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Marceil Freeland papers

 Collection — Folder: S0488
Identifier: S0488

Scope and Contents

This collection includes newspaper clippings, a newsletter and typed documents from Marceil Freeland in Indiana ranging from 1909 to 1964 regarding Israel D. Jewett's "telephone," the agophone.


  • 1909-1964

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Hiram Dayton Jewett (1822–1891) and his wife, Malinda (Israel) Jewett (1823–1880), were among the first settlers in Adams Township, Decatur County, Indiana, where he built a mill, distilled whiskey, and ran a tannery. He had a son named Israel David, who was born on March 15, 1842. Israel David Jewett attended school and later owned a general store in St. Omer, Indiana. He married Samantha J. Mann (1844–1922) in 1870 and they had two sons, Ora Hiram (ca. 1871-1954) and Earl Dayton (1880–1958), and a daughter, Etta M. (1872-1909).

Isaac D. Jewett invented and refined a mechanical telephone prior to 1870. He ran a line from his home to his general store to test it and speak with his wife. After a reporter from the Cincinnati Gazette did a series of articles on his invention, Jewett decided he needed to patent his device. He and his father, Hiram, of St. Omer, Indiana patented a mechanical telephone, dubbed the "agophone," on January 7, 1879. The device had a simpler construction than Thomas Edison's design and allowed for clearer sound over much longer distances, working much like speaker phone to convey ambient noises and conversation around the telephone.

Jewett set up lines in Adams Township, Decatur County, Indiana so the neighbors could use his "talking boxes." He expanded his operation outside Adams Township, starting the Jewett Telephone Company of St. Paul in 1894 and moved to Greensburg, Indiana that same year. The company operated in Shelby and Decatur counties. Jewett also owned a drugstore and farmed. He inherited 342 acres near St. Omer from his father. In 1898, his wife Samantha sued him for $15,000 loaned to him for business, as well as child support. At some point, Samantha Jewett spent some time in a mental institution, according to one newspaper article. The couple apparently reconciled and made their home in St. Paul by 1912, when they considered a lengthy trip to Europe. The Jewetts' wealth and real estate holdings had grown considerably in that time.

In 1908, he moved back to the family homestead in Adams Township. Jewett died in October 3, 1919 and was buried in Star Cemetery in Adams Township. After his death, the Jewett Telephone Exchange of St. Paul, Indiana was sold to the Hope Independent Telephone Company for $2,000.

Sources: "Israel D. Jewett." 1850 United States Federal Census. Accessed June 6, 2022. "Israel D. Jewett." 1860 United States Federal Census. Accessed June 6, 2022. "Israel D. Jewett." 1870 United States Federal Census. Accessed June 6, 2022. "Israel D. Jewett." 1880 United States Federal Census. Accessed June 6, 2022. "Israel D. Jewett." Indiana, U.S., Death Certificates, 1899-2011. Accessed June 6, 2022.

"Brings Suit for $3,000 Damages." Rushville Daily Republican, August 19, 1914. Accessed June 6, 2022.

"Edison Eclipsed." Minneapolis Sun Tribune (MN), September 24, 1878. Accessed June 6, 2022.

"Eine Verbesserung des Telephon." Indiana Tribune, October 12, 1878. Accessed June 6, 2022.

"Family Trouble Results in St. Paul Phones Being Cut Out." Rushville Daily Republican, July 6, 1912. Accessed June 6, 2022. "Israel David Jewett." Find a Grave Memorial. Accessed June 8, 2022.

Jewett, Hiram Dayton, and Israel David Jewett. Mechanical telephones. US Patent 211,161, filed October 12, 1878, and issued January 7, 1879.

"May Move to Europe." Rushville Daily Republican, June 14, 1912. Accessed June 6, 2022.

"Phone Trouble Settled." Rushville Daily Republican, July 12, 1912. Accessed June 6, 2022.

"Scientific Items." The Southern Medical Record 9, no. 2 (February 20, 1879): 71. Accessed June 6, 2022. Google Books.

Smith, Pat. "Talking Boxes." Greensburg Daily News, January 26, 1994. Reprinted in Jewett Family Quarterly, no. 4 (1998): 85-86. Accessed June 6, 2022.

"Sued Her Husband for $15,000." Indianapolis Journal, February 4, 1898. Accessed June 6, 2022.

"The Agophone." Sterling Kansas Bulletin, October 10, 1878. Accessed June 6, 2022.

"The Wonderful Agophone." Newport News (PA), November 1, 1878. Accessed June 6, 2022.

"To Sell Telephone Exchange." Indianapolis News, June 11, 1920. Accessed June 6, 2022.

United States Patents Office.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from Marceil Freeland in October 1965.


No further additions expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2013/10/07 by Edythe Huffman. EAD finding aid created 2013/10/07 by Edythe Huffman.
Marceil Freeland papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.