A.L. WELLS began working for the Telephone Company and began the Brewster Company by installing two phones, his own and one more. In 1905 he announced that the correct time and the passenger train schedule could be obtained from central.
In 1906 a new telephone line was put in operation under control of the Brewster Telephone Company. It had six subscribers, D.F. HARTMAN, J.H. OBER, Michael CROSS, Chris AMUNDSON and Albert BAUMGARD. Work on other lines was pushed and soon many rural people could equal the town’s supply of this added convenience. A new line north of town included Ira SAMPSON, F.J. OPPEK, Nick HARTMAN, H. KISNER, P. WICKLUND, A.H. ANDERSON, Mrs. BRUNK, Adam BAUCHLE, John GILOMEN, Will BUSCH, Frank BUSCH, Joe BUSCH, Adam RUCKELSHAUSEN, and Lars PETERSON.
Northwest of town customers were C.F. KOEP, D.E. HARVEY, G. CASPER, Charles PETERSON, Herman PINZ, E.W. SCHARPING, P.H. MCCALL and Craig HEGLER. A line to the southeast went to Duncan MCNAB, T.K. OLSON, Ed STARNER, Henry STUDE and Harman GRUVER.
The telephone office was first located in E.Y. WILSON’S Drug Store. Early operators were Miss Leafie JOHNSON and Maude MCCONKEY, Gusta HOKLE (Mrs. M. MCCARVEL) also helped while at the drug store.
Up until November Mr. WELLS farmed and worked for the Telephone Company but by November 1906 the telephone business was so rushing he was forced to quit farming and give the “Hello” business all of his time.
In 1907 the telephone office was moved from the drug store to a room upstairs in the present KRUKEMEYER building. A new switch board was set up with Mrs. J.S. RANDOLPH the new operator. A booth was put in the printing office for use during business hours.
The ‘Tribune’ was also housed in this building.
New lines were put up in all directions. A new Co. known as the Brewster Round Lake Company began to build lines in Ewington township. Times were no different in the early years than they were in our day when the dial system came into use and the people meddled with the telephones. A notice was put in the ‘Tribune’ May 24, 1907, reading thus: “During the past two weeks a fellow who appears to have more wind than brain has been seriously interfering with the service on line H. He is known to the manager and will strike a bad snag, if he doesn’t cut it out.”
In the next years the Hello Girls included Elva OBER, Lena BAUCHLE, Ida BAUCHLE and Nellie SALSTROM.
In 1908 Mr. WELLS opened an office over the Hardware Store for telephone company business and all patrons were cordially invited to walk in and take an easy chair and help themselves to cigars, tho I am sure the latter invitation came from the editor. The hours at the Central office from April to November were 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and from November to April 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The office was closed for twenty minutes at noon and at supper time.
In 1913 contractors John BESSER and John SORENSON repaired the stairs to the telephone office. This was an outside stairway, on the side of the building toward JOHNSON’S.
Mrs. E.H. RICHMAN, assisted by Miss Minnie KOSTER, took over when Lena and Ida BAUCHLE resigned. When RICHMAN’S moved to Colorado, Mrs. Mary KATUS assisted.
In 1914 Mr. WELLS resigned as manager to be replaced by H.F. CASTOR. At that time a new telephone directory was printed having Brewster numbers in one section and Round Lake in another. After 44 years, we still have the same directory plan. An 8-day clock was installed in the telephone office, quite an addition in those days.
In 1917 Miss Geneveve WHITTMORE resigned as central. Mrs. Fred BRIGHT became the operator and moved into the living rooms of the telephone office. Mildred GRAY and Clara KNUTH assisted Mrs. BRIGHT. In 1918 Mrs. BRIGHT resigned as Fred was called to the army. Miss Kate KNOWLENBURG of Fulda came to Brewster for a short time but tendered her resignation to work in the variety store in Fulda.
Mrs. BRIGHT was called and came back to Brewster to take care of the office during 1918 and 1919.
In 1919 a Mr. MADSEN, repairman for Fulda Telephone Co., was moved to Heron Lake and a Mr. MITCHELL of Spirit Lake, Iowa came to Brewster.
In 1911 Andrew ALLEN worked for the company. Later operators included Mrs. Daisy PATRICK and Mrs. Ida MCCALL. In 1926 and 27 Mrs. BRIGHT again was operator, her helpers were Illa WEAVER, Marian ALLEN and Frances MCCHESNEY.
In November of 1927 Mrs. Ella CARTER of Round Lake took charge here. Mrs. Ray NELSON assisted her until she moved to Wadena.
Max SIMON, manager, was replaced by B.M. MCFARLANE. By l933 the Tri-State and Fulda companies were a part of the N.W. Bell system.
In the blizzard of 1936 Andrew ALLEN, our line man, had to walk 12 miles in snow up to his hips to repair lines. By this year the name of our company had been changed to the Tri-State Telephone and Telegraph Company with a new manager, Albert POSCKE.
In 1940 our businessmen’s association went on record as being against the Dial System because it would put our three efficient operators out of work. The three employed at this time were Mrs. Ella CARTER, Mrs. Lena OLSON and Oruel STAHL. Ellen Mae ASHMORE of Round Lake took Mrs. CARTER’S place when she was on vacation.
However, in 1940 a 14 by 17 foot tile and brick building to house the automatic equipment of the Dial system was built and the following year it was put into operation. No more did we hear the friendly voice of our local operators or could the small mischievous boys call her on Sunday afternoon while his parents were away to ask such questions as “How much are ant hides worth today?”
The present manager is S.R. JOHNSON, Windom, Minnesota.