The Citizens Telephone Company was started in 1921 by a
group of Brevard businessmen. Their main
objectives were to provide electric telephone and telegraph lines, as well as
light and power in Brevard and throughout Transylvania County. Originally each purchased five $100 shares in
the company. J.S. Bromfield became the
principal owner and operated the company.
The first switchboard was located in the McMinn
Building. Then for many years the
company operated out of the old jail, located behind the current Transylvania
In 1936, Joseph H. and Charles W. Pickelsimer, Sr. bought
the telephone company from the Bromfield family. Initially they did not manage the business but
after Joseph’s death in 1941 Charles became President and took over its operation.
|Phone booth, corner of South Broad and Jordan Streets, 1961.
In the early days calls were placed through an operator
who rang the individual or business requested.
Beginning in March 1945 callers were asked by operators to provide the
“number please.” The Local History Room
at the Library has a collection of Citizens Telephone Company directories. The earliest is from May 1947 and lists the
Transylvania Times phone number as 7.
|Phone booth, corner of Broad and Main Streets, 1968.
On December 6, 1951 Citizens Telephone officially transferred
service to their new Exchange Building with its modern equipment. It was located on Probart St., also behind the
Transylvania Times and is the office of Harris Architects today.
|Phone booth and 31₵ gas,
corner of East Main and Johnson Streets.
These updates brought dial service to the county. Each customer had been assigned a phone
number beginning with the letters TU. TU
on a telephone dial is represented by the numbers 88, which is why many Transylvania County phone
numbers begin with 88. Customers now had
rotary dial telephones and the need for operators to place calls ended.
The company grew rapidly, establishing service in Rosman
in 1954 and continuing to expand throughout the county. They opened their current office on E. Main
St. in October 1962. In 1971 party lines
From the 1960s through the 1990s telephone booths were
commonly located on street corners in downtown Brevard and in other busy
business areas. Today everyone has a
cell phone and telephone booths are a rarity.
In January 2008 “one day shy of the 60 year anniversary
of the day Charles Pickelsimer, Jr. went to work for his father” it was announced
that the company would be sold to Comporium out of Rock Hill, SC. Citizens Telephone Company had 80+ employees
at that time.
The Library is interested in donations of Citizen’s
telephone books prior to 1947 and for the years of 1948-1951 and 1961.
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit
the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about
our history and see additional photographs. For more information, comments or suggestions
contact Marcy at [email protected]
or 828-884-3151 X242.