Telephones

The telephone was a new invention of the 1870's.  There was a bit of good advertising of how up to date the new town of Cooperstown was when on December 14, 1883 Editor Stair wrote, "Some of our enterprising business men are joining issues and erecting a telephone line from the depot to the Palace Hotel."  And by January 25, 1884 the Editor could boast, "Two telephones have just arrived in town and will be put into immediate operation.  One wire will extend from the Palace to the depot, and the other from the Bank of Cooperstown to the Cooperstown Livery."  By February 22, they were up and in working order.

In 1899, a telephone company was organized and headed by Messrs. Goff and Cole.  By June they were setting poles and stringing wires.  The first telephone office, or "Central" was located in T.E. Warner's office over Stevens and Engers Store.  The first "Central" was a man, Andrew Patrick.  At this time the exchange was local in town only, with no long distance connection.

By September of 1900, the long distance telephone poles were set up on Burrell on the south side.  October 4, 1900, the Courierreported, "The long distance telephone people completed stringing wires to Cooperstown last Friday morning - the instrument and booth had not arrived, and when they get here we will be in direct communications with the outside world."

The Exchange was moved in July of 1901 to occupy the ground floor of the Von Blon's Photography Studio, known now as the Lende building.

The October 17, 1901 Courier reported that a phone I me had been built between town and the Cooper farm and on May 22, 1902 one had been built to "Ranch 7".  This was followed by a rapid extension of rural phone lines in every direction from Cooperstown.

The Griggs County Telephone Company was organized in November of 1906 and took over the business December 1.  Mr. Goff was retained as the manager.  By May of 1907, they had received their new switchboard and installed it in their new quarters over Peter E. Nelson's Hardware store in the office formerly occupied by Bartlett and Gladstone.

Harold Brown went to work for the telephone company in 1907 and later that year married Clara Francis.  They moved to Binford where he was a combination man and Mrs. Brown operated the switchboard.  By 1909, they had moved back to Cooperstown.  Shortly afterward Mr. Brown resigned and later managed the McVille Company.  Brown was rehired as manager of the company in 1913.  In that year many rural lines to the east, south and northeast of town were sold to farmers groups and were switched by the company for many years.  The last of these were bought back by the company approximately sixty years later.

In 1923, Mr. and Mrs. Brown purchased the company.  In that same year the McHenry Telephone Company became a part of the Griggs County system.

Many improvements have been made over the years.  As early as 1926, several aerial lines were replaced by underground cable.  After that same year the office and switchboard were moved to the upstairs front rooms of the old First National Bank building.  The office remained there until dial service was installed.  The company then moved into a new building at the rear of the bank lot.

Binford first had dial service in 1940, Cooperstown in 1942, and McHenry in 1957.  In the sixties and seventies more aerial cables were replaced with underground cables, and now the rural system is completely underground.

New buildings containing the new equipment were completed in Cooperstown in 1971, Binford and McHenry in 1974.

In 1974, subscribers of the Griggs County Telephone Company had available to them direct distance dialing (DDD) extended area service (EAS), serving the three exchanges.

In 1945, Willis Nilson and his wife Lucille, daughter of Harold Browns, came to Cooperstown and started working for the company.

After the death of Harold Brown in 1953 his son, Gordon of Enderlin became president of the company.  At the present time Gordon Brown and his son, Ray are managing the Moore and Liberty Telephone Company in Enderlin.  Harold Brown, son of Gordon Brown, is manager of the Western Telephone Company at Faulkton, South Dakota.

Since the death of Clara M. Brown in 1976, Mr. and Mrs. Nilson are managing the Griggs County Telephone Company.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 204 

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