Friday, February 11, 2011

Early Telephone System

Column sent to Frederick Leader and Frederick Press
March 16, 2010

Area’s First Telephone System Installed in 1902

When was the first telephone system installed in Frederick? Amazingly, it was right after the town was organized in 1902.
That is according to an article about the Frederick Telephone Company that was printed in a 1916 Frederick Leader industrial edition.
The telephone had been invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. Bell Telephone Company was organized in 1877 and by 1878 was serving 10,000 accounts – all in big cities in the Northeast. Telephone service grew rapidly after that, but Bell Telephone maintained a near monopoly and had no real interest in serving rural areas.
When Bell telephone patents expired in the 1890s, though, it freed companies all over the country, including rural areas, to build telephone systems.
The 1916 Leader article said that the first telephone system in Frederick was installed in 1902 by Bellamy and Shaw, and was later purchased by J.E. White. In 1906, E.J. Boase bought half interest in the company from White, and purchased the other half in 1907. Boase was owner of the company when the 1916 article was written. Excerpts from the 1916 article follow:
“Coming here in the fall of 1906, from the farm, with the small capital of $6,000 and practically no experience in the telephone business, Mr. E.J. Boase has, with the help of his competent assistants, built up a corporation with assets of something like $60,000, in that comparatively short time, and is today furnishing to over 1,000 subscribers a quality of telephone service unsurpassed in Oklahoma or any other place.
“When Mr. Boase left the farm in 1906, to take charge of the straggling pretense of a telephone system attempting to supply service for the prairie shack town of Frederick, a number of this farmer neighbors wisely shook their heads and predicted dire things at his rashness in venturing into a line of business in which he was without practical experience, but with patient application, careful attention to details, courteous treatment of everyone with whom he came in contact and by figuratively and actually “living with the business,” he soon had it on a basis that put the glooms on the run, and nowhere can be found a more complete and up-to-date plant, or more courteous and efficient employees than those of the Frederick Telephone Company.
“Besides being a conspicuous example of the man who cares for his own business, Mr. Boase is one of the most public spirited and progressive of Frederick’s business men and one of the city’s best and most effective boosters. He is always among the first in any enterprise for the upbuilding of the city, and with a heart as tender as a mother’s, no worthy object of charity appeals to him in vain.
“In line with the city’s industrial development, Mr. Boase has only recently completely overhauled the telephone system of the city, practically rebuilding it throughout, installing a big Kellogg switchboard of a common battery type, and doing away with the old out of date system by which the subscriber had to “crank” to get central.”
“So far as the city’s needs at present are concerned the Frederick Telephone company is meeting them fully, and it is safe to predict that with the future growth and development of Frederick, the company will continue to meet any and all demands that may be necessary. Frederick and Tillman County may well feel proud and take satisfaction in the possession of such a business institution as the Frederick Telephone Company.”
E.J. Boase died in September 1935 and is buried in the Frederick Cemetery.

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