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STAGER, ANSON

STAGER, ANSON (20 Apr. 1825-26 Mar. 1885), a pioneer in telegraphy, was born in Ontario County, N.Y., son of Joseph and Elmira Stager. At age 16 he worked on the Rochester Daily Advertiser, owned by Henry O'Reilley who also had a contract to construct a line of Morse's electromagnetic telegraph from Philadelphia to the Midwest. Stager learned telegraphy and in 1846 became an operator on, and later manager of, the first line between Harrisburg and Philadelphia. In 1847 he became general superintendent of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, & Louisville Telegraph Co. In 1852, he was appointed general superintendent of the New York & Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Co. Stager came to Cleveland as general superintendent of Western Union Telegraph Co. in 1856 after helping JEPTHA H. WADE consolidate various lines into that company earlier that year.

Following the outbreak of the CIVIL WAR, Stager entered military service as assistant quartermaster of volunteers. In Feb. 1862 he was appointed colonel on the staff of Gen. Henry Halleck, Pres. Lincoln's chief military advisor and general-in-chief at the War Dept. In this position, Stager served as chief of the U.S. Military Telegraph, devising and implementing the military cipher system used throughout the war. Stager was general superintendent of Western Union until 1869, when he became vice-president of its Central Div. and moved to Chicago, where he remained until his death. Stager is buried at LAKE VIEW CEMETERY. Stager married Rebecca Sprague in 1847 and had 3 children: Emma, Anna, and Charles. His Euclid Ave. mansion later became the headquarters of the UNIVERSITY CLUB.


Thompson, Robert Luther. Wiring a Continent (1948).