An Independent Telephone Company Since 1909
History of State Telephone Company
State Telephone Company was incorporated on December 31, 1909. The original directors and incorporators, each of whom subscribed to one share were:
- Harrie McK. Curtis, Coxsackie
- Leonard A. Warren, Coxsackie
- Jasper K. Hotaling, New Baltimore
- Ernest L. Haight, Ravena
- Fred W. Bush, Ravena
- George W. Babcock, Ravena
- Lina M. Babcock, Ravena
State Telephone's forerunners are, to some extent, wrapped in mystery, but it is known that State Tel. was in fact an amalgamation of several rural and "farmers" lines. These were small partnerships or corporations which had strung some wire from farm to farm and then connected them to a switch in the villages of Coxsackie or Ravena, the switches often not being manned twenty-four hours a day.
One of the forerunners that we do know about was the Ravena and Medway Telephone Co. which was incorporated on April 27, 1904. This Company's stock was acquired by the various organizers of State and on May 20, 1910, shortly after State was formed, the two were merged. The merger certificate was signed by William Harden, President of Ravena and Medway.
At this juncture we believe State's territory was laid out to include the villages of Coxsackie and Ravena, outlying territory a few miles north of Ravena and south of Coxsackie and also the Town of New Baltimore in between. The Ravena lines extended west to Deans Mills, Coeymans Hollow, Alcove, Indian Fields (now under the Alcove reservoir) and Dormansville. The Coxsackie lines didn't extend westward as that territory remained in the service area of the Coxsackie Flats Telephone Company and the Coxsackie and Greenville Telephone Company. These two small companies owned and maintained two or three rural lines each, but each had access to the switching facilities maintained by State at Coxsackie. This arrangement, which was not entirely satisfactory from the point of view of customer service, prevailed until after World War II
Coxsackie and Greenville Telephone Company was incorporated on January 4,1907 and was dissolved on December 7,1945,on which date its assets and territory were taken over by State Tel.
Coxsackie Flats Telephone Company was incorporated on October 13, 1910 and was dissolved on May 9. 1946, when its assets and territory were taken over by State Tel.
As a matter of local interest, we have the original record of the Flats Company's organization. The signers of the original certificate, all local citizens were:
Between State's incorporation on December 31, 1909 and State's acquisition of the Flats Company and the Coxsackie-Greenville Company in 1945 and 1946, there was no change in corporate structure or territory served. Late in 1946 or early 1947, State relinquished to New York Telephone (Ma Bell) the extreme northwest corner of its territory at Dormansville. There were only two or three subscribers involved and their orientation was toward Westerlo rather than Ravena. Since then there has been no change.
- Michael Dolan
- Fred Hallenbeck
- Derrick Sutfin
- George Van Schaack
- Frank Jansen
- Bennet G. Townsend
- Peter S. Van Schaack
As with all small rural telephone exchanges, State Tel's offices at Coxsackie and Ravena were served by local battery switch units, manned by operators who handles all local calls and those long distance calls to places where they had direct long distance circuits, such as Albany, Catskill and Hudson. Subscriber phones were the crank type, meaning that to signal "Central" to make a call, a subscriber had first to turn the crank on his own phone. Party line users, of which there were many more than direct line users, were signaled by "code" ringing which was heard by all the other parties on the same line. Other than those inconveniences, the service was adequate and was, at least, no poorer than most other rural areas enjoyed.
So from 1910 until about 1930, State expanded its lines slowly but surely as more people became accustomed to telephones and their use. Like automobiles, what started as a luxury eventually became a necessity.
During the depression years of the 1930's, State Tel's growth stopped, but it only lost a small percentage of customers overall, as this region didn't encounter the catastrophic reversals suffered in the more industrialized areas.
During World War II, a backlog of orders built up which couldn't be filled because new telephone instruments and the other necessary wire and gear were not available. "Gone to war" was the standard answer in those days. Nor was the necessary manpower available.
However, the war ended and the Company faced its biggest problem yet, how to meet the big demand for more and better service, now everyone had money and everyone wanted telephone service.
State Tel's first move, a stopgap in 1945, was to acquire a used three position, manual switch unit for Ravena. This replaced the old two-position switch and permitted the Company to increase the number of lines in service from approximately 250 to 350.
Plans then went forward to convert the Ravena office to dial. This was finally accomplished in 1950. It had involved selection and purchase of a site, building a building, moving the main distribution cables from the old location to the new location, purchase of all new telephone sets (in whatever color customers had chosen beforehand), and of course, purchase and installation of automatic dial switching equipment with the necessary auxiliary equipment, such as batteries, power supply, alarm and backup power, not to mention the borrowing of money to pay for it all. This office on Main St. in Ravena is the main Central Office for Ravena 756 and is still service today.
Two years later, the Company went through it all again at the Coxsackie Exchange. By now the Company had grown to about 600 telephones. This office is on Mansion St. in Coxsackie and is the main Central Office for 731
In a few years the North Electric all relay switch units installed in 1950 and 1952 became too small and were replaced with Automatic Electric electro-mechanical types, which could be expanded more easily. These new ones were not available right after World War II when the original equipment was installed.
By 1986 the Company's switch units had become outmoded in that there were certain functions the old units could not perform. Now it was all "digital, digital", everyone must have digital switches. So again a big change was made, digital switches were installed in both Coxsackie & Ravena, their sophistication again made State Tel's equipment and service, state of the art.
One or two more items worthy of mention are:
- Starting in 1950, State offered color phones to all its subscribers at no extra charge, a first, we believe, in the industry.
- Beginning about 1960, the Company began to replace its aerial wires and cables which serviced customers outside the villages, with underground cables. This is a program by now far advanced, yet never complete.
- About the year 1965 the Company began to offer Extended Area Service (EAS) to all customers of the Ravena Exchange. This allowed those subscribers to dial Albany, Troy and Schenectady, as well as South Bethlehem, without payment of a toll charge.
- About 1979, a similar service for Coxsackie Exchange customers was introduced, permitting these subscribers to dial Athens, Catskill and Albany without a toll charge.
- 1984 AT&T is broken up as a result of deregulation of the industry and made a great impact in the way toll calls are handled and how toll revenue is calculated and divided. Before it was simple, all revenue was divided between State Tel. which billed it and New York Telephone and AT&T which furnished the long lines. Now we have several categories of calls, each handled differently, and including calls within New York State, calls within the 518 area, and calls outside New York State.
- 1990's State Tel. continues to invest in cable plant and network, offering new and enhanced services such as voice mail and enhanced 911.
- 1996 - State Tel. begins offering dial-up Internet service to a new thing called the World Wide Web.
- 2001 - DSL is introduced as the next generation of Internet access and the first generation of high speed or broadband Internet access.
- 2006 - State Tel celebrates its 1,000th DSL customer.
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