Editor's note: The old lineman’s garage on Sixth Street between D and E Street didn’t catch much interest from people before or even after it was torn down to make way for a much larger vehicle storage building. The building’s significance didn’t escape Jim Reisdorff, history columnist for The Banner-Press. Jim went to the books to find this reminder of how modern communications came to the Great Plains.
Information on the LT&T company in David City as compiled from the David City Centennial book from 1973 and the Butler County History Book from 1982:
The first telephone service in Butler County apparently began in August 1896, when a phone line was extended from York to David City. The phone office where everyone went to place or receive a call was initially located in the Gates Store and Bakery on the east side of the square.
The first record of a telephone company in David City was in 1897, when a franchise was obtained by Fred Scott to operate the Scott Telephone Company, with an initial 30 subscribers. Later, in about 1903, the Nebraska Telephone Company established long distance telephone service in David City.
Still another firm, the Surprise Telephone Company, built an exchange to David City in 1904, taking over the Scott phone company. After that, the Nebraska and Surprise companies competed for local and long distance phone service for a number of years.
Because there were two local phone companies, each subscriber had to have two telephones in his home or place of business in order to have complete service. The lines of the two companies did not interconnect and it was not possible to call a subscriber of the competing company from a telephone of the competing company.
In 1912, the Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph Company purchased the properties of the Nebraska company, which was then operating 468 telephones in David City. LT&T later purchased the properties of the Surprise Telephone Company in 1916, and the two companies were consolidated into one exchange a year later.
LT&T soon came to be the only phone service provider to the David City area. A new LT&T building was constructed on the southwest corner of 6th and E Streets in about 1922 to house the company’s local offices and a staff of up to 12 switchboard operators. For 24 hours a day, phone operators staffed a switchboard located on the second floor of the building in order to place both local and long distance phone calls for subscribers. LT&T’s offices were moved to a new facility located one block south on D Street in May 1958. The old phone building now serves as the dental office for Dr. Brian Wessling.
Dial phone service and direct distance dialing was installed in David City on Nov. 2 1958, replacing battery-powered telephones. Direct distance dialing for other phone exchanges in the county were provided at the same time.
As of 1973, LT&T was serving 180 communities at 135 exchanges in 22 southeastern Nebraska counties.