Monadnock Moments No. 26: The Cheshire County Telephone Company

The Cheshire County Telephone Company was formed in Keene in September of 1881.  Six local men founded the corporation that had $1,000 in capital stock.  Francis Faulkner, Jonathan Sturtevant, William Prentiss, George Piper, Samuel Nims, and J. W. Peck were the founders and original shareholders.
The purpose of the company was “using and renting electric speaking telephones, constructing, using and leasing the apparatus and lines necessary, and receiving and transmitting messages thereby; collecting tolls and fees for the same and doing a general telephonic exchange business in the city of Keene.”
On September 1st of 1881 the first telephone calls were placed between Keene and Marlborough and Keene and Gilsum to a single telephone located in each of those towns.  A ten minute call from Keene to Marlborough cost ten cents.
The Sentinel Printing Company was one of the first businesses to install a phone.  The company’s rental fee for the first year was $36.  This was paid for in printing services.  Calls were placed by name at that time.  Several years later the introduction of telephone numbers met with some opposition.
The Cheshire County Telephone Company continued to grow.  The amount of capital stock was raised to $3,000.  On January 1st of 1884 the company sold out to the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company for $24,000 worth of stock in that company.  J.W. Peck had transferred his stock to his partners by that time so that the $24,000 in New England Telephone & Telegraph was divided equally among the five other original shareholders.
At the time of sale to New England Tel & Tel it was possible to make a call in a fifty to seventy-five mile radius of the exchange, weather permitting.  The new directory issued by New England Tel & Tel indicated that there were some 400 telephones in use in Cheshire County.