When you enter our Taupe Room you will find lots of ways that we communicated and traveled in the 1800's. First you will see the train. This was wonderful as it opened the world up to the residents of Oakfield. Our main businesses - the United States Gypsum Company and Haxton Canning Factory really flourished when the railroad came. However, as time went on they discovered that the train hurt the little businesses - now people could go anywhere for the goods.
We are thrilled to have found a picture of the passenger depot, we had it blown up into a poster, this is the first picture we have ever seen.
Samuel Morse demonstrated his Telegraph in 1837 and devised the Morse Code - a system of dots and dashes used to send messages. He called this message a telegram. By 1850, the Telegraph lines connected the major cities in the East and the Midwest.
The Telegraph Office came to Oakfield in or about 1883, with the West Shore Railroad. The first telegraph office was located in the Oakfield Freight Station off South Pearl Street and messages could be sent to stations from Akron to Churchville.
Eventually the links were connected to a centralized Western Union Office, with communication lines to all the surrounding communities.
Telegraph poles down Main Street
One of the most common uses for telegraphs in the United States was for the railroad lines. Telegraphy made it possible to know when trains were leaving and when they should be expected to arrive, which in turn streamlined the railroad industry. Additionally, the military also utilized telegraph machines in much of its day to day communication. Initially, the cost to send each message was expensive, which meant sending personal messages by telegraph was not a common luxury that everyone had. However, the price did drop and the delivery rate of the messages also became more stable as it advanced.
Stringing Telegraph Wire
What they learned – often the hard way
-Wires stapled to living trees make very bad telegraph lines.. water & sap drain off the current before it travels anywhere.
- Poles cut from trees should be cut in the winter when the sap is out, debarked and dried before they are used. Otherwise water will get in, the current will drain off.
- The flow of electrical signals is not slowed by slack wires which dip between poles.
- copper wire can stretch, iron wire can rust, either can break Finding the right conductor and right gauge of wire to use in a difficult problem.
- You must brace a pole line on a curve.
- Whenever possible run the telegraph wires along a rail line or a roard because it is too difficult to negotiate with landowners.
- Some materials such as ceramics or glass as “insulators’ help the signals flow farther down the wire.
- Lightning can come into a railway station building and destroy the telegraph instruments.
- Some people like to shoot at insulators or throw rocks at them some people believe the telegraph lines hurt their crops and livestock
- First phone was in the Arnold House,
- September 1893, Hoffman’s Pharmacy installed a phone booth
- 1985 phone booth moved to Dr. Pugsleys’ Drug store across from Hoffman’s
- After fire of 1895, moved to Dr. Pugsley’s residence
- April 1896, move from Dr. Pugsley’s home to Brigg’s Drugstore
- January 1898, Bell Telephone installed a sound proof booth at Brigg’s store
- March 1899, Oakfield place in direct communication with Alabama Center, Wheatville and Indian Falls
- 1901, Milton H Wade of Franklinville promotes installing a phone system in Village, 50 customers needed $1.00 per month for business/ .50 per residence
- March 1901 Bell Telephone was granted the phone franchise. Central Office located in Brigg’s Pharmacy.
- January 1904, 50 patrons petitioned Bell for night and Sunday service.
- February 1906, Bell Telephone Exchange moved upstairs of the Griffin Building (Newell Worthington’s Meat Market)
- 1901 there were 50 customers by 1906 there were 250 customers
- Telephone company donated an electric fire alarm
- July 1914, The New York Telephone & Telegraph Company separated by order on the government into The New York Telephone Company and the Western Union Company.
- March 1917, Fireman hold meeting at Opera House to discuss purchase of alarm as existing cannot be heard but a few yards
We cannot forget the radio! This was one form of entertainment. The farmers would listen for the price of crops. The country would listen to the news. On Sundays many families listened to their favorite serials. Many remember their favorite station being interrupted to tell America that Pearl Harbor had been bombed.
Preserving local history!
Oakfield Historical Society
7 Maple Avenue
PO Box 74
Oakfield, NY 14125