Since we are now so dependent on our phones, I thought it would be interesting to take a brief look at the history of telephone service in Caddo. This isn’t a topic I’ve specifically researched. I just used “search” to explore what I already had in my files for 1900-1925. I find the last item especially touching. I remember speaking with lots of telephone operators over the years. My mother worked as a switchboard for our local furniture store for a short time and I was the “relief” switchboard operator for a Macy’s store for five years.
Phone service required lots of planning and work. Professionals and businesses were the first customers and you can see by the items below that they quickly realized the advantages of being connected. Towns got service before the country did, and of course most country patrons had to endure “party lines” -shared and often overheard, by all. I left out several items about crimes and tragedies that were reported or averted by telephone, but you can see from the few I did include that the telephone was often literally a life saver.
Be sure to read November 1, 1901.
April 20, 1900
Dr. Long has had connections with the long distance telephone put into his residence and office. The bank will also put in connections.
September 7, 1900
The Durant Telephone Co. has commenced putting in lines from Caddo to Blue, Bokchito, Bennington, Jackson, Mayhew, and on to Antlers on the Frisco east of Caddo and will put in a line to Folsom, Ego, Wapanucka, Rock Academy, J___, Stonewall, and up to Rolf on the Frisco running from Sapulpa to Sherman. They will also put in a line from Ego to Atoka by way of Boggy Depot. These lines will put us in connection with most of the towns east of and west of Caddo between the two Frisco railroads. The telephone company deserves the thanks for the commendable enterprise. The lines will no doubt be of great advantage to the business community and they deserve patronage.
October 19, 1900
A.M. Robertson bought the Choctaw Telephone lines and will make Durant his headquarters. (Mr. Robertson was the manager of the Chickasha telephone system. He married Vivia Locke, Caddo, in August of 1900.)
October 12, 1900
Henry Chiles received a telephone message Wednesday stating that this father who lives at Sherman was very sick. Chiles left on the first train for Sherman.
Telephone magazine, Volume 17
By John C. McMynn, Frederic Auten Combs Perrine, Carl E. Kammeyer 1901
OTHER STATES. Caddo, I. T.—The Choctaw Telephone Company was incorporated, with A. M. Robertson manager. The company is composed of Caddo men and has bought the Hodges long-distance line, and will put in a local system here. The capital stock is $25,000 and the company is a strong one, including H. M. Dunlap, president of the Caddo bank.
April 5, 1901
The Choctaw Telephone Company was incorporated last week with A. M. Roberson as manager. The company is composed of Caddo men and has bought the Hodges long distant line and will put in a local system here.
November 1, 1901
A man was recently arrested and fined $25 for listening to a telephone message passing over a line in which he owned a phone and afterward telling what he heard. The theory was that messages or conversations over the wires are confidential and the fact that he owned a phone gave him no right to repeat anything he might have heard either by accident or otherwise.
April 25, 1902
I have moved my bakery to the Lynch building where I hope to be better fixed to accommodate my trade, and keep on hand all kinds of cakes, pies and fresh bread. I will deliver every afternoon fresh bread and rolls. C. F. Hacker, phone 76
September 12, 1902
Miss Mary Allen, popular telephone operator, visited relatives and friends at Lehigh Sunday.
September 25, 1902
Mrs. Lynch is now at work at home, doing fine millinery and dressmaking. Call and see her. Phone 28.
January 9, 1903
Miss Anna Dodd has accepted a position as central for the Choctaw Telephone Co. at this place.
May 8, 1903
Last week The Herald finished the new directory for the Choctaw Telephone Co. for Caddo.
The Herald job department this week turned out a most prosperous job for the Tribal Bank & Trust Co. We have other neat work and if you want any just phone us. Forty five is our number.
July 17, 1903
Miss Mattie Harvey, from Atoka, arrived Tuesday, and Wednesday took charge of the telephone central office in Caddo; Mrs. Simpson resigned.
July 24, 1903
(from July 28, 1933, “Thirty Years Ago”)
The Choctaw Telephone Company held the telephone franchise in Caddo. They were advertising telephones at $2 per month for business use and $1.50 per month for the residential phones.
September 2, 1904
Leave or phone your orders for ice cream at Wood’s Drug Store. Only the finest pasteurized cream served. None other should be used.
September 9, 1904
Smith’s Premium lard, ham, and breakfast bacon. Phone 72. Hill Bros.
February 9, 1906
(from a story about a killing at Folsom.)
The wires are down over the phone to both Nail and Folsom and Marshal Broderick of Caddo only knew that the homicide had been committed. The marshal’s office here knew nothing about the transaction at all.
May 13, 1910
Don’t forget to pay your telephone bill by May 15, 1910 and avoid having your telephone service discontinued. Present card to be receipted.
May 27, 1910
(From an article about new roads.)
…They will be inducive to the good phone systems that are being planned and will help to make happy homes and up-to-date farmers and neighbors.
June 30, 1911
If you have anything to haul let us know. Sargent Bros. Dray and Transfer Co. Phone 84.
August 28, 1911
Manager J. O. Dick of the Telephone Company was here Tuesday.
I have bought the real estate and insurance business of A. F. Manning. I will represent the same insurance companies and will appreciate any new business as well as a continuance of the old. Also make long and short time loans on farm lands. Buy and sell real estate. List your property with me. Office in rear of Security State Bank. Telephone connections. W. H. Robbins
September 15, 1911
Mrs. Laura Winfrey has returned from a month’s vacation and is again in charge of the telephone office.
April, 19, 1912
New Phone Line
A new rural telephone line was installed last week running from central to parties living north of town. It is designated as Line I and the following is the list of subscribers:
I-15 F. Manning
I-25 Bill Slack
I-52 E. T. Tipton
I-51 Bill Driver
I-151 I. N. Chaney
Soon there will be a network of lines running in every direction which with the rural routes established will largely eliminate the necessity for farmers coming to town.
January 17, 1913
Miss Ronnie Mays, dressmaker, Grover Phillips residence. Phone 125.
April 18, 1913
J.M. Ellsworth from Kenefick was out this week repairing his telephone lines.
July 4, 1913
New clean groceries at Haralson’s. Stock just put up. No old goods. I would like a part of your trade. Free delivery. Phone me your wants.
October 31, 1913
The stockholders of the Liberty Hill Telephone Company, which is L line from Caddo, met Thursday night, October 23rd for the purpose of electing a president to succeed John Horton, who has been serving the company ever since it was organized. C. W. Banta was elected to fill the place. Mr. Horton has made us a good president, but he is planning to leave us soon. Liberty Hill will lose a good citizen when he moves away.
December 17, 1914
Another Killing in Bryan County
Durant, Dec. 16- Tuesday morning Sheriff Lib Hart received a phone message from Henry Anderson at Colbert stating that he had killed Jim Brazil, and wanted to give himself up…
April 23, 1916
Mrs. Laura Winfrey is spending the week in Ardmore attending the meeting of the district managers and plant chiefs of the Pioneer Telephone Co. Mrs. Winfrey has been manager at Caddo for many years-some fifteen-and is one of the best that the company has in any place.
August 19, 1917
Ross Bonner returned from Oklahoma City Thursday where he had been on business for the Pioneer Telephone Co.
May 11, 1923
Mothers’ Day, Sunday, May 13. Let us say it with flowers for you. Phone 989, Durant Flower Shop.
December 22, 1922
(from a story about the robbery of the Caddo National Bank.)
…After securing the money the robbers shut all twelve people in the vault, and made their way out the back way, where the car was waiting, engine running. A telephone inside the vault enabled those in it to phone for help; but by this time the robbers were swiftly going east…
June 12, 1925
Maytubby Home Burns Tuesday
At about two o’clock Tuesday afternoon the home of J. D. Maytubby, cashier of the Caddo National Bank, was discovered by passersby to be on fire. The alarm was sounded quickly and with the aid of the telephones, a crowd was soon on hand, with fire fighting apparatus. By hard work and two streams of water, the main part of the house and practically all the furniture was saved. The roof and upper rooms were wrecks and water damage down stairs was very great.
July 17, 1925
Mrs. Park Awarded a Bronze Service Medal
At a well-appointed 7 o’clock dinner at the Royal Hotel last Friday evening, Mrs. Lydia Annie Park was presented with a bronze medal from the Theodore N. Vail fund for extraordinary service rendered a subscriber. (T. N. Vail was former head of American Telephone and Telegraph)
The presentation was made by J. A. Armstrong, traffic superintendent of Oklahoma City in a speech in which he recounted various deeds of self-effacing daring done by employees while on duty and the service rendered by Mrs. Park which entitled her to the Medal.
It will be remembered that when the M. B. Taylor home, 2 miles west of town, burned Dec. 28th last, Mr. Taylor frantically called to Central, who though somewhat confused, managed to summon aid to the stricken family. (Central refers to the telephone switchboard.)
Mrs. Park responded that she only did her duty, but was glad to be of service at any time to people.
There were present at this dinner C. A. Voyles, district manager of the Southwestern, Durant; W. T. Henderson, district plant chief, Ardmore; E. P. King, district traffic chief, Ardmore; J. A. Armstrong, Mr. and Mrs. W. N. Green, Mr. and Mrs. G. A. Crossett, Dr. and Mrs. L. M. Nettelton, Dr. C. D. Dale, A. E. Richey, Mrs. Laura Winfrey, Mrs. Birdie Hill, Mrs. W. C. Faulkner, Mr. and Mrs. John Park.
Enjoyable music was rendered by the Twilight Toe Teaser Orchestra. Mrs. G. L. Williams served the dinner in her own best style.
Remarks were made by G. A. Crossett, E. P. King, W. N. Green, Mrs. Winfrey and Mrs. Park.
It was a fitting tribute to Mrs. Park who on many occasions has rendered extraordinary service to patrons.