Telephones came to Cooperstown very early in its history.  The Griggs Courier of January 25, 1884, reported that two telephones had arrived in town and would soon be installed.  A line would be strung from the Palace Hotel to the depot, and another from the Bank of Cooperstown to the Cooperstown Livery.

In about 1898 Andy and Charles Goff secured a franchise for a telephone system in Cooperstown.  At that time there were about 40 phones in town.  By 1900 there were 62 phones in town and the first rural line was extended to the Cooper Ranch.

In 1907 a switchboard was installed in the Van Blon building (now known as the Lende building) on Ninth Street half a block south of Burrel Avenue.  Other men joined the company that year and they formed the Griggs County Telephone Company Corporation, and prepared to extend service about the county.  The following year they acquired property for the telephone building in Binford.  A few years later they moved the Cooperstown Switchboard to the upstairs of the Peter E. Nelson Hardware Store.

Harold Brown went to work for the telephone company in 1907 and later that year was married to Clara Mabel Francis.  They were moved to Binford and both worked for the telephone company, Mrs. Brown as switchboard operator.  In 1909 they- returned to Cooperstown, shortly afterward went to McVille.  returned to Cooperstown where Mr. Brown was hired as manager in 1913.  In that year, several rural lines to the east, south and northeast of Cooperstown were sold to farmers' groups and were switched by the company for many years.  The last of these were bought back by the company approximately sixty years later.

The McHenry Telephone Company became part of the Griggs County Telephone system in 1923.  About this time Mr. and Mrs. Brown purchased the company.  Mrs. Brown became the manager and has retained the position to the present time.

Various improvements have been made over the years.  As early as 1926 several of the aerial lines in Cooperstown were replaced by underground cable.  About that time the office and switchboard were moved to the upstairs front rooms of the old First National Bank building.

The office remained there until dial service was installed in Cooperstown.  Then the telephone company moved into a new building to the rear of the bank lot.

Binford first had dial service in 1940, Cooperstown in 1942 and McHenry in 1957.

In the sixties and seventies more of the aerial cables were replaced with underground cables, and most of the system is now underground.

New buildings were completed in Cooperstown in 1971, and in Binford and McHenry in 1974.

The new buildings housed new equipment.  In 1974, subscribers of the Griggs County Telephone Company had available to them DDD (Direct Distance Dialing), EAS (Extended Area Service) serving the three exchanges, and a number of other new services.

In 1945 Willis Nilson and his wife Lucille, daughter of the Harold Browns, came to Cooperstown and started working for the company.

Harold Brown died in 1953 and his son, Gordon Brown of Enderlin became president of the company.  He had worked with his father from time to time since he was in high school, and had supervised the installation of the dial systems in Binford and Cooperstown in 1939 and 1941.

Gordon Brown and his two sons, Harold and Ray, have been involved in the Griggs County Telephone Company's most recent modernization program.  Harold is manager of the Western Telephone Company in Faulkton, South Dakota, and Ray is associated with his father at the Moore and Liberty Telephone Company in Enderlin.

Source: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976 Page 46


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