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491 Bond Rd.   |   Minford, Ohio 45653   |   740-820-3002
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10717 State Route 139
Minford, OH 45653 

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Every independent telephone company has something unique, something that sets it apart from the rest and makes it different. The Minford Telephone Company has a couple of unique aspects, and they both have to do with Alva J. Allen, who is himself unique.

Mr. Allen, part-time technical adviser and retired school teacher who has a long history with telephony and the Minford community, built a test board in 1958 when the company converted to dial operation. The new switching equipment came complete with a test board, but Mr. Allen decided to tailor-make his own test board.

Telephone Co 1st Bldg

The company operates two exchanges, Minford and Stockdale. Stockdale is about nine miles to the north of Minford, and in order to check ringing frequencies on the Stockdale lines or to get some idea of the nature of any trouble in Stockdale, a six-mile trip to the exchange building was the first step---until Mr. Allen built his board.

Now all lines in both exchanges can be intercepted, and lines reporting trouble can be monitored, directly from the main office in Minford.

Telephone Company Worker

"All those big companies think the little companies don't really amount to much," Mr. Allen says with a twinkle, "but I think we've got something pretty good here."

Some people around town think Mr. Allen ought to be called "Mr. Minford Telephone" because of his long association with the company. In fact, he was "shooting trouble" on the lines at the age of 17, not very long after the first telephones came to the community.

In 1911 the area had no telephones. The farmers got together and built their own rural lines, with 16 to 20 parties on a single line. Each mutual group bought its own line, elected its own officers and charged its own dues, usually about 25 cents a month.

In 1912, the Citizens Independent Telephone Company was organized in Harrisonville, which is now known as Minford. The name change is a small story in itself. When the C&O Railroad's tracks came through in 1914, railroad officials informed the town that there was already a town called Harrisonville on the railroad line and asked that the village's name be changed. The people responded by changing the name to Minford, in honor of the local blacksmith, whose daughter still lives in the village.

The first president of the Citizens Independent Telephone Company was Raleigh E. Bennett. Alice Gampp, the Minford company's present bookkeeper, is married to Albert Gampp, a grandson of Mr. Bennett. George W. Allen was the first secretary of the infant company. He held that office until 1940.

Also around 1912, the Stockdale community organized a telephone company, call the Tri-County Telephone Association. William Thompson was one of its first officers. For many years Ray Conkel served as secretary-treasurer of the company.

With the formation of these telephone companies, people on one line could talk to anyone on any of the other lines. Previously, without switchboards, each person had been restricted to those on his own party line.

Telephone Company Board

All party lines were originally one-wire grounded circuits, but when electricity was introduced to the area the power lines interfered with he telephone lines electrically. Some of the telephones on a line would mysteriously ring when no on was calling the number. So the telephone companies changed to two-wire lines. The five ringing frequencies, defferentiating the rings on the party lines, were also changed. Today power lines no longer affect telephone communications.

The Tri-County Telephone Association merged with Minford Telephone company in 1957. Stockdale has converted to dial in April,1959 eight months after Minford.

The Minford Telephone Company now averages five parties on a line, with a few lines in outlying districts having eight parties. That's quite a reduction from the old practice of having 16 to 20 parties per line.

There has been a net gain of 27 stations since December of last year, and a gain of 749 stations since 1960. The company has 1131 subscribers in an area of about 75 square miles in Scioto and Pike counties.

Current officers of the Minford Telephone Company are Howard R. Bennett, president; Donald Brown, vice president and John R. chatfield, secretary-treasurer and manager.

Mr. Bennett is also a supervisor of Detroit Steel, Portsmouth Works.

Mr. Brown is president of the Stockdale Volunteer Fire Department and a member of the Pike Dairy Service Board and the Agricultural Board.

Mr. Chatfield is district manager of the Social Security Administration in Portsmouth, and is a member of the Scioto County Social Workers Club. He has been a 4-H adviser for about ten years.

Dale Patrick is now the assistant manager of the company and has been named manager to be effective after the first of the year. He came to Minford from Indiana September 1 of this year with 20 years' experience in Independent telephony.

Minford is now connected directly with the Portsmouth tollboard, but in the past before conversion to dial, Minford had its own local and toll operators. For a few of the early years, a contract was awarded each year to the lowest bidder for the agent-operator's home, with the company moving the cabinet from house to house according to who submitted the lowest bid for the year.

Something else that ordinarily requires frequent rewiring is the fire reporting system for volunteer fire departments, but Mr. Allen whipped up the second of those unique aspects mentioned earlier to take care of the problem.

Commercial fire reporting systems need to be changed every time any of the firemen change or move. Their telephones must be specially wired for connection with the reporting system.

William Dodson, a Minford funeral director, thought up the idea, Mr. Allen built it, and they both patented it in 1963.

The Allen Dodson reporting system has two alarm sounds, both emanating from the fire house and audible all over town. The alerting alarm sounds a short signal at six-second inervals when it is activated by dialing the fire-reporting number.

Any of the volunteer firemen can go to any telephone, not just their own, and dial and intercept number. The first one to get to a telephone and dial will be connected with the calling party. After getting information on the fire, the volunteer decides either to take care of it himself, if the problem is small, or to get more men on the job. In the latter case, he dials another number which will activated the general alarm, calling all the volunteers to the fire station.

The first fireman to get to a telephone will be the only one the caller talks to, unlike many other reporting systems. The other volunteers dialing the intercept number will hear a busy signal telling them the problem is being handled.

Only the firemen know the intercept and general alarm numbers. To prevent the dialing of the general alarm number by pranksters or by accident, the system has a built-in timer that keeps the alarm from sounding except within three minutes after the fireman is connect to the person reporting the fire.

The system has been in use for several years and works very well. It also has an additional advantage over comparable commercial systems---it costs less. A commercial system costs anywhere from $1000 to $1500, but Mr. Allen built the Minford system for only $50.

Incidentally, the caller doesn't have to wait long for an answer. All the volunteers race to get to a telephone before anyone else. Mr. Allen tells of one day when the fire chief was in the telephone company office paying his bill. The alerting alarm sounded. The chief dropped everything, ran around the end of the counter and grabbed up the telephone only to cradle it again.

"Drat," he said. "Somebody beat me to it."

The telephone company's test board and fire reporting system aren't the only improvements in Minford these days. The whole community is moving forward.

The citizens are planning a new high school and grade school, and are renovating the present high school building for conversion to another grade school.

Minford has also received the largest loan for a water system ever granted in the United States from the Federal Housing Administration. To be completed by early spring of next year, the system will bring water from wells in Lucasville.

The Lions Club and the Garden Club are jointly doing their part to add to the beauty of Minford by building a roadside park on route 139, on state-owned property left from a highway relocation project.

The Minford Telephone Company has more improvements of its own planned. Now in the mill are negotiations for extended area service between Portsmouth, 17 miles to the south, and the Minford and Stockdale exchanges. Direct distance dialing would also be a feature when EAS is added.

The company is also adding new switching equipment which will have called party holding, and on busy lines there will be an indication, such as a single beep, which will let the party know that someone is trying to call him.

Scheduled for 1969 is proposed cut to one-party lines for all subscribers. The company is also in the process of converting to full machine billing, which should be operational by the February, 1968, billing.

The Minford Telephone Company is keeping pace with its community and will continue to provide the best possible service to its subscribers, in the best "Mr. Minford Telephone" tradition.


Newspaper Articles 

The Portsmouth Times, October 26, 1912 
The Bell Telephone Company is busy at present moving the exchange from Ed Samson's to the home of Alex Shuter.  Consequently there will not be much talking for several days. 


Article in The Lancaster Eagle Gazette, June 11, 1974

The company serves 1,500 subscribers in two exchanges in portions of Scioto, Pike, and Jackson counties. 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has approved a rate increase for the Minford Telephone Company which would increase the company's annual revenue by $27,226.


Minford Telephone Company 

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