Skip to main content

Chestnuthill Township Historical Society learns about telegraph

Published March 30. 2012 05:01PM

Norman Burger brought a Chestnuthill Township Historical Society banner to the March 21 meeting of the Society. It had been used at the West End Fair, tractor show and Quiet Valley and will be used for the upcoming anniversary celebration.

Barbara Fritz Wogan reported she found 1,850 military people with a connection to Chestnuthill Township. She has been using

A 1932 Buffalo fire truck needs restoration by the West End Fire Company. The first step is getting an estimate, which will cost $400. Although the Historical Society does not have enough money to help, it was suggested individuals make donations with The Buffalo written on the check and delivered or mailed to the West End Fire Co.

Members can meet at the community center at 5:45 p.m. to car pool to Scott Stevens' sawmill on Frantz Road. The visit will be for the April 18 meeting.

A Saturday, June 23, yard sale will be held at the community center with both indoor and outdoor display areas. For the outdoors, vendors must supply their own tables.

A cleanup day has been scheduled for May 12, 9 a.m., at the Merwinsburg Hotel. Rain date is May 19.

Norman Burger said he bought some materials from the one-room schools and will donate them to the Society. He will be on the watch for other items to buy. The two presented were Souvenir booklets from the classes of 1897 and 1899 graduations at Dorshimer School. He said he wants to keep artifacts in the area because once they leave they do not make it back.

Dave Fleetwood said the parks, fire company and ambulance all need money and that residents should buy the reflective green addressing signs from the fire company to help both themselves and the organizations.

Joe Horn talked about his years with Western Union Telegraph. He said nothing had as much impact as the telegraph. Western Union is still in existence 161 years after its founding. Today its biggest business is money transfers.

Horn was a chief engineer at Moorestown, N.J., one of three major centers with the others in Bridgeton, Mo., and Reno. Since phone calls could be immediately switched from one center to another, there was no waiting for a phone to be picked up.

The Western Union computer kept watch over the entire country and was a prime source for news when anything big was happening. During the Civil War results of a battle were forwarded by telegraph before people could spread the word.

Horn said the three things that settled the west were the Conestoga wagon, telegraph and Pony Express.

Samuel Morse got credit for developing the telegraph but he was also noted as an artist, said Horn.

The early telegraph lines followed the railroads. Each cavalry unit had a telegraph with which they could clip into a line.

Some early dates in the history of the telegraph are 1861, transcontinental cable; 1869, stock ticker and clocks were corrected every hour because times tended to change in different locations; 1896, service to Europe, Africa and South America by undersea cable and in 1913 Western Union began the first charge card.

Newscaster Walter Winchell talked about the new singing telegrams. The idea was not liked by the company but by afternoon it had become a revenue producer. A singing telegram was sent to Pres. Jimmie Carter. The White House refused to deliver it and then had second thoughts thinking it may have been from Carter's wife Rosalynn.

Western Union was at the forefront of fax and telex services. In 1943 a microwave communication system was completed. Satellite service began in 1974 and undersea cables were no longer necessary. The early satellites were launched by Hughes Aircraft.

"I met many interesting people. The company encouraged nepotism but not between spouses. Western Union was a good employer with good benefits," said Horn.

However, since Chapter 11 bankruptcy was filed in 1987 some of the benefits were lost. All three major centers have been phased out. Immigrants make use of the telegraph to send money home because it is a safe method.

Classified Ads

Event Calendar


October 2017


Upcoming Events

Twitter Feed


Bombers get creative with parade floats

40.8014826, -75.6101867

Some of Palmerton’...

Man faces charges for shooting his dog

40.8014826, -75.6101867

Charges have been...

Extension hosts annual dinner

40.7986942, -75.8104747

The Carbon County Ex...

Reader Photo Galleries