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1878 First telephone installed

In 1875 Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and in 1878 the first telephone was installed in Madison by Richard Johnson. It connected his home, the Johnson Starch Factory and the J. M. & I Railroad depot. It was a convenience for him and, by all accounts, a source of amusement for his family, especially his young daughter who took every opportunity to sing to people on the other end of the line.

In 1881 citizens of the town considered the merits of contracting for the formation of a telephone exchange in Madison with the Central Telephone Company. The company required the assurance of thirty subscribers which were quickly signed up. In early March of that year a shipment of poles, wire, cross-arms and insulators arrived by rail. A foreman and a gang of five men completed the installation in seven short weeks.

A phone directory was published in May along with instructions on how to use the new contraption. Sometime between 1883 and 1885 “Ma Bell” came to town to provide service but in 1895 six local businessmen formed the Madison Telephone Company. This company absorbed the Bell Company. In 1905 the Madison Telephone Company changed hands and moved from its Main Street office to 112 East Third Street. Around 1932 the Indiana Telephone Company took over. Contel Telephone Company bought the business in 1978 and modernized the company. In 1992 GTE took over the company which was later sold to Verizon.

Internet: Google Books-Before the Fooltlights and Behind the Scenes by Olive Logan
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MJCPL: Historical Files
MJCPL: History of Jefferson County, Ind. By E. O. Muncie