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Bella B. Toner, telegrapher dies
Mrs. Bella B. Toner, Country’s
Oldest Woman Telegrapher Dies
distinction of being the oldest woman telegraph operator in the country, Mrs.
Bella B. Toner, station agent at New Centreville, on the Philadelphia and
Chester Valley Branch for 52 years. died on May 27. She was 83.
Mrs. Toner was one
of the last telegraphers on the Reading to use the ancient "tape"
instrument for sending and receiving messages. She was retired on May 1, 1927.
For 52 years this
white-haired woman, the mother of three children, all long since grown up and
with families of their own, had been employed by the railroad. As station
agent she has handled all baggage, messages, tickets and the other duties that
fall to the lot of a village railroad representative.
Mrs. Toner was
married at the age of 17 and her home and the station had always been one. The
first floor is divided into two rooms—the ticket office, where the tape
telegraph ticket reposed, and the waiting room.
A quaint story
revolves about the venerable "ticket." Years ago the railroad
introduced a new instrument into the office but Mrs. Toner after a trial
declared she could not master it, so it was removed and the old machine
As Summertime approached Mrs. Toner would turn her
attention to her twenty-five fat hens and a pedigreed rooster which were her
pride and joy. Her garden patch also received its quota of care. During the
Winter months the station mistress spent her time knitting and crocheting
during her odd moments.