Early Telephone Systems Operated In Local Towns

The 1920 Report of the Railroad Commission of Georgia reported that the offices of the Ray City Telephone Company were located in Hahira, GA.  For the year 1921, the company had gross earnings of $1872.59 and $2359.75 in operating expenses, for a net deficit of $487.19.

In 1924, the Atlanta Constitution reported that a Ray City entrepreneur would purchase the Hahira telephone system.

Atlanta Constitution
March 8, 1924, Pg 8
RAY CITY MAN BUYS HAHIRA PHONE SYSTEM

    Hahira, Ga., March 7. – (Special.)  M.G. Melton, of Ray City, Ga., has purchased the Hahira telephone system from the Bank of Hahira, and will assume management at once.
    The system is comprised of 225 telephones, with rural lines running into adjacent communities, as well as being connected by the Southern Bell system for long distance service.

Unidentified 1920s Georgia switchboard operator. Vanishing Georgia, Georgia Archives, Office of Secretary of State. http://cdm.sos.state.ga.us/u?/vg2,7216

Unidentified young man, 1920s Georgia switchboard operator. Vanishing Georgia, Georgia Archives, Office of Secretary of State. http://cdm.sos.state.ga.us/u?/vg2,7216

By the time of Melton’s Hahira investment, Ray City also had a well established telephone system.

Ray City Public Service Company

The Rays Mill Public Service company was established some time prior to 1912. By 1919, the Ray City Public Service Company served as the telephone company for Ray City, Georgia.  The Report of the Comptroller-General of the State of Georgia for the year ending December 31, 1922 shows that there were no less that 152 telephone companies operating across the state.  In the local area, Ray City, Nashville, Milltown, Hahira, Homerville, Cairo and Quitman all had telephone companies.

It is said that the first telephone in Ray City was installed at the drugstore that later became the Victory Soda Shop.  Ike Fender and Gillie Ann Cowart were among the town’s first telephone operators.

By 1922, the Ray City Public Service company had 16 miles of telephone poles and 75 miles of telephone wire.  The company paid $9.50 for telephone company taxes, and the  total value of the company property was $1,900.00.   In the Report of the Comptroller-General of the State of Georgia for the year ending December 31, 1925, the company name is given as Ray City Telephone Company. The total value of the company property was $1,888.00, and the company paid $9.44 in state taxes.

Later, M.G. Melton relocated to Hahira, but continued his commercial investments in Ray City.  An earlier post told of his intention to operate a telephone exchange in Ray City.

Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929
M.G. Melton Buys A. Turner Brick Bldgs.

   A transaction of much interest to the people of Ray City and surrounding  community is that in which Mr. M. G. Melton of Hahira purchased the two large brick buildings known as the Andrew Turner Buildings.  One of the buildings is two stories high and the top floor is needed for the telephone exchange.

In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps assisted with the construction of rural telephone lines. Eventually, the larger telephone corporations bought out the local exchange operators.  In 1950, the telephone service in Ray City was provided by Consolidated Telephone Company, which also served Berlin, Boston, Coolidge, Doerun, Hahira, Lakeland, Meigs, Morven, Moultrie, Norman Park, and Pavo.

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