North Carolina-First Telephone-April 14

North Carolina People, Places, and Things-April 14

I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.

In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special.

My father worked for NJ Bell for nearly 35 years (1946-1981).  NewJerseyBellLogo

I was around conversations about the telephone industry my entire childhood. My dad was a repairman which meant part of his career was spent climbing telephone poles. Over his career he saw many changes in the technology of phones. He predicted at the New York’s World Fair in 1964 to me that I would see Dick Tracy like wristwatches be used as phones.

Apple Wrist Watchdick-tracy-wristwatch


I still collect telephone memorabilia including this wall phone which still has the dry cell batteries located inside it.


Telephones began to appear in North Carolina beginning in 1879, three years after invention by Alexander Graham Bell. On 10 March of that year, a telephone was installed in the office of B. W. Starnes, manager of Western Union’s Raleigh office.

Once B.W Starnes got a phone other local businessmen soon came to realize the instrument’s utility. On 20 Sept. 1879 the first North Carolina exchange opened in Raleigh, in the rear of the Western Union office at “Battle’s Corner,” the intersection of Fayetteville and Martin Streets. The enterprise expanded to 30 stations and remained in business only one year. During 1879, however, the first long-distance lines in North Carolina were erected between Raleigh and Goldsboro, and the first long-distance call in the state was made on 14 Apr. 1879 between Raleigh and Wilmington, NC.

Despite its popularity, however, the telephone industry was a for-profit business, and Bell and other large companies tended to concentrate in urban areas, where the capital investment needed for lines and equipment was lower and profits high. North Carolina was predominantly rural, and consequently much of the state was left without telephone service until after WW II.






One comment

  1. Cynthia Oxendine · · Reply


    This is interesting and takes me down memory lane…my daughter sang Reba McInyre’s song ‘Why Haven’t I Heard From You’ in the Little Miss Lumbee pageant at age 6. She’s getting married next month and her theme is Remember When…so she’s collecting old memorabilia to display…some interesting and unique stuff so far…nothing phone-related though. ☺

    1 University Drive I P.O. Box 1510 I Pembroke, NC 28372
    V: 910.775.4240 I F: 910.521.6272 I E:

    [Description: Description: cid:image001.jpg@01CF96D6.4EC42980]

    Catch the Spirit! I GO BRAVES!! I ‘83 I ‘94

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