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Histories:  Trempealeau County Historical Accounts:

"History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917":

Chapter 13:

Telephones

-As transcribed from pages 267 - 269


Telephone service in Trempealeau County is extensive and adequate, supplied by the Western Wisconsin Telephone Company, with exchanges in the leading villages, by the Osseo Telephone Company with an exchange at Osseo, and by numerous farmers' telephone companies which operate rural lines and maintain exchanges in several of the villages.

Probably the first telephone in Trempealeau County was that of Dr. G. N. Hildershide, who in April, 1894, strung a wire between his office and residence in Arcadia.

The first telephone exchange in the county was put in operation in the fall of 1895 by W. P. Veitch and Geo. S. Luce at Galesville.  The switch was a crude affair manufactured by Mr. Luce himself.  A single wire was strung to Winona, thus giving connection with the outside world.

The first telephone company organized in Trempealeau County was the Bluff City Telephone Company, incorporated at Trempealeau, Nov. 12, 1895, by Clarence S. Utter and B. A. Cornelle at Trempealeau for the purpose of building a telephone line from Trempealeau to Centerville.  Acting under this charter Clarence S. Utter erected tamarack poles at irregular intervals from Trempealeau to Centerville, and thence to the village limits of Arcadia.

At this time a telephone line had been established from Waumandee to Fountain City.  Through this line the people of Fountain City were receiving much trade from the rich Waumandee valley and from the Montana region.  Senator John C. Gaveney, with keen foresight, realized that Arcadia's opportunity had come.  He consulted with Emil Maurer, J. M. Fertig and W. P. Masseure, local merchants, and these gentlemen, with Dr. G. N. Hidershide, constructed a telephone line between Montana and Arcadia, with intermediate stations at Glencoe and Waumandee.  But connection with Fountain City was refused at Waumandee, and the men turned their attention southward to the line which Clarence S. Utter had projected.  For $200 they purchased the rights of Clarence S. Utter, A. W. McCullom and H. Carrey in the Trempealeau-Centerville-Arcadia projected line and proceeded to organize a company.

The Arcadia Telephone Company was incorporated June 5, 1896, the officers, on motion of John C. Gaveney, being:  J. M. Fertig, president; G. N. Hidershide, vice-president; Emil Maurer, secretary, and Geo. A. Schneller (representing W. P. Massuere), treasurer.  The company acquired the interests of its individual members in the line to Waumandee and the projected line to Trempealeau.  A conference at Winona resulted in a promise from the Independent companies at La Crosse and Winona to build connecting lines to Trempealeau.  Mr. Gaveney then went to Independence, Whitehall and Blair and raised funds by selling coupon books to be used after the Valley line was in operation.  The line was built up the valley in 1906 and put in operation at once, Independence and Whitehall securing service in the winter and Blair in the spring.  Then the line to Trempealeau was completed.

In 1900 an exchange was opened at Whitehall, and the same year the lines were extended up Elk Creek and up Pigeon Valley.  In 1901 the Galesville line was purchased, giving connection with the Galesville and Ettrick region, connections were made at Osseo giving access to the Beef River country, and an exchange was opened at Independence.  An exchange was opened at Blair in the spring of 1902.

In the meantime many farms were connected with the various lines, and to make the company a truly community endeavor it was decided to reorganize with the stock distributed among the farmers.

The Western Wisconsin Telephone Company, a reorganization of the Arcadia Telephone Company, was incorporated May 19, 1902, with thirty-seven stockholders.  An exchange was at once established at Centerville.  In March, 1903, the lines of the Trempealeau & Buffalo County Telephone Company and its line to Mondovi were purchased.  Soon afterward the Winona Telephone Company turned over to the Western Wisconsin Telephone Company all its holdings in western Wisconsin, and in 1904 the exchange at Pigeon Falls was established.  Later this exchange was abandoned.  The company covers the greater part of the county, and the southeastern part of Buffalo County, and crossing the Black River at Hunter's Ridge covers a considerable territory in the northern part of La Crosse County.  It has adequate connections at La Crosse and Winona.  Besides operating extensive rural lines it has exchanges at Arcadia, Centerville, Galesville, Trempealeau, Blair, Whitehall, Independence and Ettrick, and makes connection not only with the local exchange of the Osseo Telephone Company at Osseo, but also with the farmers' local exchanges at Ettrick, Galesville and Blair.

The officers are:  President, John C. Gaveney; vice-president, G. N. Hidershide; treasurer, G. A. Schneller; secretary, Emil Maurer; general manager, J. I. Dewey; superintendent, Thomas Cummings; directors, Frank A. Kellman, Galesville; O. B. Borsheim, Blair; Frank C. Richmond, Arcadia; George Bohrnstedt, Arcadia; Emil Maurer, Arcadia; K. K. Hagestad, Ettrick; David Wood, Whitehall; John Sprecher, Independence; Geo. A. Schneller, Arcadia; G. N. Hidershide, Arcadia; John C. Gaveney, Arcadia.

Underground wires are maintained at Arcadia, Galesville and Independence, and conduits for that purpose have been laid at Whitehall.

The Osseo Telephone Company was organized May 3, 1900, and incorporated May 15, 1900, by J. L. Linderman, Dr. E. A. Olson, Charles F. Trager and F. M. Smith.  The first officers were:  F. A. Smith, president; C. F. Trager, vice-president, and H. L. Smith, secretary and treasurer.  The capital stock at beginning was $4,500, which was subsequently increased to $10,000 and later to $25,000.  The present officers are:  A. G. Cox, president; C. I. Fields, vice-president; D. L. Remington, secretary and manager; F. M. Smith, assistant manager; T. J. Thompson, treasurer.  The exchanged at Osseo was opened in July, 1900, the one at Eleva in June, 1901.  The exchange at Mondovi was purchased the same year and in 1904 was sold to the Mondovi business men.  In 1901 a line was built to Eau Claire from Eleva and later was sold to Chas. Sequni of Shaw.  The Eleva exchange was sold to the Eleva Farmers' Telephone Company of Eleva in February, 1913.  At the present time the Osseo exchange furnishes service to nearly 500 subscribers.

The first farmers' companies in Trempealeau County were at Whitehall and Blair.  The dates of organization of the various farmers' phones are as follows:

  • The Lincoln Telephone Company (with local exchange at Whitehall), organized April 4, 1905.
  • The Preston Telephone Company (with local exchange at Blair), organized July 25, 1905.
  • The Tamarack Telephone Company (in which is included the Newcomb Valley Telephone Company, organized April 4, 1906), organized March 14, 1906.
  • The Ettrick Telephone Company (with local exchanges at Galesville and Ettrick), organized Jan. 8, 1906.
  • The Beef River Valley Telephone Company (with a short line east of Osseo), organized Sept. 16, 1906.
  • The Strum Telephone Company, organized Sept. 13, 1907.
  • The Pigeon Valley Farmers' Telephone Company, organized March 31, 1908.
  • The Independence Telephone Company (with local exchange at Independence), organized June 18, 1908.
  • The Pleasant Valley Telephone Company, organized March 26, 1909.
  • The Eleva Farmers' Telephone Company, organized April 13, 1909.



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