A Look Back To January 20, 1953

The Wyoming House on Railroad Street in Selma had one of the first telephone lines in Johnston County in 1900. On Jan. 20th, 1953 the first call was placed in Johnston County on a new rotary dial system.

Although the local train station had telegraph facilities early in Selma’s history, the first evidence of a local telephone system was in 1901, when Selma’s correspondent to the Smithfield Herald complained in his column that telephone poles & lines were in bad condition, were blocking streets & roads, tripping horses & hampering the movement of buggies.

In 1900, according to Miss Blanche Mitchener, a line from Raleigh through Clayton connected Selma. The Wyoming House was on this line. Mr. Ellis was in charge of the line, followed by Miss Mann, Miss Essie King, Miss Blanche Mitchener, Mrs. Nannie Bailey & Mrs. Mozelle Bailey, who remained Chief Operator until the system was changed to rotary dial.

By 1905, Selma was the linchpin for long lines, since every line had to be connected here. Until 1910, cutovers were made through the local switchboard. In 1910, American Telephone & Telegraph Co. moved crew & equipment to Selma because of the heavy call volume. Selma, New York and Atlanta were all classified by the company as No. 1 offices.

Norman Screws was in charge of Selma’s AT&T office in 1912. He was followed by John C Diehl, Charlie W Scales, Bernard Dubois, Howard Gaskill, James L McMillan, JS Carty and Ben Brantley.

By 1932, Selma’s AT&T office employed seven or eight men and eight or ten women.

The rotary dial system was installed in 1953.  On January 20th 1953, Stacy Canady, President of the Chamber of Commerce, placed the first call through the new rotary dial system.

The Selma AT&T office was terminated in 1962. Submitted by Carter Rabil