Lee County
Newspaper Articles

The Telephone
Comes to Dixon

The word "hello" took on a new meaning in Dixon in 1881. It became the invitation from one person to another several blocks or miles away "to start the conversation".

It was July 14, 1881, that the Dixon Telegraph announced: " The telephone apparatus has arrived in our city."

Alert to the dawn of a new era, the newspaper was quick to inform its readers on the uses of this new gadget and the proper etiquette for this "lazy man's friend."

Two weeks after the first telephone arrived here, a central office of the telephone exchange was located in the Western Union telegraph office with the operator, Mr. Gaffney, as manager.

On July 28, the Dixon Telegraph reported: "The poles are being located for the telephone wires that shall soon lace the city of Dixon like unto a bridal veil from depot to factory, and from grocery store to kitchen, and ere another week passes this lazy man's friend will be in full operation."

By August 25 of the same year, the Central Telephone Company had 44 telephones in operation in the city. Miss Leona Mead was the day operator and John Mattox worked at the central office at night.

This central office was located next to the Dixon Telegraph offices, and on that date, the editor said in his newspaper: "The system was in working order yesterday, and all day long we could hear from the central room, which is next to our office, the dropping of the shutters from the numbers, and the "hello" "Wahts Wanted?" "All right" " Go Ahead" of the operator.

"As it is a lady's pleasant voice, it is all right; were it a man's we would want a thicker partition between us, or the man shot before the week's out. A sonorous bell will awaken the night operator, who has a bed in the room"

For those who knew little or nothing of the new "aparatus," the editor stated: "Leave your ear trumpet hanging until you have rung and received an answer from the central office. Tell them whom you wish to be connected with and when through, ring them to disconnect you."

When the Dixon Telegraph was among the first to have a telephone installed, the number assigned to the newspaper was "Number 5," which was retained for almost 70 years, until dial phones were installed in the city.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 01 May 1951

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