the
help of REA loan funds, in 1953 the
company occupied new facilities and all
operations were converted to dial. Upon
0. S. Dysons death, ownership was
passed to his three sons and two
daughters. At that point Joe Dyson was
named president of the company. Joe
was active in the GTA for a number of
years including being president in 1968.
Another son, George Dyson, a very
delightful individual, is now president of
the company and oversees the business
which has six exchanges and one cen-
tral office. The company serves Wilkes,
Lincoln, and Taliaferro Counties and has
a total plant investment of over seven
million dollars. Oliver S. Dyson, Jr. is
the capable vice president of the com-
pany. Wilkes Telephone and Electric
Company is another Georgia indepen-
dent telephone company providing
dependable, efficient service to its
Mrs. Oliver Dyson, 1940,
mother of George Dyson,
president of
Wilkes Telephone Company.
1940~Mr. and Mrs. Oliver
S. Dyson, founders of
Wilkes Telephone Company.
Wilkinson County
Company, Inc.
Irwinton, Gordon, and Toomsboro are
served by the Wilkinson County
Telephone Company. The independent
operation was started in Gordon by the
Brooks family.
When Harold Carswell graduated
from law school at Mercer, he became
involved in the company. (Harold
Carswell, who now resides in Florida,
went on to become a federal judge and,
incidentally, was the Supreme Court
nominee named by President Nixon that
the Senate failed to confirm.)
George Henry Carswell and two part-
ners, Wilber Council and Ralph W.
Culpepper, took over the company
around 1949 and incorporated in 1954.
The company has operated as a corpora-
tion since that date.
Ralph Culpepper became president of
the company in this three-way partner-
ship. Upon his death, Wilber Council
followed in that olfice and with his pass-
ing, Julia Porter Carswell assumed the
presidency and now fills that position.
Wilkinson County Telephone Com-
pany became a part of the REA loan
program when in 1962-63, they receiv-
ed funds to upgrade the companys plant
operation. Even before that time, there
was a constant effort to install and main-
tain available and affordable equipment
to provide the best possible service to
their consumers.
The company installed Stromberg
Carlson switching equipment, then the
XY switch, and about that time they
started to put in cable with upgrading
which included trying to pick up lines
in the rural areas.
With 1975 came the conversion to all
one-party and, in fact, Wilkinson County
Telephone was the first company in
Georgia to do so.
Wilkinson County Telephone Com-
panys three central offices serve 4,566
dial phones. They have a customer base
of 3,200 access lines. Koalin Mining and
Processing, the largest mining industry
in Georgia, represents the largest dollar
George Carswell, son of President
Julia Carswell, is business manager and
secretary of the company. George says,
The company assumes a posture of be-
ing very responsive to our customers
needs. We take great pride in this and
have been told by the Georgia Public
Service Commission that our customer
complaint incidence is extremely low.
He also recalled stories of the old days
when the red clay ground in Wilkinson
County was so hard the old hole diggers
would just chip it. He said they solved this
by digging the hole a few feet, pouring
water in it, letting it sit overnight to soak
in and soften the ground, then digging a
little more the next day. It took three
or four days, but it got the job done.
George is 1986-1987 president of GTA.
The Wilkinson County Telephone
Company dedicates itself to objectives
and goals that make it an efficient,
forward-looking telephone company
while continuing to have concern for the
individual customer.
Independent telephony is a wonderful success story and the Bell history unfolds as
one of the greatest accounts of all times.
Frank Skinner, President of Southern Bell, couldnt have said it more appropriately
when he wrote that Endings and beginnings have special meaning. As this story of
telephonys beginning came to an end, we discovered that it was just as important as
the start because of the new summons. Today is the time of contemporary pioneers.
The next book will have chapters that tell how the challenges that encumber us now
are resolved.
Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. once wrote, History is lived in the main
by the unknown and forgotten.'
A century from now, we may be among the unknown and forgotten Schles-
inger referred to. But I believe with all thats inside me that what we are starting
here will be remembered long after we are gone.
Frank Skinner, President
Southern Bell Telephone Company
(The History of Southern Bell)
And so it is that a fundamental pioneer spirit coupled with a probing analysis of to-
day and that unquenchable thirst for tomorrow brings us to the start of the unofficial
spring of years. The challenge has Just begun in the telephone industry. It is a new
era. We shall continue developing new methods of keeping tele-communications as
one of the best consumer purchases in Georgia.
The End-
About the Author
A native of Baldwin, Georgia, Carolyn Jordan Stewart is married to H. Milton Stewart, and they have two children,
Jeb (age 18) and Jill (age 16). Since 1978, she has been corporate secretary and assistant treasurer of Standard Telephone
A woman of many attributes and talents, Carolyn was once recognized as the youngest postmaster in the United
States when she served in that capacity at the Baldwin Post Office. She is well-known for leadership roles in church
and civic activities.
Her interest in and devotion to preserving the history of Habersham County produced a successful campaign to
conserve and improve one of the states most scenic spots. As a member of the Georgia Mountain Planning and Development
Commissions Historical Preservation Committee, Carolyn headed a county-wide mission that succeeded in placing several
local historical sites on the National Register of Historical Places.
From the date of her affiliation with the telephone industry, Carolyn has had an impelling interest in the fabulous
heritage embedded in the history of telephony. As an official curator of Standards collection of relics and memorabilia,
she is constantly on the lookout for anything of historical interest that may be added to the assortment. She initiated,
planned, and directed a highly successful celebration of Standard Telephone Companys 80th anniversary. Carolyn was
instrumental in producing and publishing a history of Standard Telephone Company entitled A Vivid and Compelling
Dream, by H. M. Stewart, Sr. In 1985 she was asked by ITPA to spearhead a movement to promote the collection
and preservation of artifacts and historical telephone lore in Georgia. This activity has produced a noticeable increase
in appreciation for our rich heritage and several volumes of interesting material. In 1986 Carolyn was approached by
the Georgia Telephone Association to prepare a volume on telephony in Georgia which culminated in the composition
of Arms Across Georgia.
GJEORGMA. ^el^kone ^^^ocuUion