Walnut Communications History
In 1900, the Musson Brothers had an office in the Exchange Bank building and built lines in the Walnut area.
In March 1915, a group of farmers gathered to settle the telephone service problem before spring work started. Since the roads were too muddy for wagons and buggies, people traveled on horseback. Henry Rossmann remembered riding horseback to the home of Andy Schuttloffel for a meeting about telephone service. Art Jacobsen rode with him. It must have been a very important meeting because Art bought a new saddle for the occasion. At this meeting, besides Art, Henry and Andy, were Otto & Henry Matthies, Roy Schuttloffel, Otto Kuhr and Pete Diedricksen. These eight men decided to form a company and call it the Walnut Telephone Company. Shares were to be sold and seven directors were to be elected to the board with four serving as officers. Business would begin next week, on March 23, with offices in a room above the German Bank. It seems that things really moved that March. The first board of directors consisted of Andy Schuttloffel, president; Otto Matthies, vice president; Otto Kuhr, secretary; Henry Matthies, treasurer; Henry Rossmann, Art Jacobsen and Pete Diedricksen.
On March 23, a public meeting was held in Walnut. O. Mosher, a Walnut lawyer, presided at the meeting, with Frank Turner, an Avoca lawyer, speaking. The meeting went well. A number of people wanted service from this new company.
The State Legislature was considering a bill to ban any new telephone companies from starting. This put considerable pressure on progress, as a company needed at least one line in service in order to qualify as a company.
Roy Schuttloffel had a Musson Brothers telephone in his house. Roy had just bought another farm 1 1/2 miles from his home place. This would be the location of the second phone. Otto Kuhr got a second phone from Wiota. Andy was able to locate the wire. Early on a frosty March morning, a group of men went to a willow grove on Andy's place to cut some willow poles. None of these new linemen remember having any trouble setting the poles in the ground and they were finished by 4:00 in the afternoon. The original telephone has been rewired and is still in operation.
The new company needed operating cash. The treasurer told Roy Schuttloffel that since he had two telephones in operation he would have to buy two shares. Roy wrote out the $100 check that afternoon. That was the first money in the treasury of this new company. The seven men on the board also bought shares, and the company was on its way.
In May the directors agreed to approach Musson Brothers regarding the purchase of their company.
One day during the threshing season, it was urgent to have a meeting of the board to decide what to offer the Mussons. Art Jacobsen was running a threshing machine and couldn't get away. So the rest of the directors went out to the field. Art stopped the machine for a short time and they held a meeting.
In October, the town was canvassed to see who was in favor of going with the new company. Many were in favor, but many were in favor of the old company. Feelings were running high over this matter. One lady remembered that her brother and a neighbor boy had a bloody battle on the way home from school. One boy defended his father and the old company while the other boy thought his father and the new company was worth losing blood over.
With the Musson company owning the toll lines from Walnut, the Walnut Telephone Company could offer only local service. A buy-out of Mussons was imperative to survive. Otto Matthies remembered that at this time the two companies couldn't discuss business because each would become angry. The Mussons hired a Mr. Vinton to represent them in the business talks. A deal was finally struck in April 1919.
Many more farmers were added to the system. Buried lead cable was placed in the town of Walnut in 1917, which remained in service until 1983. During this construction, at least one lady refused to allow the new cable buried next to her property and threatened to get the sheriff from Avoca. The president of the Walnut Telephone Company, Andy Schuttloffel, devised a plan to solve this problem. He hired 25 men from Atlantic to dig the trench and complete the job early the next morning. When she arose, the job had been completed.
Emil Feldhahn ran the local hardware store and did a thriving business selling spades to these men. One man returned to the store in a couple of hours. He had tried to use the spade and found that hard work went with it. He wanted to sell the spade back. Mr. Feldhahn offered him half price because it was now a second hand spade. That afternoon Roy Schuttloffel was in the store and Emil sold the spade to him for half price. That same spade is on display in the telephone office.
In October of 2016, METC completed the purchase of Walnut Communications - headquartered in Walnut, IA, which serves many communities in western Iowa. Each company has maintained it's unique brand and staff, but the staffs work together on many projects to gain efficiencies and cost savings for the benefit of customers and shareholders.