Shortly after the Civil War, a young man named Iverson A. Lumpkin came to central Illinois, eventually settling in Mattoon. He was one of the pioneering people who built homes, started schools, founded churches and brought industry to the prairie.
Dr. Lumpkin, a dentist by profession, was a visionary. Technology had always intrigued him, and he quickly recognized the potential in new inventions like the telephone and later, the automobile. He saw that a communications network encompassing both telephone lines and paved roads was vital to the growth of rural Illinois.
By 1894, Dr. Lumpkin was convinced that Alexander Graham Bell's little marvel, invented only 18 years before, would play an important role in the future of Mattoon. Earlier efforts to provide telephone service to Mattoon had failed. A subsidiary of the Bell System's Central Union Telephone Company started operations with one switchboard and 20 subscribers in 1881, but within three years, operations were suspended. Over the next few years, other attempts met similar fates. But by 1894 the original Bell patents had expired, making it possible for independent telephone companies to be formed.
On August 10, 1894, the Mattoon Telephone Company was incorporated, with Dr. Lumpkin serving as the first president, and his son, Dr. William C. Lumpkin, also a dentist, serving as treasurer. On September 4, 1894, the City of Mattoon passed an ordinance granting the new company the right to operate.
As the new company prepared to serve its first customers, Dr. Lumpkin demonstrated his confidence in both the future of the telephone and the growth of Mattoon. As he left for Chicago to buy the company's first switchboard, he declined the advice of business associates who believed a 25-line switchboard would be adequate for Mattoon's needs for the foreseeable future. Instead, he returned with a 250-line switchboard.
And on April 20, 1895, when Mattoon Telephone Company began service from offices at 114 S. 17th Street, his confidence was justified as 175 customers had signed up for the new service. To mark the event, Dr. Lumpkin chose 1-7-5 as his telephone number. At the close of the century, Mattoon Telephone Company was serving over 400 telephone customers, employing 10 operators and three linemen.
Dr. William Lumpkin had organized the Coles County Telephone and Telegraph Company to provide service between Mattoon and surrounding communities.
Adversity & Expansion
Mattoon Telephone Company faced its share of problems typical of the industry...ice storms that snapped lines, poles toppled by high winds, floods...all putting the infant technology in peril.But the worst disaster occurred in the very early years. On a hot, humid July 3, 1901, a fire broke out in the Demaree Building, completely destroying the offices of the Mattoon Telephone Company and the Coles County Telephone and Telegraph.
Dr. Lumpkin and his son immediately went to work, directing the installation of a second-hand switchboard to restore service. Within days, they had ordered a new 600-line switchboard and started construction of a three-story brick building at 117 S. 17th Street. Completed in just 90 days, that new building was to serve as the company's headquarters until well into the 1970's.
Between 1906 and 1935, a series of acquisitions and mergers shaped what was eventually to become Illinois Consolidated Telephone Company (ICTC).
In 1924, following the untimely death of Dr. William Lumpkin, his son, Richard Adamson Lumpkin, became general manager at the age of 27. He continued the growth and expansion process set in motion by his father and grandfather.
That same year he organized Illinois Consolidated Telephone Company, acquiring telephone companies in Christian and Montgomery Counties.
In 1926, Coles County Telephone merged with the telephone company in Shelbyville to become Illinois Southeastern Telephone Company serving Shelbyville and parts of Coles County. In 1935, ICTC and Illinois Southeastern Telephone Company also merged under the Illinois Consolidated Telephone Company name.
Over the next decades, ICTC grew along with the communities it served. A significant milestone came in 1960 with the acquisition of the Effingham exchange from Illinois Bell. The company continued to add other exchanges throughout the 60s and 70s.
In the fall of 1975, ICTC occupied its first new offices since 1901 when the newly remodeled building at 121 South 17th Street was opened. Also in 1975, an addition began to the operating building at 1501 Charleston to make room for new electronic switching equipment.
In 1977, Richard Anthony Lumpkin was named president of ICTC. In 1984, he became president of the newly formed Consolidated Communications, Inc.(CCI), parent company of ICTC, Consolidated Communications Directories, and Consolidated Market Response. After the death of his father in 1989, Richard Anthony Lumpkin was named chairman of the board at CCI.
On September 4, 1994, ICTC marked its centennial and proudly celebrated a century of service to east central Illinois.
ICTC, along with other subsidiaries of then-Consolidated Communications, Inc., merged with McLeodUSA in 1997.
In July 2002, an investment group, headed by ICTC Chairman and President Richard A. Lumpkin entered into an agreement to purchase ICTC and the other related subsidiaries from McLeodUSA. The sale closed on December 31, 2002, and the company name was changed to Consolidated Communications, Inc.
In April 2004, Consolidated Communications completed the purchase of Texas-based TXU Communications, which is comprised of the former Lufkin-Conroe Telephone Exchange and Fort Bend Communications.
The former North Pittsburgh Systems Inc., and its companies North Pittsburgh Telephone Co., Nauticom and Penn Telecom, joined the Consolidated Communications family on Dec. 31, 2007.
In July 2012, Consolidated Communications completed the purchase of SureWest Communications, extending the company's reach to Roseville and Sacramento, California and Kansas City.
In October 2014, Consolidated Communications completed a merger with Enventis Corporation, adding operations in Minnnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and the Dakotas to the company's portfolio.
Consolidated Communications now serves customers in 11 states and employs approximately 1,900 people in California, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.