Today’s post is a guest blog submitted by Jack Withington, a participant in the “Sages of Petaluma” conversation group that meets monthly at the Petaluma Historical Museum & Library.

It would be difficult to imagine life without access to the telephone in the early 1900’s. Southern Sonoma County pioneer farmers and ranchers had to travel to Petaluma in order to make a telephone call that involved using one of Petaluma’s two pay phones located in local cigar stores. The pay phones did not take money only tokens purchased from the store’s owner

In 1909 a Swiss dairy family, the Guglielmetti’s, need for phone service was the catalyst for what was to become the largest of the south county’s nine rural area telephone services. Concerned about the time and expense of driving seven miles into town for telephone service, the family inquired about obtaining rural telephone service. They were told that the local telephone company served only the residents within the city limits. They then asked what they would need to have their own rural service. The answer was they could hook up to an existing city  line and run a telephone wire, seven miles along Spring Hill Road, out to their ranch on Guglielmetti Lane.  Soon the industrious family’s telephone wire was hanging from utility poles, barns, out buildings, trees, and fence posts. The Guglielmetti family now had their telephone service.

Neighboring ranchers soon asked to hook up to their line. Before long the service became known as the Guglielmetti Telephone Company. Will Guglielmetti become company president, with Maude Wiseman; formally Chief Operator of the local Pacific Telephone service (1913-18), joined the firm later becoming Mrs. William Guglielmetti. By 1949, after 40 years of service, the company boasted over 800 rural customers serving Penngrove, Cotati, Hessel, and the Sonoma Mountains, the company was sold to the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company as part of the Bell System for $50,000.

During that time, Will Guglielmetti operated an electrical contracting business and ventured with other family members in operating Guglielmetti Brother’s Dodge and Oldsmobile automobile dealership and became the local representatives of Truxton Internal Gear Drive. One of the reasons they sold off the automobile dealership was that they had to teach each customer how to drive.

Readers interested in learning more about the “Sages of Petaluma,” should contact Bill Hammerman at whammer@petalumanet.org.