Your local phone company for over 100 years
The Monon Telephone Company was franchised to operate a telephone exchange in the town of Monon in August of 1900. Exactly when operation of the exchange began is not clear, but service was in use in April of 1902. James and Elizabeth Graves, the original owners of the company, transferred the company in 1914 to Alpha, Emma and Loy Christley. The exchange was bought by Claudia Warner, Oliver J. Warner, and Mrs. Floy A. Warner and incorporated in 1919.
In 1921, Thaddeus E. Hanway, the owner of the Monticello Telephone Company, purchased the Monon Telephone Company and in 1922, sold it to his son, Herbert T. Hanway. At that time, the exchange was located on the second floor of the two-story building on the northeast corner of Market and Fourth. The company employed seven operators and one lineman.
Until December of 1941, old local battery telephones were used, and the phone was cranked to get the local operator. This operation was made a part of the past in Monon when a new dial exchange located at 315 North Market Street was brought into service. This was the first independent telephone company in the nation to cut to dial with less than 400 lines and, because of World War II, was the last for several years. It was the first dial exchange in White County and remained the only one for many years.
From the dial installation in 1941 until the late 1950’s, long distance circuits were operated by the company to Monticello, Reynolds, Francesville and through Lafayette to the rest of the world. It was necessary to dial different codes depending on where a call was being placed in order to be on the correct circuit. This confusing arrangement was changed in 1960 when Monon became the Clearwater 3 exchange in the 219 area.
During business hours, the company employed an operator to handle all long distance calls when it operated its own separate circuits to the surrounding towns. When the operator was on duty, a call was placed by dialing her and giving her the instructions. She would then place the call and inform you when the connection was completed. In 1972, Monon subscribers were able to dial their own calls.
Notably, the company has had dedicated employees who have served the community well. J.B. “Butch” Wolf was chief lineman for 45 years; Lulu Maple was chief operator for 42 years; Ethel Richardson retired after serving as office supervisor for 22 years; Gene Franklin retired after serving 32 years as a technician. Today, Chuck Eide has more than 30 years of service as a technician, as well as Vicky Pearson who has more than 26 years of service as a CSR.
Four generations of the Hanway family have been in the telephone business in Monon-from Thaddeus E Hanway to Herbert T. Hanway, who was owner-manger of the company until his death in 1963. Thad Hanway, Herbert’s son, was assistant manager from 1949 to 1963 and then became manager until his son, Bruce Hanway, assumed those duties. Now, two sons of Thad Hanway are serving the company-Bruce as vice president-manager and Curtis as technician-lineman.