Manford Byron Speedy gets a telephone 1903

Our telephone exchange has enlarged somewhat recently, new ‘phones being put in the residence of M.B. Speedy, H.C. Parsons and E.J. Davis.

Manford Byron Speedy (2nd great grandfather) was born in 1838 Ohio, to William and (probably) Elizabeth Glenn Speedy. Manford is a family name given to a cousin Manford Homer Speedy and 2 of Manford’s grandsons as a middle name. In 1856, age 18, Manford left Ohio and is in Shell Rock, Iowa. In 1864 at 26 he marries Ann Eliza Coats and they have three children. Typhoid fever takes Ann and the youngest daughter’s life around 1869. In 1870 Manford is living with his Coats in-laws, his father William and his and Ann’s children. In 1874 Manford marries Elizabeth Stewart and they have 5 children.

The 1870 Agricultural Census shows Manford’s farm production: 160 total acres, 120 acres tilled, 14 acres of grassland, 3/4 acre of potatoes, 3 acres of apple trees. He had 8 milk cows, produced 700 lbs of butter, had 8 other cows with 4 calves dropped, 112 swine and 50 poultry. This poultry produced 250 dozen eggs for the year. 5 cord of wood were also produced.

Manford was known as MB and considered a noble pioneer in the Shell Rock and Allison areas of Butler County, Iowa. He was involved in local politics, he was a sheriff, farmer, general store owner and livestock buyer.

So anyway, Manford had a lot going on. Then in 1903 when he was 64 years old he gets a phone. This was such a big deal it was posted in the local newspaper. We talk about virtual reality in the 21st century. What was it like for Manford, calling on a ‘phone for the first time? His son Oscar was in San Joaqun, California , an engineer at the mineral baths in Stockton. Because the $ costs would have been pretty high I’m guessing they connected through one phone call if at all. But what was it like that instant he was speaking into a machine and could hear his son who he hadn’t seen or heard for years, what was it like to finally connect? Something would have changed, Manford and Oscar’s sense of reality forever altered, or not.



(Ancestry sources are $, offers an explanation on their wiki, these schedules are not at the NARA, I checked.) Selected U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880. Name: Operations, Inc.; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date:  2010

“Allison news.” The Iowa (Greene) Recorder. 10 February 1903. The Digital Archives of the Greene Public Library. : 2017.