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Thaddeus S. Lane


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"Spokane and The Spokane Country - Pictorial and Biographical - Deluxe Supplement." Vol. II. The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912. (No author listed.) pgs. 228-231.


       HERE is perhaps no man in all of the northwest more widely known than Thaddeus S. Lane, and he has an almost equally wide acquaintance and reputation in the older east, for his business and financial activities have brought him into close connection with important interests in various sections of the country. He makes Spokane his home and yet is frequently found in the various metropolitan centers beyond the Rocky Mountains formulating plans concerning important business transactions or speaking words that constitute the guiding force in control of a mammoth industrial or financial project. He was born in Gustavus, Ohio, on the 10th of February, 1872, his parents being Truman M. and Melissa Lane, who were not only of American birth but trace their ancestry back to the colonial epoch in our country's history. His forebears were residents of New England but during the first half of the last century representatives of the name traveled with ox teams to Ohio, where they hewed their farm out of the virgin forest. Mr. Lane still owns the ancestral home in the Buckeye state and frequently visits it on his eastern trips.
       Like that of most men his rise in the business world has been a gradual one and yet his close application and his keen insight and his ready perception have enabled him to forge ahead of many who perhaps started out far in advance of him. At length his attention was attracted toward the feasibility of the establishment of independent telephone systems and in 1906 he came to Montana. After a close scrutiny of local conditions he decided that Butte offered a profitable field for Independent telephone endeavor and established there the Montana Independent Telephone Company which constituted the modest beginning of operations that today cover all of Montana, northern Idaho and Washington. In fact his lines reach from the Dakotas to the Pacific. There are eight automatic exchanges in the system of which Mr. Lane is the president, with general offices in Spokane. His combined interests are conducted under the style of the Inter State Consolidated Telephone Company, which is the holding company of ten companies of which he is president. His Spokane company alone represents an investment of two million dollars. From one point to another he has extended his operations and promoted his activities until he is now president of the Billings Automatic Telephone Company, of Billings, Montana; the Helena Automatic Telephone Company, of Helena, Montana; the Great Falls Automatic Telephone Company, of Great Falls, Montana; the Montana Independent Telephone Company, of Butte, Missoula, Anaconda and Hamilton, Montana; the State Telephone & Telegraph Company, at Bozeman and Livingston, Montana; the Interstate Telephone Company, Limited, Coeur d'Alene, Sandpoint and Panhandle, of Idaho; the Idaho Independent Telephone Com-pany, of Pocatella, Idaho; and the Home Telephone & Telegraph Company at Spokane, Washington. The Inter State Consolidated Telephone Company, the capitalization of which is five million dol-lars is the holding company of all the other companies mentioned above. The northwest's best known independent magazine, The Treasurer State, of Montana, writing of his activities in the field of independent telephone exchanges, said: "Mr. Lane came to Butte four years ago with a good disposition, a world of telephone experience, a genius for inspiring confidence and a sane and monumental optimism that convinced everybody that he had come to the best place in the world for the big and permanent operation of an Independent tele-phone system. Probably that is another of the secrets of Mr. Lane's success-he never undertakes anything in which he is not himself vitally and enthusiastically confident. Lane commenced Montana operations by building the Butte exchange. He coolly and even debonairly weathered the panic and emerged at the beginning of this year with over six thousand independent phones in the Big Camp as compared with about nine hundred in use by the old established company. With Butte as a base and nucleus of his enterprise Mr. Lane kept on extending his activities. He built perfect exchanges at Ana-conda, Helena, Great Falls, Missoula and a few lesser Montana places reaching as far as the Dakota line on the east and as far as Idaho. He picked up all the intervening rural and interurban small lines and then invaded the Panhandle of Idaho. He ran up against local discourage-ment, past failures, automatic misfits and every conceivable obstacle; but he conquered and eliminated all hindrances and steadily pursued his triumphant march as an organizer and builder of safe and modern telephone business. Within the short time of his activities in this northwest region Mr. Lane has established a cohesive chain of forty-nine exchanges in Washington, Idaho and Montana and in Spokane, where he raised more than one million, five hundred thousand dol-lars for his company, over twenty-five hundred instruments were subscribed for and ready for business before a bell rang. The Spokane exchange now includes the largest and most perfect automatic service in the northwest. The weakest spot of the earlier independent telephone companies was their inability to give long-distance service. Therefore Mr. Lane attacked this inability and in perfecting a long-distance system he removed the last and greatest argument against the independent method of telephoning. In acquiring weak, in-complete and isolated small companies an enormous amount of money was required. T. S. Lane has proved an ability in financing his projects which has made him the leading spirit in the independent telephone movement. He has the invaluable faculty of radiating local confidence, inspiriting dejected enterprise, restoring self-con-fidence in others and urging forward the rapid economic success of all his undertakings."
       In addition to his mammoth operations in the telephone field Mr. Lane is president of the Western Empire Fire Insurance Company of Spokane and a director of the Montana National Life Insurance Company. He is also a director and vice president of the Silver Bow National Bank of Butte, Montana. The number of corporations in which Mr. Lane is a director is thirty-eight.
       In 1897 Mr. Lane was married in New York city to Miss Lilian Payntar, a daughter of George Hoagland and Irene (Merkle) Payntar. They have one child, a daughter, Lilian, aged ten, who is a student at Brunot Hall. Mr. Lane has purchased the Gordon home at No. 1323 Eighth avenue and with his family regards this as his permanent residence. He has never sought political nor fraternal prominence and belongs to no lodges nor societies save the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. Of him it has been written: "Thaddeus S. Lane of the United States might as well be his address because he seems to go everywhere, and if you frequent the best clubs of Chicago, Minneapolis, Salt Lake or 'Frisco, you are just about as sure to see him sitting in the evening at a quiet game of slough in any one of them as in the Montana Club at Helena, the Spokane Club of Spokane or the Silver Bow at Butte. Mr. Lane is something more and better than a 'promising young man.' He is a performing young man, a very dynamic personage of wholesome and captivating personality, but of an exhaustless energy which is the wonder of his friends, and the despair of his rivals. Imperturbability fits Mr. Lane like his business suit but for all his seeming calmness he is endowed with a physical alertness and mental celerity that are the essentials of his remarkable success. His constructive talents are touched with the daring of all self-reliant men. He infuses others with his own same optimism and demonstrates his own faith by the performances of his busy days. With men like him nothing is final and failure is not a word at all. His industry is insatiate and yet he loves life and lives it with every creditable zest for happiness."

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton

* * * * Notice: These biographies were transcribed for the Washington Biographies Project. Unless otherwise stated, no further information is available on the individuals featured in the biographies.


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