The First Telegraph Message in Dixon
Western Union

Wednesday marked the Centennial Celebration of the first electrically transmitted message in the United States and Miss Esther Conley, manager of the local Western Union Telegraph Co. office, had an interesting exhibit at the offices on Galena Avenue - The first message sent from Dixon, by telegraph, on September 25, 1848. This was but four years after the historic message was sent over wires from Washington to Baltimore by Samuel Morse which read " What hath God wrought".

The first message sent from Dixon to Peru IL has been preserved and with the answer, is being exhibited at the local telegraph office. On September 25, 1848 operator Chadwick forwarded this message, the first to be sent from Dixon by electrical communication:

"Mr. Waugh, National hotel, Peru. Have two kegs liquor been left at your house and directed me - if so forward them - answer immediately - paid here. W.H. Lotshaw."

On the same date the following reply to this telegraph message was sent in morse code, was received.

"Have not received or heard anything of the two kegs. J. Waugh."

William C. Jones who is probably the oldest grocer in business today in northern Illinois was one of the early messengers for Western Union about 75 years ago. He stated today that Fred Watson was the first messenger to serve the Dixon office and he was succeeded by James Maloney who served for a short time after which "Billy" took over the duties. The offices were then located in what was then known as Pinckney Block, on the second floor which is now occupied by Skip's dining room.

The first messages he stated, where were dispatched from Dixon, were sent from the old Northwestern passenger station before the Western Union operated and established a branch office here. Messenger Jones recalls having delivered a message to Father John Dixon before his last illness. He served as messenger during the time of the bridge disastor when a second messenger was called into service and was hauled over the river in a boat to deliver dispatches on the north side while Jones continued on the South side.

The Dixon Evening Telegraph May 25, 1944

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