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Telephone History

The Illinois Bell Telephone Company Pioneer Museum and Historical Committee provides a chronology of telephone service in Crystal Lake.  This was written in 1957 by the former Illinois Bell historian, R.L. Mahon.  Click here to read the history.

Phone books:

1908 - According to the Nunda/Crystal Lake Herald, 216 local telephones were in operation.  The June 4, 1908 Herald lists each of them.  Click here to view the list.

1913 - Click here to view an original 1913 Crystal Lake Phone Book.

1931 - Click here to view Crystal Lake listings

1936 - Click here to view Crystal Lake listings

1941 - Phone book includes listings from Crystal Lake, McHenry, Johnsburg, Pistakee & Woodstock. Click here to view.

1942* - Click here to view Crystal Lake listings with advertisements.

1943* - Click here to view Crystal Lake listings with advertisements. 

*Note: to keep file size down, only Crystal Lake pages are included.  Original book also includes listings for McHenry, Johnsburg, Pistakee & Woodstock.

1948 - Click here to view Alphabetical listing.  Click on links to view classifieds: Pages 1-36 / Pages 37-72

1956 - Click here to view Alphabetical listing.  Includes Crystal Lake, Burton's Bridge, Lakewood, and Ridgefield. Click on links to view Classifieds: Pages 1-52 / Pages 53-104.

The Early Days - through 1910

Beginning in April, 1880 Ira Mallory, the owner and publisher of The Nunda Herald (who also owns a mercantile store, sells insurance, stationary, and who know what else!), offers his what he calls a "Common Sense Telephone" (patent applied for).    This is a direct-connect system.  Click here for the sales pitch and also installation instructions.

A couple of testimonials about the wonders of the "Common Sense Telephone" were also published:

Dr. Watson says of his telephone (40 rods long): "I can hear my father's clock tick."

Mrs. Wheaton has one to her son's house (87 rods), and she says: "If I could not get another one, I wouldn't take $20 for this one!"

Always known for his wit, Ira offers this newsworthy item in his May 1, 1880 issue of The Nunda Herald:

 "An Albany woman brings suit against a telephone company for trespass in putting its wires on the roof of her dwelling.  It isn't the trespass, however, that troubled her so much as the fact that there is gossip going on over her head that she cannot get hold of.---Boston Post."   

Ira goes on to add, "If she wanted to hear so bad all she had to do was to go up and take hold of the wire with her teeth, and she could hear every word.  That is the way Nunda ladies do, and the next time will be photographed."

The 1920's

Exciting news was announced in the June 21, 1928 edition of The Crystal Lake Herald!  The old system of winding a crank when you wish to call the operator will be a thing of the past!  Click here to read all about it.

Here is Crystal Lake's new telephone office in the Cohn Commercial Building:

By the end of the 1920's, there were 1,363 telephones in use in Crystal Lake.  Ten years earlier, there were only 495 telphones in use in the community.