Highland News Leader

A Thought to Remember: Highland Telephone Co. had 600 subscribers by 1916

Dr. August Beck of Marine died in 1834. The family moved to the new village called Highland. (Reread by column of May 14, 2015 for the original story of the Becks. We will continue with a grandson, Franklin Beck.)

“Franklin Beck (1867-1911) was a barber on Main Street. He had his shop in the front room of his home and also had the Central Union Telegraph Co. franchise and telephone switchboard in his home.”

Julius J. Spindler, in his Highland writings in 1970-1975 on Pages 16-19, wrote about Franklin Beck and his telephone franchise. Spindler called it the “Bell Telephone Franchise,” but when it was started in Highland in 1881, it was the Central Union Telegraph Co. (Reread my column of Dec. 4, 2014.)

Spindler writes: “The Bell Telephone exchange (no, it was called Central Union) was just cross the street from the plumbing shop of A.P. Mosiman. When Franklin Beck wanted to retire, Mosiman and five of his friends, Mike Matter, John Stokes, Carl Pabst, Louis Kuhnen and Berns Duane Tibbetts, purchased the home and telephone franchise, with just 88 customers.

“In 1908, they moved the telephone franchise, switchboard and office to the Mosiman’s building, just across the street.

“The Central Union telephone soon had some completion in Highland, as the Farmer & Merchants Co. A Kinloch auxiliary telephone company was started just a few years later. Many of the businesses had both phones, but this was not enough revenue to make the businesses profitable. In 1909, Mosiman and his five associates, plus Philip Baer of St. Jacob, purchased the Kinloch franchise and merged it with the Central Union Telephone franchise and changed the name to Highland Telephone Co.

“They had 600 subscribers by 1916, with Bert Virgin, the manager and Miss Emma Friederich, in charge of the switchboard ‘Hello’ girls. They operated at a nice profit for many years then along came General Telephone Co., and they sold at a handsome profit for Mosi and his associates.

“The group of Mosiman iInvestors had sold the Franklin Beck home and barber shop to Stelzer of Blackjack, Ill., who built the first garage in Highland. The garage was built entirely of rough sawmill lumber. Stelzer Garage sold Ford and Cadillac autos and his son, Erwin, was the head mechanic.

“Erwin later moved to Cairo, Ill., he was a successful Cadillac dealer. The Stelzer Garage was sold to Fred Buettikofer and Bob Wasserfall.”

Later, the Stelzer building was removed and “Hap” Hartmann built the brick building for his bowling alley, then it became Michael’s bowling, and today Royal Office Supply on Main Street.

Now, back to the Beck & Bro. Sodawater works, as it becomes Highland Bottling Works.

The Sesquicentennial book of 1987, Page 15, tells about the “Highland Bottling Works” of Joseph Wick.

“The old Anton Mueller and Jacob Weber Sodawater Works became the Beck & Bro. Sodawater Works of Alexander and Alfred Beck, the step-sons of Anton Mueller. They continued to operate at the west end of Broadway for many years and then the business was purchased by Joseph Wick (one of the Wick brothers that had started Wicks Organ Co. in 1906).

“Joseph Wick had put up a frame building located in the alley at 8th & Mulberry for his Highland Bottling Works. In 1919, Joseph Wick sold his Highland Bottling Works to William and Cleda Gindler. (Their son was Jim Gindler, a classmate of mine at Highland High School.)

“Gindler, in July 1928, sold to Herbert ‘Cack’ and Lucille Schmetter. (Their son, Charles Schmetter, was also a classmate.) After the death of Herbert Schmetter, Lucille sold the business in May 1934 to Ernest Buchmiller, and he built a new frame building in 1940 at 810 Mulberry Street. Ernest died in 1965. Then his wife Irene and his son, Donald B., continued the business.

“Don purchased the Highland Bottling Works in 1968 and operated until 1984.” (Thanks, Don, for your information.)

The building was purchased by the Findleys and turned into a restaurant.

“Fred Pagan, in 1893, also had a soda factory in Highland on 13th Street.”

I have a sales bill dated Nov. 16, 1893 from: “Fred Pagan, Soda water, Raspberry & Cream soda, Ginger Ale and Seltzer.” The bill reads, “Three boxes of soda @ 60 cents each and delivery, total $2.30”.

The Brief History of the City Highland, on Pages 17 and 18, tells more about the Pagan soda factory.

“It has a capacity of 175 boxes of 24 one-pint bottles each day. Fred Pagan is the proprietor and is assisted by his son and a couple of employees.”

(Quotes are from the 1850 Census of Madison County, 1866 Gazetteer of Madison County, 1893 Brief History of the City of Highland, centennial and sesquicentennial histories of Highland, the Pagan sales bill, and my Mueller, Weber and Beck files.)