In 1903 the telephone came to Ashland. Julia Weisiger was the manager of the telephone exchange from that time until she retired 35 years later when the C&P Telephone Compa­ny installed a new automatic dialing system. Under the old manual system, Julia served as the day operator, and one of Dr. Daniel S. Ellis’ sons served as night operator. Residents cranked their phone to ring Miss Julia and would give her the name of the person they wanted to talk to. She would then con­nect them manually, using plugs on her switchboard.

When the new town hall was built, Miss Julia’s office was located on the second floor of the building with the volunteer fire department below. A. rope attached to the fire bell was encased in the wall of the exchange room. As soon as a call came in reporting a fire, the telephone operator went to the case and pulled the bell’s rope. The sound of the bell could be heard all over Ashland. Then the operator went to the window and dropped the key to the firehouse on the sidewalk below so the volunteer firemen could get in when they arrived.

Photo:  Julia Weisiger (right), Ashland’s long-time telephone operator, and her assistant, 21-year-old Juliana Hartsook (left), in front of the telephone office, October 12, 1938. Photo submitted by Julie Franklin.

Ashland's telephone operators in 1938