Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Indiana Condensed Milk Company


Photo: The Indiana Condensed Milk Company

The Indiana Condensed Milk Company of Indianapolis, IN, purchased the Bunker Hill Condensing company in March 1924.  Bunker Hill was Plant No. 6 according to the sign on the building, which was on North Washington Street.  This is where the new duplex apartments are located now.  Benezette N. Wilson, whose father and uncle founded the company, was the manager of the Bunker Hill plant for a number of years.

Arthur "Babe" Welch began working at the Condensery for thirty cents an hour in 1933 and worked there until 1952.  John Heuer began working there in 1937 and was there when it closed in 1953.





During the spring of the year, some 100,000 pounds of milk a day was received.  Long lines of wagons and trucks were on the highway waiting to unload.  Farmers took turns taking their milk and their neighbor's milk to town .  During this busy time, the Condensery operated seven days a week.





After going through several stages, the evaporated milk was canned and the royal blue label, Wilson Evaporated Milk, was attached.  It was packed 48 cans to a case and loaded on freight cars.  If a chain of stores ordered the evaporated milk, their label would be put on the can in place of the Wilson label.



The water used in the plant was piped across town from the dammed up portion of the creek on the northeast part of town.  The waste was dumped back into the creek on the southeast part of town.  This caused quite an odor.

During World War II, the plant was under military supervision.  The milk was put in khaki colored cans and sent to the troops.  A Corporal did duty here and once a month, and an inspector from the Army would come also for inspection.

A lot of women worked during the war because of the shortage of men.  Some of the work was hard and hot, especially when freight cars of coal had to be unloaded in the summer.  Men were paid bonuses to unload coal cars after working hours.  The supply of cans from railroad cars was unloaded into the second story by the women, which also was a very hot job.






--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, September 6, 2012. 

Newspaper Article - Feb. 6, 1931

February 6, 1931: Three members of the Commercial Club of Bunker Hill would confer with officials of the Indiana Condensed Milk Co. of Indianapolis on the closing of its "condensery".  The members were club President Carl Williams, Charles E. Drew and R. H. Hayes.  The trio would make every effort to keep it from closing.  The local operation had 25 employees.


Newspaper Article: July 23, 1953 - Indiana Condensed Milk Closes Plant
July 23, 1953: The local plant of the Indiana Condensed Milk Company will cease operations here on August 1, according to a notice to all employees and patrons which was posted this (Thursday) morning at the plant.  The notice reads as follows: After several years of a low milk supply at Bunker Hill, we reached a conclusion the fore part of this month that there is not now and is not likely to be in the future a milk supply adequate to permit the efficient operation of an Evaporated Milk Plant at this location...

...Twenty three men are presently employed by the Indiana Condensed Milk Company since 1924.  Most of the men are long time employees average being 48 with only four men being under 40.





You can see more photos of the Bunker Hill Condensery at http://s1368.photobucket.com/user/bunkerhillhistory/library/Condensery

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Provided by The Bunker Hill Historical Society

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Company F, 7th Illinois Infantry


Photo: Company F, 7th Illinois Infantry on Point Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, TN, June 17, 1864

The Seventh Regiment, Co. F, was from Bunker Hill and vicinity.  The regiment went into winter quarters at Fort Holt, Kentucky.

Hermann Smolinski was with the 7th infantry and wrote a letter to his wife here in Bunker Hill.  The letter was written in German and was translated into English just this past summer.

The letter reads in part:

Dearest most beloved wife,
  I hope that this letter will find you in the best of health.  As to me, I am, praise the Lord, in the best of spirits.  My dear and only Tarina, it is with great joy that I grab the pen so I can send you a few words of encouragement to set your mind at ease.  I'm sure you must have worried a lot in the the last few weeks.

My dear, dear Tarina, we have arrived safe and sound at our new encampment.  We had been on a march for six days where things were not under the best conditions.  During the first few days, it was cold, then it started to rain, which did not do much for our progress.  Despite it all, we are here now all hale and hearty.  We arrived here at Fort Holt on Sunday, January 19 in the afternoon at 3 o'clock.  That is all I can tell you though.  I believe that is enough to put your mind at ease, my dear beloved wife.  You can be at ease because your dear Hermann is well taken care of.

The letter goes on with some personal matters, but can be read in its entirety at the Bunker Hill Museum.
Hermann Smolinski's daughter was Barbara and she married Herman Oldenettle.  Bertha and Herman's granddaughter, Glenna Irwin, has given many things to the Museum, this letter was with a group of things from her great-grandfather, Hermann Smolinski.
After the battle of Lookout Mountain was fought, the mountain became a popular tourist attraction.  Many soldiers and civilians had their photograph taken specifically on the rock in the photo, known as "Point Lookout". 

In late 1863, Robert "Royan" Linn established a photo studio at Lookout Mountain and began taking photos of soldiers and civilians on Point Lookout.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 18, 2014.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Bunker Hill Masonic Lodge



Masonic Lodge #151

The Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, is the oldest, largest and most widely known fraternal organization in the world.  The Bunker Hill Lodge, No. 151, was chartered January 17, 1856.







 Dr. Albert Rodney Sawyer*
1st Master Mason
Lodge 151

Master Mason 1864, 1865, 1866
  • Initiated: April 5, 1860
  • Passed: April 12, 1860
  • Raised: April 19, 1860
  • Died: May 21, 1868 
*May 28, 1868 - On Thursday afternoon last, at One o'clock and five minutes, Dr. Albert Rodney Sawyer (former editor of the Gazette) calmly wrapped around him the robes of blessed immortality. (Stanton, Carl, ed. Bunker Hill Revisited: From the Files of The Bunker Hill Gazette and The Bunker Hill News. 1866-1881 ed. Vol. 1. Bunker Hill: Stanton, 2000. 43.)


In the 1920's, the Masons met in the second story rooms above the building on the northeast corner of Warren and Washington Streets.  During the 1930's the meeting site was changed to a room above the former Louie's Barber Shop on West Warren Street.  When this second story was destroyed in the 1948 tornado, the owner, Mr. Mercer, did not replace it.  By 1950, the Masons were able to buy the Drew property on the northeast corner of Franklin and Fayette Streets and build their own lodge.










...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org


--Cite this story: Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "Bunker Hill History." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, p. 151. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society.

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, November 20, 2014.

The Old Grain Elevator


The old grain elevator was located near the railroad track.  In the late 1800's, this was known as the Globe Mills owned and operated by Wise, Mercer and Co.  Today it is known as the M&M Service Co. or the Bunker hill Elevator.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 4, 2014.

1901-Bunker Hill Civil War Veterans


Members of the Hubbard Post No. 721 G.A.R.
Photo taken September 27, 1901

Top Row, (L-R): A. H. Bastian, Wm Neil, W. W. Goodall, G. R. Sutton, P. J. Marks, E. W. Hayes, R. Wood, John Brandenberger, Samuel Smith, Joseph Ward, P. Wiegand (deceased), Jacob Scheldt, Peter Jacobi, ??lip Simmermaker, J. P. Dove, Henry Schoeneman, Fred Haman, George Morrison. 

Bottom Row, (L-R): John C. Hayes, Fred Dabel, John B. McPherson, August Kardell, W. O. Jencks, ? Gillies, Abraham Scherfy, E. S. Williams, Peter Thielen.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Civil War Soldier's Memorial - 1869


The Civil War Soldier's Memorial - 1869
A monument to Civil War Soldiers was erected in the Bunker Hill Cemetery in 1866 at great expense to local contributors and was highly prized for many years.  It was the scene of patriotic memorial programs, including this one photographed in May 1869.  
Identity of some were noted by numbers, barely visible, on the individuals:
1)E. W. Hayes; 
2)Dr. Brother; 
3)W. O. Jencks; 
4)James True; 
5)James Feeney; 
6)James McPherson; 
7)Sam Smith; 
8)John Brandenburger; 
9)Clark Burton; 
11)John Knibb; 
12)Hans Hansen; 
13)Speaker; 
14)Mr. Eagleson; 
15)John Hayes.  
Photo from the collection of Frances Stadelman

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Provided by The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society.

The Bunker Hill Soldier's Monument




The Soldier's Monument
On November 11, 1865, the preliminary steps were taken for a soldier's monument to be placed in the cemetery in Bunker Hill.

The soldier's monument was erected in 1866 and is dedicated to the memory of the brave men who lost their lives in the Civil War.  For many years, Memorial Day military tribute has been paid to veterans of all wars in ceremonies held at the base of the monument.

On three sides are the names of the men who died in the Civil War, the place where they died, and the cause of death.

The work of putting back the fallen monument after the tornado of 1948 was done by Floyd Spickerman, James Vaughn, and Malvern Allen.  A gin pole, blocks and tackle, and plenty of rope was employed to hoist the heavy stones.  Burlap sacks were placed under the ropes to keep them from being cut on the sharp corners of the stones.  The big pieces, which caused the men no little concern, was taken up in five hitches, using a tractor for power to pull the two blocks hitched to a sling on the stone.  

The monument suffered rather badly in the tornado.  The center section, bearing a coat of arms, was broken on one corner and the lower spire and foundation was also chipped and broken.  The eagle lost a large part of its tail and left wing in its flight to the ground.

The engraving on the monument is:
To the memory of
The brave men
Who died in the service of their Country
During the war
For the suppression of the slave holders'
Rebellion of 1861
This monument is erected
by their fellow citizens
1866


...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story:  The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." BUNKER HILL GAZETTE-NEWS, August 23, 2012, sec. 1. Republished 13 November 2014.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Bunker Hill Armistice Day Parade - 1918


Armistice Day, 1918, a joyful occasion and the townspeople of Bunker Hill celebrated the ending of the "War to end all wars".  


Pictured are Bill Baker and Otto Brummer, who drove this flag-draped truck in an Armistice Day Parade.

While that day is gone and all but forgotten, it can be relived from the pictures taken that day.  They are the property of Mrs. Carl (Vivian) Roberts of Gillespie who was a young girl at the time.  She does not remember who took the pictures but that she did not for she wanted to be beside her mother, who was honored that day as one of the two leaders of the local Red Cross group.


The Red Cross workers gathered on Washington Street for their photograph.  Mrs. Thomas Baker and Mrs. Ed Campbell wore the red headgear because they were the local Red Cross leaders.  

Mrs. Roberts thought that some local residents might remember some of the people pictured and get enjoyment from them.  Most of her family pictures were lost in the two tornadoes, 1930 and 1948 which struck Bunker Hill.  Most of their pictures were lost at that time.



  


The Baker residence (Mrs. Roberts maiden name was Baker and she was a sister to "Bill" and "Tommy" Baker) was located on South Washington, and after the second tornado, the location was given to Thomas Baker, who built the Sharon Theater there and which is now the location of Bunker Hill Auto Parts.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story:  The Bunker Hill Historical Society, "Photos Taken During Armistice Day, 1918 Parade in Bunker Hill" The Bunker Hill Gazette-News 29 January 1986.
   

Armistice Day


Pictured are Bill Baker and Otto Brummer, who drove this flag-draped truck in the 1918 Bunker Hill IL Armistice Day Parade.

Veterans' Day is an annual holiday held every November 11.  World War I ended with the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918 between Germany and the Allies, together with the United States.  In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans' Day and dedicated it to the sacrifice made by all United States veterans.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill Historical Society, "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." The Bunker Hill Gazette-News 06 November. 2014.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Lee and Arthur Sutton - Railroad Mail Clerks


Lee Sutton was a mail clerk on the New York Central Railroad.  In the front door of the train, pictured is Lee and the rear door is his brother, Arthur.  Both went into the mail service in 1904.  Arthur quit to farm in 1912 and Lee stayed on for 18 years, then transferred to a rural carrier to 12 more years.  This train was going to St. Louis or coming from Indianapolis, IN.  This train also served as the milk train and ran daily from Mattoon, IL to St. Louis, Mo.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, October 30, 2014.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lighting from Lamplighters to Electricity


Photo: Bunker Hill Electric Light Plant, west side of Putnam at Morgan St.

Twenty-five street lamps were purchased in October of 1876.  The first Bunker Hill lamplighter was Thomas Larmer, who was awarded the contract to light and take care of the lights at 70 cents a lamp.  Eddie Carroll was a lamplighter at one time, and John Brandenburger was lighting and caring for street lights in September of 1879.  The lights were on posts and the lamplighter carried a short ladder with him as he made his rounds to light the lamps.  At 11 p.m. each evening he went around again, climbing up the ladder and blowing out each light.

On January 6, 1892, the City Council met to hear an electric light agent talk about installing a lighting system for Bunker Hill.  They discussed the possibility of the city purchasing a light plant or of drawing up a lighting contract with a company.  The system was to be purchased and controlled by the City Council at an estimated cost of about $12, 000 to $15,000.

The business portion of the city was to be lit by electricity by August 19, 1896.  The work was to be done by the Bunker Hill Foundry and Machine Works, under the direction of Mr. John R. Richards.

During the last week of September 1896, the incandescent lamps for the subscribing business houses arrived.  The night the lights were turned on throughout the entire circuit, giving the places illumined a handsome appearance.

An election was held in June of 1898 for the issuing of $7,000 in bonds for the building and operating of an electric light plant to be operated by the city.  The issue carried by a small majority of 116 to 92.  By November 29, 1898, the new electric light plant was ready and the lights were lit at 5 o'clock.  Bunker Hill was now illuminated every night!


By January 1899, the work of stringing the wires for lighting the residences was progressing as rapidly as the weather would permit and it was expected that by the first of the month those who desired to have their homes lit by electricity would have it.  Four hundred lights were estimated to be put in residences in 1899.  It was the cheapest and most convenient light a person could have in his home at the time.  After February 1st, the plant was to run the incandescent current all night.  There was no electricity at night before this time because the plant did not run at night.

The plant was located on Morgan Street on the west side of Putnam street junction behind Baker's feed store.  Ed Marth was the engineer at the electric plant.  Abbie Landon's father, George, was a fireman and Abbie's uncle cleaned ashes out of the boiler room.  A large concrete pond behind the plant supplied water to the steam boiler and generators.   If any malfunction occurred in the system due to lightning, ice on lines, or other causes, the system was maintained by Bill Baker, a local electrical lineman and electrician.  When a large transformer near the plant was blown out by lightning, Bill Baker could be seen in raincoat and boots fixing the transformer.  Many improvements were made as the years progressed.

On January 10, 1952, the Bunker Hill City Council voted unanimously in favor of installing a new street lighting system in the uptown business area.  The proposal was presented by the Illinois Power Company in conjunction with General Electric Company.  The system would provide white incandescent lights with steel, concrete or wooden poles (whichever was available) to be installed to hold the lights.  On streets feeding into the main stem, wooden poles would be used.  

The city street lighting committee placed an order for 46 new street lights on Tuesday, January 24, to be installed in the uptown area by the IPC.  the power company was to secure all materials for the project and would own and maintain the system after installation.  The city was to be billed monthly for the lights.

In order to extend the project considerably from the original plans, a number of lights were paid for by churches and other institutions. The Congregational, Methodist, Lutheran, and Baptist churches each paid for one light, the school paid for two lights, and the Bunker Hll Vault and Monument Works, the First National Bank, and the Commercial Club each took responsibility for one.  With these organizations standing the cost of extra lights, the system expanded considerably from the 28 considered in the original plans.

The lights were to extend on Washington Street from Fensterman's Garage to the Condensary corner.  On Warren street, the light extended east to the Lutheran Church and three lights on West Warren; and on Fayette Street east to the Masonic Temple and three lights on West Fayette.  There were two additional lights on the street past the Baptist Church and two on the north and south street past the Congregational Church.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story:  Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "City Growth." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, 23-24. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society.

The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, September 27, 2012.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ham Radio Operator W9KQL Assists in 1948 Tornado Aftermath


March 19, 1948 - Tornado Devastates City of Bunker Hill, IL

80% of Bunker Hill was destroyed causing 19 deaths and approximately 165 injured.  Reported damage of 1 1/2 million dollars was left in the tornado's wake at 6:45 a.m. H. F. Lund of Springfield set up a ham radio in the middle of Bunker Hill IL and relayed information to radio stations around the state.  H. F. "Buzz" Lund was FCC licensed as Amateur Radio operator W9KQL. He was a member of the Springfield, IL  Amateur Radio Club and also an active member of the Red Cross.  His son, Thomas "TJ" Lund is also FCC licensed as N9PFC and now lives in Champaign, IL.


The following is a reprint of the March 25, 1948 Bunker Hill Gazette News article...

Terrific disaster descended on Bunker Hill at 6:45 am Friday morning when a tornado ripped through this 112-year old city, taking a toll of 19 dead and 126 injured, and left a tumbled mass of wreckage in its wake.  The storm rolled over the business and residential area like a giant steamroller smashing brick and frame structures like paper boxes, laying 80 percent of the city waste and caused damages estimated at 1 1/2 million dollars...read entire article reprint at  http://www.bunkerhillhistory.org/Tornado.html

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Societey

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Bunker Hill Drum Corps - 1900


Bunker Hill IL residents took their politics seriously at the turn of the century with "torch" parades, speeches, and tirades in the rival newspaper columns and the election of 1900 was no exception.


Republicans formed a "Drum Corps" which paraded and played in Bunker Hill and surrounding communities.  They are pictured here in front of one of the hotels, probably the "Monument House".  Note the placard with McKinley's picture.



During that same campaign, Theodore Roosevelt, Republican candidate for Vice-President, made a ten minute stop in Bunker Hill and spoke from his special railroad car....


see posting at http://bunkerhillhistory.blogspot.com/2014/10/governor-t-roosevelt-visits-bunker-hill.html

From Bunker Hill Revisited
Volume 3
Sept. 12, 1900
A republican drum corps has been organized.  Much practicing has been in vogue of late and as a consequence the boys are getting into shape to head the procession.  Several new drums have been ordered and when they arrive will add to the efficiency of the corps.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

---Cite this story: Stanton, Carl, ed. Bunker Hill Revisited: From the Files of The Bunker Hill Gazette and The Bunker Hill News. 1892-1900 ed. Vol. 3. Bunker Hill: Stanton, 2000. 324. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society

The Bunker Hill Band - 1905


Photo: Bunker Hill Band

In 1904, Mr. Jansen took the Bunker Hill Band to the St. Louis Worlds Fair to play on "Bunker Hill Day"

The Bunker Hill Band around 1905.
Left to right:
Back row: Henry Cardell, Honas Fahrenkrog, Sam Lee, Pete Neil, Charles Hendricks, William Cardell, Joe Lee, Lute Jansen.
Front Row: L. Pates, W. Wood, Albert Goodwin, Lemuel B. Smith.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society

1901-Civil War Veterans - Bunker Hill IL GAR Chapter


This group of Civil War Veterans was part of the Bunker Hill IL GAR Chapter and was photographed September 27, 1901.  There are two sets of identification where the picture appeared in newspapers at different dates, however we believe the first listed here is correct.  The names were for the most part prominent in Bunker Hill in the post-war period.  They were photographed in front of Jenck's Livery Stable.  

Pictured from left to right:
Top row: A. H. Bastian, Wm. Neil, W.W. Goodall, G. R. Sutton, P. J. Marks, E. W. Hayes, R. O. Wood, John Brandenberger, Samuel Smith, Joseph Ward, P. Wiegand, Jacob Scheldt, Peter Jacobi, Phillip Simmermaker, J. P. Dove, Henry Schoeneman, Fred Haman, George Morrison.
Bottom Row: John C. Hayes, Fred Dabel, John P. Mcpherson, August Kardell, W. O. Jencks, John Gillies, Abraham Scherfy, E. S. Williams, Pete Thielen.

The other version:
Top row: Bastian (the barber), William Neil, William Goodall, Dr. Milton, E. W. Hayes, Sam Smith, Brandenberger, John Ward, William Hill, Zimmermaker, Charles Apple, and Tom Woods.
 Bottom row: Capt. Wheeler, Mr. Dabel, John Mcpherson, Tom Sanders, Squire Jencks, Papy Ellis, John Sherfey, Capt. West, and Buck Pete.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Woodburn Mutual Telephone Company - 1908



Woodburn Mutual Telephone Company
John Newton Barnes was President and Director of the Woodburn Farmers Mutual Telephone Company, a cooperative venture which he organized and installed.  The Woodburn Mutual Phone Company was formed in 1908.  In its earliest days, only one or two phone lines were strung on hedge poles along the main roads.

At first, one customer could phone and talk to another by ringing from their home directly to the other.  This could be done so long as no one else was on the line.  With this system, a switchboard operator was not required, however, one existed at the central office for directing calls to more populated areas.

The central office of the Woodburn Telephone Company was in the Welch Store located on the north side of the Public Square (Block 2, Lot 6).  When, on July 1, 1920, the store was destroyed by fire, the telephone system was moved to a private home.  This was in the southeast room in the Charles Stockwell home.  Charles and his daughter, Grace Stockwell Payne, ran the office.  They carried on home activities but were there to answer calls on the large, old switchboard.  John Newton Barnes cared for the lines at $60 per month. 



The office was later moved to the east room of the Froebel House (Lot 3, Block 10), property now owned by Frank Scroggins.  The room was furnished with a coal stove and bucket, coal oil lamp, a washstand with a wash pan, a single bed, the switchboard and chair, and a chair for the customer.  At a later date the office was moved to the present site and a new, smaller switchboard was added.  This office provided a wall telephone on the south wall for customers.

The wages were $30 for the day and night operators in the summer and $35 in the winter.  The extra $5 was for coal.  The work shift was from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. andd from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m.

By 1940, the coal was furnished and the wages started at 15 cents an hour for the night operator.  The day operator got more because part of the night shift, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. was considered the sleeping hours and the operator would hve little workd.  Later the wages were raised to 50 cents an hour.



The first telephone was a Kinloch phone.  The switchboard looked like an upright piano with plug jacks in the front.  The operator would plug into the party line that the customer asked for.  The signals were longs and shorts and each customer had a different signal.  there were eight people to each party line.  An example of the numbers or rings was (S was a short ring, L was a long ring): SSS - LSL - LLSS - LS - LSSSS.  The operator rang or "cranked" these combinations.  Each customer knew their number, as well as the number of everyone on his line.  You would listen for "your ring" and answer the phone.  Because the phone rang at everyone's house, this provided a means of listening to other phone conversations simply by lifting the receiver.  This was called "piking".  Some never missed a conversation.

Shortly after the Midland Telephone Company bought the company in 1960, a severe storm came through and knocked down many of the phone lines.  The new lines were laid underground and there were again two lines to Bunker Hill.  The large party lines were gradually changed to smaller party lines until on March 1, 1976, everyone had a one-party line.

The company switched to dial service on November 2, 1967.  Because everything was automatic, the need for operators was eliminated.  Some people who served as operators at varous times were Grace (Stockwell) Payne, Mayme Smith, Dorothy (Welch) Fite, Winifred Partridge, Lola (Payne) Zarges Hallows, Dorothy (Payne) Jarden, Cleda Johnson Gray, Edna Chadwich, Lucille Partridge Fensterman, Anita Partridge, Nellie Jo Walter, Ros (Show) Callahan, Ruth and Cleda Bouillon, Irene Lawton, and Cecile Sweet.

There were two lines to Bunker Hill.  A record of the long distance calls was kept on little pads so that tickets could be given to the customers.  When Bunker Hill Mutual took over, there was only one line to Bunker Hill.  You could talk three minutes and then you would be disconnecdted.  If it were an emergency, you could dial through to the operator for three minutes free.  Because there was just one line, it was difficult to get calls through.



In December 1989, Midland Telephone Company, along with the Inland, Lakeside, and Prairie companies, became a subsidiary of Rochester Telephone Company out of Rochester, New York.  In 1991, all of the equipment was changed for more up to date equipment and new lines were installed at Woodburn in September.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story:  Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "Woodburn History." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, 16-17. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society.

The Bunker Hill Telephone Company - 1898

Photo: Switchboard Operator - Loretta Bartels

The Bunker Hill Telephone Company 
The Bunker Hill Telephone Co. was organized by Charles Drew and James Jencks on April 13, 1898, with eleven stockholders and a capital of $2,500.00.  Later the capital stock was increased to $15,000.00.

Some of the eleven stockholder in the Bunker Hill Telephone Co. were: James Jencks, C. E. Drew, S. N. Sanford, Wm. Dickie, C. J. Jacoby, Max Sessel John Neil, Adolph Bumann, and Mrs. Wm. Dickie.


Over the next few month there was a large increase in the number of subscribers.  In August, 1900, the phone company put in a new switchboard, which brought the capacity of the new exchange up to 100 phones.

About December 1, 1928, the Bunker Hill Telephone Co., including the property was sold to the Community Telephone Co. of Chicago for $18,000.00.  This company also owned the Carlinville, Gillespie, Virden, and Girard exchanges as well as 49 other telephone properties in the state.  They also had interest in a number of waterworks systems.



The telephone operators in 1955 were: Doris Miller, Loretta Bartels, Melba Allen, Etta Goodhaus, Jeanette Thorpe, Gertrude Emery and Barbara Girth.


The local telephone office was located where Sally's Cafe is now.  It closed in 1955 when General Telephone switched to the dial system.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story: Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "City Growth." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, 24. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society.

The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, November 28, 2012.