top of page


Today, we live in a world of websites and smart phones. Early in the 20th century, less than half the businesses listed a phone number in their business ads. Here is a list of businesses and their phone numbers as found in Kemper's 1901 Haversack yearbook.


A. K. Mills, Jr., Undertaker & Embalmer, office #250, residence #173

A. M. Koontz, Good Things to Eat, phone #18

Chas. Heiberger, Bakery and Confectionery, phone #111

D. S. Koontz & Son, phone #3

Thiessen & Warnhoff's, phone #286


No, these are not typos. They are actual phone numbers of the day. They are also the only businesses that listed phone numbers.

Source: Elizabeth Davis of "Historically Yours"

The first regular telephone exchange was in New Haven, CT. The phones were leased and the owner had to put up his own lines to connect with another phone. The first rotary dial phone was invented in 1896. In 1889 the coin-operated pay phone was patented. It is interesting that the customer paid for the call after it was made. By the time the first pay phones were installed in 1905, there were about 2.2 million phones.  


Rotary Dial Phones were introduced in 1954.


Touch-Tone Phones were introduced in the 1940’s, but by 1990 the push button phones were more common than the rotary-dial phone.


Cordless Phones were introduced in the 1970’s. In 1994, digital cordless phones were introduced, which were more secure than a landline phone.


Cell Phones – an early mobile phone was a radio-controlled unit designed for vehicles. They had a short range and were clumsy to work with, and they were expensive.









Two 17 year old’s try to use a rotary dial telephone

Additional information can be found at: Bellis, Mary. "How the Telephone Was Invented." ThoughtCo, May. 22, 2021,

Telephone Companies that Currently Service Cooper County


Gonetspeed servicing the following Cooper County Towns:





Clifton City


Lone Elm

New Lebanon


Pilot Grove

Prairie Home




Co-Mo servicing the following Cooper County Towns:





Pilot Grove

Prairie Home


For more than a century, the Otelco family of communication companies has been providing rural communities with cutting age technology, first with the telephone in the late 1800's and today with traditional and digital technology and high-speed internet.


The original part of OTELCO in Missouri, the Gilliam Telephone Company, was formed May 18, 1903 and the Marshal Junction Telephone Company was formed in 1928.  These two companies merged in November 1932 and became the Mid-Missouri Telephone Company, owned and managed by Harold Jones and family.  In 1946, Mid-Missouri bought Telephone Company the Blackwater-Arrow Rock Telephone Company, adding the Blackwater and Arrow Rock exchanges. With the vision of serving rural communities where telephone service needed upgrading, Mid-Missouri Telephone Company grew, acquiring Nelson, Pilot Grove and Bunceton exchanges from United Telephone.  Then, Speed, Latham, High Point and Miami completed the current 12 exchanges extending 100 miles from north to south.


Internet service was added in March 1995, and in 2002 I-Land internet Services was acquired.


On December 21, 2004, Mid-Missouri Telephone Company became a division of OTELCO, with the name officially changing to Otelco Mid-Missouri LLC on January 1, 2012.  In 2018, all companies started using the OTELCO name. The company is now active in seven states.


Many other neighboring exchanges were added, thus expanding their boundaries 100 miles north to south. On December 21, 2004, Mid-Missouri Telephone became a division of Otelco. Otelco acquired Gonetspeed in May of 2022. There are currently 10 employees at the Pilot Grove location.

Co-Mo’s mission is to improve the quality of life for the region we serve.  We continually evaluate neighboring communities that are not served, or are underserved, in relation to broadband services.  We have expanded into city areas such as Boonville that we do not serve  electrically, but have been able to bring broadband service to residents of those towns and others.


Co-Mo Connect, a subsidiary of Co-Mo Electric, began a pilot program in 2010 to determine if it could bring all of the cooperative’s members a state-of-the-art fiber-to the home communications network.  In June of 2012, the Co-Mo Comm Board of Directors announced it would expand the pilot program to the entire Co-Mo Electric service territory through a four-phase plan over the next four years.


In addition to telephone and internet services, the communications network, dubbed Co-Mo Connect, would offer television packages over the revolutionary fiber system.


As of 2023, Co-Mo Connect serves 30,00 members in rural Missouri.

Do-it-Yourself Telephone Service

The people of Clear Creek wanted to modernize their community, so in 1907 they set up their own telephone system. They set up poles and lines, and the system was used by seven families. The system was housed in a Clear Creek home, and members of that family were the operators. In 1913-1914 they consolidated their system with Pilot Grove. 

Source: Pilot Grove Centennial Book


Visit the Telephone Pioneers Museum in Blackwater next to Mary Ann Schuster's insurance office. The city hall clerk is in charge of locking/unlocking the Museum.


The Museum has a lot of the old switchboards, phones, and lineman tools. There are a couple framed articles about the history of Mid-Missouri Telephone company.

bottom of page