CHAPTER XXV.
TELEPHONES.

One of the important facilities of business and domestic life and one that has become so essentially a part of modern life that people seldom realize the conditions of a few years past, is the telephone. In June, 1882, the county commissioners granted the Sullivan Telephone Exchange Company the right to erect poles and wires along and across the roads of the county, and by the latter part of July following the exchange was in operation in Sullivan. Connection was perfected to Carlisle in August of the same year, the instrument being located in the railroad station and there being only one in town.

This was the beginning of the Central Union Telephone Company, which in 1883 had about 350 individual telephones in Terre Haute and had extended its service to the adjacent towns of Brazil, Greencastle, Carbon, Sullivan, Shelburn, Farmersburg, Paris, Marshall, Vincennes, and the city of Indianapolis.

However, it is within the last dozen years that the telephone has become a familiar aid and convenience in Sullivan county. While the Bell Company had a monopoly the expense of individual service prevented its general extension, and it appears that during the early nineties the only telephone service in Sullivan was long-distance connection with other towns. An item in the Democrat of February 2, 1894, says that the telephone was a wonderful convenience and was generally patronized, but was finally abandoned on account of the high cost, and with the expiration of the patent on the Bell instrument it was hoped that the price might be lowered. In 1897 another item offers the use of the Democrat phone to all its friends, from which it is clear that the use of the telephone was still very limited in this town. In 1904 the Central Union Telephone Company was granted a franchise to enter Sullivan. It had been granted a similar franchise in 1896, but had not taken advantage of its provisions. This action of the Bell interests in seeking to extend its business in Sullivan was no doubt the result of the great activity 011 the part of the independent local companies. In 1903 the Farmersburg Mutual Telephone Company and the Hayworth Telephone Company had lines in operation in the northern part of the county, while there were local exchanges in Fairbanks and Turman townships, and in Jefferson and perhaps in other townships. Most of these exchanges were operated on the co-operative plan, and the service cost very little. At the Pleasantville exchange each subscriber paid fifty cents each three months, and this was more than sufficient to pay expenses. Since that time there has been a gradual consolidation of the independent interests and the Sullivan Telephone Company, which was incorporated in 1903, controls or works in agreement with the independent telephone systems throughout the county and state and in Illinois.




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