Rocksprings Telephone Company
(Southwest Texas Telephone Company)
Marker Text: Local businessman Street Gilmer and D. H. Comparette of Kerrville built a long distance telephone line from Rocksprings to Kerrville in 1898. They installed the town's first telephone in Newton & Smart's store. The phone was later moved to Gilmer's Drug Store; this marked the beginning of the Rocksprings Telephone Company.
Telephone customers in the early 20th century used crank-handled magneto wall phones to contact telephone operators. As many as seventeen parties shared each phone line. A 1927 tornado impaired many of the Rocksprings lines and devastated the town. Telephone company employee Foster Owens left his home in the unstable weather to clear the toll lines by hand and call for assistance from Kerrville. Following the tornado, the telephone company built a new rock building.
The 1950s brought major changes for the growing company. Street Gilmer died in February 1951 and his son Claud, a former state legislator and speaker of the House, became president of the company. In 1952 the Rocksprings exchange purchased the Nueces Canyon Telephone Company.
Claud Gilmer's son became general manager in 1953. Over the next decade, the company acquired the Utopia, D'Hanis, and Vinegarroon telephone exchanges. By 1958 every exchange in the company had been converted to the dial system.
The Rocksprings and Nueces Canyon Telephone Company became the Southwest Texas Telephone Company in 1983. It continues to be a family business: two of Street Gilmer's grandchildren and five great-grandchildren served on the board of directors one hundred years after the company's inception. (1998)
Marker No: 11855
Aluminum 27 x 42 Subject Marker
Geographic: 30.016199, -100.208252
Location: County Courthouse grounds - Sweeten Street, Rocksprings