by Jane Peterson
an early involvement in the development of telephone
service in the region and with the founding of Southern
New England Telephone. The first telephone call in
Branford was made in 1879 by Thorvald hammer from the
railroad station to Thomas Kennedy at the Branford Locks
Works. The two men later recalled that they both tried
to talk at the same time. Previous to telephone service,
errand boys were paid 20 cents to deliver messages.
Shortly after the Civil War a telephone was constructed
by Sylvester pond out of 40 feet of twine, two small
boxes and some chamois skin. This archaic device was
successfully connected from several houses to B.W.
Calkinís Store on Rogers street.
There was a
small Branford telephone office in 1888 located on
Rogers Street and the first Branford switchboard was
installed in 1895 serving 77 telephones which included
nine in Stony Creek and two in North Branford. Dr.
Charles W. Gaylord had telephone #9 and the Malleable
Iron Fittings Company #22. A toll call to New Haven cost
10 cents. By 1910 there were 513 telephones in town an
1948 over 73,000. SNET built a home at 17 Wilford Avenue
in 1902 for Branfordís telephone operator Emma Auger.
The Auger family occupied the home which included a
switchboard on the first floor. The fire department
alarm was hooked into the telephone system and it was
Emma who alerted the firemen.
the Branford operation to 896 Main Street in 1913 and
the downstairs was rented as a shop. The switchboard was
located upstairs, and employed 10 to 23 Branford women
depending on the season. Marguerite Monroe served as
Branfordís chief operator for over 35 years. When
Branford was converted to dial in 1949 the entire
switchboard operation was moved to New Haven. In 1947
SNET purchased the site of the former Center School at
the corner of Main Street and Harrison Avenue. This SNET
office building is still in operation today.
importance to the history of early telephony was Thomas
B. Doolittle, who owned Thimble Farms in Pine Orchard.
He began his telephone career in 1877 and started the
Bridgeport exchange. He joined AT&T in 1880 becoming the
first vice president. He designed the first switchboard
ever manufactured and held many telephone patents
including the use of hard drawn copper wire for
underground cable. The first transcontinental telephone
call was made by him in San Francisco to his family in
Pine Orchard through the Branford switchboard in 1915.
His son Charles B. Doolittle was one of the founders of
SNET and served as its secretary and treasurer for over