Peabody Singing Tower

 North Manchester, Indiana

Recipient of Indiana Historical Society's Awards--"2013 Outstanding Project Award" &
"2009 Outstanding Historical Organization".  Welcome to our web site!  Enjoy using this Portal to Our Past!

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Early 1880s
1890 Directory
1904 Advertisers
1920 Businesses
 Main St. 1923-1928
Beery Orchard
Blackmore Cigars
Cabinet Makers
Canning Factory

Cigar Factories
DeWitt Auto

DeWitt Building
Drug Stores
Excelsior Factory
Farm Implement
Flour Mill
Furniture Making
Grandstaff Rendering
Grove's Grocery
Hayes Motors
Heckman Bindery
Hotel Sheller
Howe Bait
Leedy Motor Co.
Louie's Candy

Mfg Industries
N.M. Airport
N.M. Foundry
Oppenheim-125 Yrs
Peabody Retirement
Peabody Seating
Planing Mill
Rex Windmill
Stickley Furniture
Telephone Cos.
Wagon Makers
Warner Brooder

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North Manchester
Historical Society
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Source: NMHS Newsletter Feb 1998

Hello, Central

A very early, if not the first telephone service in North Manchester was known as the Midland Telephone company with general offices in Chicago. A directory was printed in October 1882 by the Journal. This company's exchange was above Dr. F. S. Kitson's office The general manager was S. A. Argerbright. All subscribers had one or two number identification. Here is the total directory:

16 Argerbright, S. A., Residence
15 Arnold, Jesse, Manchester Bank
12 Brookover, W. L., Grocery
14 Barsh & Sala, Drug Store
32 Beauchamp, A. G., Residence
30 C.W. & M. Depot
9 Clemans, B. F., Office
13 Dunbar, Scott, Heading Factory
20 Eichholtz, P. & V. Planing Factory
4 Frame & Son, Hardware
44 Goshorn, D. A., Residence
43 Grimes, R. R., Hotel
3 Good, John, Saloon
41 Hoover, J. C., Hotel
7 Hopkins, S. V., Journal
38 Jennings, J. M., Grocery
22 Johnson, C. D. Livery
25 Kircher, Mrs. N. E. Residence
35 Leonard & Leonard, Grocery
33 Lower, M.O., Dr., Residence
45 Lawrence, G.W., Eel River V. Bank
34 Mills, H. Grocery
6 Martin, J. J., Residence
40 Monfort, J. Residence
8 Milliron, J. C., Residence
21 Noftzger, L. J., Hardware
48 Noftzger, L. J., Residence
49 Noftzger & Baker, Brickyard
28 Russel, L., Barber Shop
17 Schoolcraft, R. A., Residence
39 Sexton, S. Residence
31 Strauss & Shock, Mill
17 Strauss & Shock, Feed Store
26 Summerland & Mishler, Meat Market
36 Slusser, A., Restaurant.
50 Sellers, A. Residence
5 Stayer, W. H.
l Winton, Drs., Office
23 Winton, C. H. Residence
29 Winton, H. Residence
46 Wallace, J. R., Residence
24 W., St. L. & P.R. R. and Telegraph

One of the very early telephone companies to be formed in Indiana was the Rex telephone company of North Manchester owned by a person of that name. A charter was granted October 2, 1894 and the first line was put into operation between Wabash and North Manchester February 14, 1895. A competitor, the Eel River, was organized in 1901. Bertha Staver (later Guinnupp) was an early operator in North Manchester and later became the first operator in the Urbana exchange backed by her father, Emanuel. By 1907 Mr Staver had disposed of the Urbana exchange and bought the Rex of North Manchester company.
In March of 1920 the Eel River telephone company filed a request with the state board of public utilities for an increase in rates in North Manchester and Sidney. The rate for residences had been $l.50.
Here are the new rates on condition that payment is made before the 10th of the month:
Individual line, business­$2.50, Party line, business­2.25, Individual line, residence­1.60, Party line, residence­1.50, Individual line, rural­l.75, Party line, rural­l.50, Business extensions­.75, Residence extensions­.50.

The statement filed with the request showed a deficit for the previous year of $490. The only salaried officer of the company was the manager who received $1200. The value of the plant is listed as $85,000, and a new switchboard to be installed soon was valued at $25,000.

That new switchboard arrived and was put into the building January 12, 1921.
The JOURNAL said, "The Board is one of the most modern to be had, and will, it is said, correct many of the difficulties that has been encountered with the present board which has been overloaded. This with the underground cables that have been put into use this summer will greatly increase the service of the company."

Five years later the "only salaried officer" Lewis Signs left the company.
The JOURNAL headline said GOING TO QUIT AFTER 60 YEARS. The article said,
"Lewis Signs announced yesterday that he was going to quit work next week. He is not just sure what day it will be, but it is to be some time early in the week, and for once in his life he expects to get up jobless. He has been connected with the Eel River telephone company since 1901, working from that time until 1904 on the outside lines, and since 1904 he has been in charge as manager. Now at only 79 years of age he has concluded he is going to quit work for a few days, and yesterday flatly refused an offer for a new job to start early next week. There are few men who have been in steady service in North Manchester any longer than Mr. Signs. He came into town when but little more than a boy, going to work for George Lawrence, and has constantly been in business since that time, serving four years as postmaster. Now after only a little more than sixty years of active work he turns squarely around and says he is going to be jobless for awhile and see how it goes."

In May of 1926 permission was granted by the Indiana public service commission for the A & M Telephone company to purchase the Eel River Telephone company and the North Manchester Telephone company and to operate them with the Akron exchange. The petition had been filed in January and the A & M company had asked permission to abandon the North Manchester or Rex exchange and combine their business with the Eel River group.

The incorporators of the A & M company are Frank J. Zimmerman, Howard C. John, Valentine Lidecker and Horace Larrew. The total value of the properties this new company is seeking to buy is $236,329. The North Manchester company is valued at $15,000 and the Akron company $50,335, the Disko & Laketon company at $25,040. Then the A. & M. company proposes to sell $115,000 of its preferred stock to buy the Eel River and North Manchester companies.

The total capital stock to be issued is $375.000 - $200,000 in common stock at $100 a share and $115,000 in preferred stock at $100 a share paying 6 1/2 per cent interest. The main office is to be in North Manchester.

Source: North Manchester Journal, February 14, 1901

A New Telephone Company

It seems quite likely that this city will have two telephone companies in operation before long. The town heard at its meeting Monday night granted a franchise to the Eel River Telephone Co. to operate a general telephone exchange and it is understood that the new company expects to put in an exchange of the latest and most modern pattern. Whether the town will support two companies in this business, of course, remains to be seen but as it is understood the new company has very strong financial backing the competition will undoubtedly be quite lively and the people reap the benefit in an extra service. The maximum rate for 'phones as fixed in the franchise is $1 per month for residences and $2 for business houses. We have not learned how soon the new company expects to commence business.

Source: North Manchester Journal, April 11, 1901

 Its Business Growing

The Telephone Co. has issued a new directory in folder shape and much more convenient in form for use than the old cards that have been used so long. The new directory also shows a very handsome increase in the number of instruments, there being thirteen new phones on the list with a total of 180 subscribers, all of which we consider as good a showing as any company in a town of this size can make. Mr. Rex, the manager, is making a special effort to give the patrons a good service and particularly so in long distance service as the exchange has a wide connection through the independent long distance lines of this state and Ohio, reaching more towns at a less rate for messages than any other company. The telephone has become indispensible and the larger the exchange the more convenient and necessary it is to have an instrument. Read over the new directory and study the rules carefully.

Source: North Manchester Journal, May 16, 1901

TELEPHONES FOR FARMERS. Mr. O. Rex Informs Us His Company is Now Ready to Supply All Country Patrons.

In many parts of the country farmers are putting in telephones in connection with the local exchange and are finding them a very useful convenience. The telephone has not been extensively tried by farmers around this place, but the day is at hand when they will begin to put them in.

Mr. Rex, the manager of the Home Telephone Co., tells us that his company is now fully prepared to take care of this class of business and meet all demands. He has lately made some arrangements for the enlargement of the business and will be in shape to give all farmer patrons the same service that the patrons of the exchange are now getting. It is expected that during the coming season quite a number of farmers in the immediate vicinity of town will be putting in 'phones and of course as more take instruments the more will want them.

The Warsaw, Rochester and other neighboring companies are working on the same plan and have made a rate of $1.50 a month to farmers on a party line with not less than five 'phones. This is said to be the established rate for this class of business in nearly all parts of the state, but Mr. Rex tells us that he has decided to make the price only one dollar a month with not less than two telephones to the mile. The parties on the line will, however, be expected to bear the expense of constructing the line from the city limits. The rate is a low one and ought to bring many subscribers.