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Posted By: Tim Glaser on: 11/25/2002 15:27:50 CST
Subject: Israel T. Nicklin

Message Detail:
An article in the Clarksburg-Telegraph the other day with an interesting quote at the bottom which I would like to know if it's true. The article is about the telegraph early on in Western Virginia. Thanks.
Instant long-distance communication is taken for granted today but 150 years ago, more or less, exchanging information with someone in the next town involved a day ride. Reaching out to touch people several states away required long delays. In May 1844, when Samuel Morse unveiled the telegraph and dot-dash code for sending messages through wires, he created a communications breakthrough that equal or even exceeded that of our modern miracles, the telephone and the Internet. Some businessmen of the Big Kanawha Valley (Charleston) immediately recognized the potential of Morse's device and said, ill effect, "Oh, man, we go get us one of those." An account of their pioneering efforts was written by George W. Summers for the Charleston Daily Mail, Dec. 15, 1940. Establishing telegraph service involved much more than sending in six box-tops and waiting for your Junior Telegrapher secret decoder ring to arrive in the mail. Cutting an preparing poles, then stringing miles of wire was a very expensive proposition one many investors considered too risky. It was not unlike today's world of e-commerce technology is nifty, but making a profit off of it is a whole 'nother matter. Still, one J. S. 0. Brooks saw oppertunity in the telegraph. In the 1840 an armada of steamboats carried Kanawha salt to markets on the Ohio and coal was beComing an important export too. Brooks' brother Chaunce and other family members were in the salt business; Mr. Morse's new device could help them track progress of their shipments between Charleston and Point Pleasant. One night in 1848, just four years after Morse had tapped out his first message between Baltimore and Washington, a crowd crammed Charleston's small Presbyterian Sunday school building to watch a demostration of this new technology. AD Brown, the well-regarded pastor of the church; was to compare the text of a sent message against what was received. An estimated 1000-feet of wire looped all the way around the room, followu the base of the walls to connect one-telegraph with another two telegraphers from the Washington-Baltimore line had been brought in with a partitIon separating them so the receiver could not see the sender: " It was a momentous occasion. When the sender tapped out his series of dots and dashes, was the telegrap clicking the only sound in the room ? Did the audience wait breathlessly a D Brown made his comparison ? Did they cheer when he announced the messages were identical? The record is silent on this, but J. B. Noyes, who observed the experiment as a 12-year-old boy, said the demonstration made an impression on him he never forgot. His recollection passed down to his son, providing a description of the event. Telegraph service was established between Charleston and Point Pleasant, but Summers could not determine when. Apparently it began before the Civil War: True long-distance telegraphy arrived with the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in 1873. Summers alluded to the possibility a western Virginian actually invented a successful telegraph seven years before Morse did. Israel T. Nicklin, a country doctor of Middlebourne; reportedly tested a similar device in Tyler County. He did not patent it, but dated drawings and descriptiontions to his Unheralded achievement, according to Summers. The moral, boys and girls, is "Marketing is everything.

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