From Hopewell Valley's Past
From time to time we'll be sharing interesting bits of history on this page. Some may come from past issues of the Society's newsletter (now in its 38th year), and some from items in our collection and reference library.
Check back every so often to see what we've added. It might be some recently uncovered treasure!
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Pennington Enters the Modern Age
Telephone service came to Pennington through the efforts of George W. Scarborough. It required several attempts, but service was finally established in 1897 when the first phone was appropriately installed at Scarborough’s drug store. Telephone installations increased slowly until 1904 because many people considered the phone a temporary foolish gadget. The rapid growth after 1904 required the establish-ment of a switchboard housed in a rented room where operators were employed to provide continual service. Several rural phone companies set up in surrounding areas connected to the Pennington switchboard and by 1913 there were 275 phones connected.
The borough’s dirt streets of the 1890s were lighted by oil lanterns and the lamplighter of the 1890s was a well-known figure in town. Charles Hendrickson was better known to all as “Heavy Dick” and during his long life in Pennington he performed a number of jobs including waiter, hack driver, mail carrier, pump organ pumper, horse watcher, and generally a jack-of-all-trades. He took great pride in his work filling the lamps with fuel, trimming wicks, and polishing globes, as well as lighting the lamps each night no matter the weather.
From the 2015 exhibit “Pennington Comes of Age”
Charles Hendrickson, Pennington's lamplighter cleans a glass globe from one of the town's oil street lamps on South Main. c1899 Frisbie Collection, HVHS
Phone Operator, c1899 Frisbie Collection, HVHS