190114_PHONE

Rock County Telephone Company workers strike a pose in this photo taken around 1904.

Linemen for the Rock County Telephone Company pose for a group photo in about 1904.

The company was established in 1898 after Janesville businessmen put up $30,000 to get it started.

Janesville’s first telephone was installed March 1, 1878, according to the Rock County Historical Society.

The Rock County Telephone Company eventually had toll lines connecting all towns in Rock County and part of Walworth and Green counties as far east as Elkhorn and as far northwest as Brooklyn.

By 1901, the company had more than 800 telephones connected. By 1911, it had 2,240 subscribers and was advertising for more.

Phone service cost $1 a month, and rural residents could get phones for $1.50 a month.

People without phones “make unnecessary trips downtown” and “trust their luck” that they’ll never need a doctor in a hurry, the company said.

Owners of phones could call Footville, Edgerton, Evansville, Milton, Milton Junction and Orfordville for 10 cents for three minutes.

Richard Valentine—president of the Valentine School of Telegraphy—was general manager of the local phone company until 1915, according to the historical society.

On Dec. 1, 1921, the company was bought by Wisconsin Telephone Company, according to the society.

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