Hilton Then and Now - John E. Cooper

In 1897, J.E. Cooper, a relative newcomer to the village, set about to remedy the lack of an organized fire department due to lack of equipment and discouragement by the previous firefighters. The Hilton Fire Department was formed and officers elected at a meeting in the Village Hall on Oct. 15, 1897.  The first officers were:  John E. Cooper, Chief; C.V. Babcock, assistant chief; B. J. Daily, secretary; and Z.W. J. Newcomb, foreman. The Hilton Record, a weekly newspaper, was founded April 22, 1897 by John E. Cooper who came to Hilton from Middleport, N.Y. The Paper, begun there with 100 subscribers, at a subscription rate of one dollar per year, attained a circulation of 500 the first year.

In September 1909 the Hilton Electric Light Co. was organized by J.E. Cooper, A.B. Fraser and M.D. Holbrook to manufacture and distribute this commodity in Hilton. The village entered into a 5 year contract with J.E. Cooper to furnish electric street lights (replacing the outmoded kerosene lamps) to be started at dark and turned off at midnight. By 1925 the demand for rural service had become greater than the Hilton Electric Light and Power Co. could handle and the local electric company was sold to the Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation.

The Hilton Telephone Company

The Hilton Telephone Company was organized in 1902 by John E. Cooper, founder of The Hilton Record. The original directors of the company were Joseph Ingham, E. J. Shutts, Dr. Samuel Holman, A. B. Fraser, Henry Opperman, M. D. Holbrook, Henry Bufton, W. H. Wood, and John E. Cooper. Mr. Cooper was elected president and manager at the first meeting, the offices he held until the time of his death in 1935, at which time his son, J. Harlan Cooper, was elected manager of the company. When Mr. Cooper first came to Hilton in 1897, there were only two telephones in operation in the village; one located in the Fraser Store and the other in the office of the Upton Co. (later known as the Hilton Milling & Warehouse Co.), both toll stations of the Rochester Exchange of the Bell Telephone Co. Recognizing the need for community telephone service, Mr. Cooper and other civic-minded citizens, set about to organize the Hilton Telephone Company. An exchange was built and a few rural lines were erected. The company entered into a contract with the Bell Telephone Co. for toll service, which contract continued in effect until at least 1947. The Hilton Telephone Co. was sold in 1945 to Donald F. Davison of Spencerport and has since been consolidated with the Ogden Telephone Co. In 1947 the cement block telephone exchange was constructed on Brook Street and enlarged in John E. Cooper, 1959 to accommodate more facilities for the growing Hilton area. In the fall of 1948, steps were taken to convert
the system to dial. Hilton's manually operated telephone exchange in the "Green" Block (now Hilton  Pharmacy Building) ceased operation in March 1950 when all telephone lines were finally converted to the new dial system. According to Mr. Davison, this community was reported to be the only one of its size to have the dial system fully in effect at that time.

The first telephone directory of the Hilton Telephone Company contained a listing of 30 names. Daily service was supplied from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. except on Sundays. By 1945 when the company was purchased by Mr. Davison, 696 names were listed in the directory. Mrs. Emma Wadsworth was the last of the Hilton Telephone Co. operators to operate the old switchboard. Mrs. Bert (Nellie) Haskins is credited with having the longest continuous day service (24 years) and Mrs. D. A. (Elva) Paulson the longest service as night operator (23 years); Frank Cox served as one of the first night operators and was the last night operator for the company.

HILTON TELEPHONE CO. TELEPHONE OPERATORS

Day Operators were Maude Ainsworth, Ella May Perry Ainsworth, Annabelle Wood Baughman, Harriet Smith Botcher, Edyth Peffer Bourque, Lillian Perry Bradley, Iva McKinney Clark, Ella Newkirk Collamer, Alyce Haynes Curtis, Mildred Cooper Klock Ephraimson, Flora Perry Goodwin, Mabel Black Goodwin, Geraldine Gates Harradine, Nellie Haskins, and Hazel Turgon Hawkins.

Night Operators were Rena Haynes, Ethel Herrick, Cora Wade Hiler, Ruby Kerrison Howie, Ruby Pickett Hutchins, Cheryl Kerrison, Elna Madden Kerwin, Mona Perry Leary, Edythe Crook Orth, Ina Cox Pickett, Pearl Randall, Lurilla Stothard Stevens, Eleanor Tesch Stothard, Emma Newkirk Wadsworth, and Alice Wood.

Substitute Operators were J. Harlan Cooper, John Magee, Joseph Batty, Frank Cox, Elva Baxter Paulson, Jeanette Bronson, Jewel Turgon Buell, Vivian Davis O'Dell, and Leona Bumtt Palmer..

Questions or comments should be directed to the Village of Hilton Historian:
Dave Crumb
59 Henry St.
Hilton, NY, 14468
historian@hiltonny.org

 

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