William R. (Bill) Tatum is president and manager of the company which serves parts of Dade and Walker Counties in the most northwestern part of Georgia. It is, in fact, the point where Georgia meets the state lines of Alabama and Tennessee, which provided the only access to the area at that time.

In the early 1900s, open wire lines were strung on locust poles long before roads were built into the isolated area by Governor Rivers’ administration. Telephone service was later extended from Trenton to Lookout Mountain to Sand Mountain.

The company, known as Simpson Telephone Company, had fifteen customers and was owned and operated by William Simpson. By the early 1920s, the number of telephone subscribers had grown to twenty or twenty-five.

Following Mr. Simpson’s death, Mrs. Simpson continued to operate the company from an old store building until she sold it to J. W. Gray. Mr. Gray moved the equipment to a service station/grocery store (This old service station/grocery store is reported to have been located on the east side of Highway 11 across from the Citizens Bank of today.) and renamed the business “Trenton Telephone Company”. He operated the business until 1950 by which time the station count had grown to sixty.

Mr. Tatum purchased the company in 1950 and by 1953, the number of customers had doubled. Mr. Tatum took on partners and incorporated with Jules A. Case and Henry Gross on April 17, 1953. Then in 1964, Mr. Tatum and Mr. Case purchased Mr. Gross’s stock in the company. Mr. Case’s part ownership is now in the hands of his estate.

News of the REA program brought encouragement to formulate a plan for updating the company’s operations and preparing for REA loan funds to improve and extend the service area. This company is the only existing telephone company in Georgia to have fully repaid its REA loan.

In subsequent years, the company and area continued to experience steady growth.

Trenton Telephone Company boasts of being one of Georgia’s first companies to install 0+ dialing equipment. This move toward the latest industry technology is indicative of the company’s commitment to provide superior quality service.

Subscribers are served by nineteen employees from three exchanges, Trenton, West Brown and Rising Fawn.

The growth of the Trenton Telephone Company has steadily increased with each year from 1,225 in 1962 to 6000 in 1997. With the age of the computer internet upon us, and the fact that in July of 1997, the majority of Dade County telephone subscribers voted to have local access calling to Chattanooga area telephones; this number will, without doubt, increase substantially. (Submitted by Trenton Telephone; Company)

  1. Pat Carroll

    A very moving article but the trenton phone company is a monopoly and is overcharging for internet service and my repeated calls to AT&T for internet service in this area is denied due to the city of Trenton preventing me from aquiring their services… exa: 768K DSL service Trenton = 39.95 AT&T = 19.95 per month.
    1.5M DSL 49.95 for Trenton, 37.95 for AT&T
    3.0M DSL 59.95 for Trenton, 42.95 for AT&T.

    This is indeed quality service being provided by this local company.


    Pat Carroll

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