A Tiny Telephone Company

...one of the most beautiful telephones ever made is the Standard Telephone & Electric "rope shaft" candlestick. Standard, like a lot of other manufacturers, also launched an Independent telephone company to compete against Bell Telephone. The Standard story below is representative of what happened to most of those who tried to compete against the Bell monopoly. (oldtelephones.com; © Copyright 2021 Old Telephones)


(from a book entitled, “Madison, a History of the Formative Years” by David V. Mollenhoff) In 1895 a group of determined investors purchased the majority stock in a small Minneapolis firm, the Standard Telephone & Electric Company, and transferred its operations to Madison. Goliath, Bell Telephone, does retain its monopoly when it was able to obtain Dane County Telephone Company (DCTC) in January 1909. A severe ice storm extensively damaged telephone lines and the DCTC didn’t have the money to repair the damage, and was forced to sell its assets to the Wisconsin Telephone Company. (I did not include the entire story, you can read that for yourself here.)


In the late 1800's into the early 1900's Standard manufactured oak-backed, wall hung, crank-operated telephones such as those in our Collection. Our telephone system was an early 1900 inter-estate communication system; an early intercom system...and is sadly in dire need of restoration. Used at Grassland in Orange County, Virginia, the Faudree family operated a telephone company from the upper back story of the main home. It was not a large exchange, only about four to six connections. On the top shelf is the operator's exchange, and there are several phones below as well as a box of assorted parts and pieces.



"Grassland" was an estate owned by the Faudree's for several generations. Inside a small house-like building, they operated the U.S. Post Office (1912-1970) and a general store (1912-1972). In 1972, the Faudree's , 84 and 74, retired and closed their store. The Post Office was closed in 1968, when Mrs. Faudree turned 70. She had served as Post Master after her husband retired at 70 (US Postal Service mandatory retirement age).


The estate was auctioned in 2018. Unfortunately, it seems nothing is being done to preserve the estate.