Edwin Ladson Barnes (1858 – 1943) Mr. E. L. Barnes is best known, as the gentleman who purchased what was originally a fledgling phone company, in downtown Rock Hill with just a few subscribers. He clearly viewed the undertaking as a means of making his mark on Rock Hill and within a few years was extending lines throughout the region. The phone company is now in the operation of the third generation of the Barnes family – Comporium Communications.
Andrew Rhett Smith was one of the founders of the Rock Hill Telephone Company and President of the Rock Hill Buggy Company. He died at the age of 48 in 1898 during a worship service at First Presbyterian Church. The distraught family arranged for a spectacular statue of an angel to be placed on his grave. Imported from Italy, it stood there for many years. One of the family members later wanted to place footstones on all the graves in the family plot. He arranged for Mr. Sassi, the Rock Hill monument carver, to do so, and paid by trading the statue of the angel. It stood in Mr. Sassi’s studio for years. When the DAR was planning a memorial to Elizabeth Jackson, mother of President Andrew Jackson at Waxhaw Presbyterian Church in Lancaster County, they discovered the angel in Mr. Sassi’s studio, and it was purchased for reuse. It still graces the memorial to Mrs. Jackson.
The Herald reported on Oct 7, 1894 – “Yesterday Rock Hill was connected by telephone with Fort Mill, Charlotte, Concord, Gastonia, Mt. Holly and other towns when the phones of the Western Electric Company were put in. The Rock Hill office is in the drugstore of Mr. M.H. Sandifer.”
For additional information on the Barnes click here.
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